Over at his "Neuf et demi" blog French comics theorist Thierry Groensteen just posted (what I believe is) an excerpt about webcomics from his forthcoming (in 2011) book on comics (a follow-up to his Systeme de la bande dessinée, translated as The System of Comics (UP Mississippi, 2007)). It's a mixture of clichéed anti-screen-reading objections and some more astute observations about the difference between reading comics online and reading them in print. Here's a quick summary with commentary.
My co-guest blogger Scott Story (a pseudonym of some kind, surely) posted yesterday with some tips about long form comics on the web. While his advice has some merit for certain types of webcomics, I'm not at all in agreement that they are general rules or even good rules.
Some of his tips are all too focused on a webcomic that is based on the single episode/strip/page as the primary structure of the narrative. This is the traditional model that so many webcomics seem to work from, the comic strip model. Scott suggests each episodes have a "beat" and a "cliffhanger" the same type of advice you see in action when you read classic comic strips, particular those in the adventure genre: Roy Crane, Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, etc. But I don't think this applies to webcomics working in more of a "graphic novel" mode where the work is considered as a single story/book not an series of episodes. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few webcomics that work in this latter mode, such as Family Man or Finder.
(web to print, print to web, part 3)
I wrote about one of Jed McGowan's webcomics at ComixTalk back in September of 2008. After that he started posting a longer comic (which at the time he called "Bluesy Face") to his website that was an intriguing and slightly abstract mystery that had a wonderful visual style using light blue and grey screentones. (I wrote a bit about it here.) McGowan won a Xeric award for the finished work and now it is being published with the title Lone Pine. He has a pretty long preview up at his site.
McGowan recently posted some photos from the printers as his book was being printed. As of November the book will be available, distributed by AdHouse. And just today he added images of some test prints, pages that have been printed on twice.
Comics in my Google Reader "Webcomics" folder between Monday night and Tuesday night (or thereabouts):
This must be my lucky day as far as online comics discoveries goes. Brian Chippendale's new webcomic "Puke Force" has it's first eight strips up at the Picturebox site. It's about what you'd expect from Chippendale's work if you've read Ninja. Thought the art is less dense that a lot of Ninja, the ubiquitous marks that almost define Chippendale's work is still to be found, as well as his might-as-well-be-trademarked snaking panel reading path.
(Web-to-print, print-to-web, part 2)
I first discovered Jason Overby's comics as printed minicomics. His "Jessica" mini really impressed me when I read it (as have others of his minis). When he ran out of printed copies he posted a pdf of the comic on his website. He's done the same with some of his other minicomics (in the sidebar of his website). Minicomics really aren't about making money (they're about losing money in most cases), they're more about creating an object and exposure. Offering a sold out minicomic as a download is a great way to allow others to read the work (and people are surely more likely to download a pdf then send money for a comic they're not sure about).
Contents of Webcomics Folder in Google Reader for Monday: 1 episode of Lewis Trondheim's Les Petits Riens, 1 episode of John Allison's Bad Machinery (Note to John if he's reading this: Do you realize the only place your name appears on your home page is in the copyright notice at the bottom?), Yeast Hoist #1 by Ron Regé Jr..
(Web-to-print, print-to-web, part 1)
I've been making webcomics for a few years now (since 2005), but long before that I made minicomics. There is a certain pleasure in having a physical manifestation of your comic, and the turn of page, not to mention the multi-page spread just isn't the same online. So, I occasionally make non-web minicomics. I made a set of three this summer in preparation for the recently passed here, here, and here (Warning: abstract, experimental, and barely narrative comics)). I heard from a few readers that it wasn't the easiest thing to do: you needed to print double-sided, and the margins were such that you'd only get the full artwork if you printed with a laser printer. I ended up uploading a pdf version for screen reading too (at the same pages above). But I do like the idea of downloadable piy (that's "print-it-yourself") minicomics.
I'm not the only one doing such things. I was inspired by Warren Craghead's many piy minicomics, which he's been posting online for quite awhile. If you scroll down on his home page, you'll find links to a number of printable pdfs. Warren's books are often rather complicated to fold and cut (there's one that I never did get working right) but the work is worth the trouble, it's beautiful and mysterious, not your normal webcomic by any means. His latest piy comics is a series called "A Sort of Autobiography", which take the form of a six sided "StoryCube" for every ten years of his life (projected into the future up to 2060). You can print them out and put them together. The site hosting that series "Diffusion" seems to be devoted to different piy books and cubes. They even have a page of instructions and some pdfs you can use to make your own piy ebooks.
Claire Folkman has also been offering printable versions of her webcomics. I found this out when she gave me a copy of her printable mini about making a mini from a single page at PACC. She posts webcomics at her site and often includes a printable pdf version.
Why not try one too.
Hello, I'm the forgotten guest blogger this week. My name's Derik Badman, long time readers may remember the column I wrote here for awhile. I also blog regular at my site Madinkbeard, where you can also find my comics (web and print), which lately have mostly been short and experimental/abstract/non-narrative/poetic.
I'm a structure guy, so I thought I'd give myself a theme or two to work with this week. I decided "web-to-print, print-to-web" would be an interesting topic to discuss, as I feel like I've seen an increasing number of works that transition one way or the other that aren't simply "printed book is made from webcomics series."
Not sure what else I'll write about. Perhaps just a run through the daily contents of my "Webcomics" folder in Google Reader.
In this month's column Derik A Badman discusses the seven pleasures that keep him reading a comic.
I wanted to share an invite to this online comics event:
Here comes Met@Morph, the first annual Web Comics Comic-Con and Conference held exclusively in Second Life! The Comic Book Bin, along with The Center for EduPunx and the Institute for Comics Studies, invites you to attend the inworld gathering on Friday October 3, 2008. The preliminary schedule features an international roster of web comics creators, Second Life comics creators, scholars, teachers, students, and designers. If you have questions, please email Beth Davies, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see the conference schedule here. On October 3, simply teleport to Front Range, which will be public for the event.