Ninth Art on Making Webcomics More “Webby”

Over at Ninth Art, Alasdair Watson has written a column throwing out some of his ideas on how comics can tap into the world wide web in a deeper way. He’s dismissive of infinite canvas scrolling and the use of flash. Instead he’s looking for personalization, interaction, and the ability to choose your own genre for a story (it sounds an awful lot like picking a “skin” for your message board or instant messenger program). He’s a man on a mission, that Alasdair!

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.


  1. Hmm.

    You know, I personally think that customizable stories – ones where the reader can affect the outcome or those books with the kid as the hero – are gimmicks. I’ll go even further: they’re products not literature.

    That may sound snobbish, it’s not. The challenge to a creator is getting a reader to buy into the story as it’s presented. If the reader can’t do that, then the story fails for that reader. Letting the reader decide how the story progresses, or the genre or whatever – that’s not writing a story. That’s designing a game – which is fine but it’s a whole different animal than writing a story.

    That said, Watson’s complaints about comics being web-friendly are not new or original – but still very valid. I disagree with him about scrolling – I don’t mind as long as it’s designed intelligently. My strips are designed to scroll down – go through my archives, with pages stacked on top of each other – and you’ll see they form a line of panels going down. I could stack the whole story on a single page and people could read it in a single continuous downward scroll. Some comics use a sideways scroll – one “Pup” strip cited in TCJ had readers follow a path in the snow – very creative.

    But comics that aren’t designed for the web – or specifically for the monitor – can be very annoying.

    One last thought: I like to be able to see at least the top part of a comic when I load a webpage. Designs that have so much stuff at the top of the page so the comic is pushed out of sight tend to annoy me.

    Regards, Tim Broderick

  2. Hmmm… that’s a good point, Tim. I also note your last point… I try to keep that into account when designing my comic pages. Generally I don’t like to have *too* much stuff at the top of the page. It’s a losing battle sometimes, admittedly… because I want to also put the preliminary content like any banners or things like that on the top of the page.

    Hmmm… this could tangentially lead to a topic on the forums…


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