Skip to main content

Do large archives scare folks away?

I've been experiencing this problem for a while, where potential readers are immediatly turned off by the size of my archives. Even people I talk to on msn say things like "I'll get around to reading it one day" as if it's a chore. I would take this as something negative except that everyone who HAS read from begining to end has enjoyed it, it's just the getting into part that seems to scare people.

I think this goes more for story comics like mine than gag strips but has anyone else here experienced a similar problem? Either way what I really wanna know is, can you think of why this may be the case?

I've been at this for almost 3 years and the most obvious reason I know of is time, people just don't have the time or patience to read through a story comic with a large archive unless it's a particularily well known one.

Discuss away folk.

Long Archive Reader...

sxilverdragonclaws's picture

I guess because a lot of us on this forum have wbcomics ofour own, which probably means that we do a lot of webcomic reading. For me, I prefer a strong, established storyline, so short or newly developed stories tend not to hold my attention (or I go back to them at a later time, when more of the story is there).

For the average reader, I guess, they tend to like a middle ground - something already established in terms of plot and characters, but not TOO long so it doesn't take them all day to read it ( me - I'll spend a full day reading the archives if I'm that interested, but that's another story!). In any case, it might be easier to break up the archives into sectionals (much like what's already been mentioned) where each part has a short description or an image that exemplifies what's happening in the story. I've seen it done in other long archived comics, and it tends to work when I've missed the updates for a month or two and need to find my place again where I left off.
When my comic gets long enough, I'm thinking of doing that myself.
Good luck!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Are Large Archives Scary? Yes and No.

Linda Howard Valentine's picture

If the strip is a simple gag strip, no involved plots, then I don't think it matters how large the archive is. You can just slap a "randomize" feature on, like Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal does, and pull readers into your archive that way.

Non-gag strips have a bigger challenge. They have to draw the reader in, to make them personally invested in finding out what happens next. Archives are instrumental to this, and a well-organized large archive does not scare me away. An archive that's just a bunch of dates or numbers, on the other hand, does. Yours is better organized than that, but it is a little intimidating. It doesn't make me want to keep clicking.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

Put the archive navigation and the comics themselves on the same page, so it is easier to skip around in the archives. Currently, your navigation directs the reader away from the archive navigation each time. When I read a new comic's archives, I tend to click a few times to see if something draws me in. If the first comic doesn't, often I'll try a few more times, just in case another strip is better. The more difficult it is to do this, the less likely I am to stick around.

Move the link to the cast page to the top front navigation bar. Again, as a new reader I'm looking for something to tell me what this strip is about, and make me care about the action already in progress on the front page.

Use thumbnail art with the archive listings, or subtitles that briefly describe the plot in each subsection, something to draw the reader in more. If you don't already know what Chooken is about, you need something to pull in your interest. There's really nothing on the archive page to do that - the subheadings tell me little to nothing. Clearly you like black and white, but some color on the page, or even just less black, might also help with reader interest. Black and white is a very stark contrast to the eye sometimes. You have a very clever Chooken icon on this site; it is visually more eye-catching to me than anything on the archives page. A small icon like that for each of the subsections, each showing Chooken in a pose related to that subsection, might really help pull reader interest in.

I hope these suggestions are of some use to you!

Well, actually...

CameronCN's picture

Now I'm rather unusual this way, but for me it's a small archive that scares me away. It seems to say to me that this strip is either really new or can't update regularly. Conversely, I enjoy reading through hundreds or even thousands of strips and the more there are the more likely I'll become attached enough to the strip that I'll want to check it regularly for updates and even participate on the forums.

A friendly Newcomers Entrance

Best solution is probably to include an "easy way in" for newcomers, something on the lines of the Sluggy Freelance New Viewers Guide or the Newshounds introduction sequence. Scene-setting pages, story guides, links to good starting-places in the archives etc.

A bigger archive needs more

A bigger archive needs more of an investment, so some people will back out until they have time, yeah. At the same time, a really short archive is much more likely to be read through entirely and then ignored once finished.

I do have a habit of seeing the stats for how many people start reading my comics and how many make it all the way through. There have never been any significant dropoffs based on the length of the archives. There is a slow gradual decline as the amount of people who decide to stop before page 30 is slightly lower than the ones who stop at page 31. The most people stop reading after looking at the very first comic. The vast majority who will leave are gone by the tenth. For example, on one comic, the first strip has been viewed 3700 times this month. the second has only been viewed 2400 times. The tenth has been viewed 1800 times, however the least viewed strip has been viewed 1500 times. This is out of 50 strips total. This isn't a perfect sample of how many people have checked out the comic, I know, but it's not too out there, and when I've directed traffic to the comic with ads so that I have a better idea of how many people are stopping by(especially when the comic was starting out and traffic from ads was all I had), the numbers are similar. 50 strips isn't that much, but my old comic had 400+ pages before it ended and things were similar then.


So I don't think large archives are terribly prohibitive, the greater issue of whether someone will get into a comic or not is decided early on.Most people who read through a comic will like it, but the other part of that is that most people won't care enough about a comic to read through it all. That goes for any comic and makes the anecdote of people liking it once they read through it kind of meaningless.

Anyways, the real battle for how much attention your comic will get from a reader, I think, is determined largely by how it is introduced to them. If they get into it after that, a large archive becomes a very good thing.

<a xhref="" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

I prefer a strong,

I prefer a strong, well-developed, correctly paced story too. (Of course I'm biased since that's what I try to write as well!)

As far as other readers are concerned, it might have something to do with when and where they do their webcomic reading. The international nature of the web makes it difficult to be sure but, when I look at my visitor stats, it seems that most people visit my website during work hours. And, for anyone reading webcomics at work, it's just not going to be possible for them to give their full attention to a long, carefully plotted story.

At least, not unless their boss is into it, too!

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

Broken Voice Comics
Because comics are not just for kids

I suppose that would depend

Alina P's picture
I suppose that would depend on who you talk to.
I know that I actually prefer reading a comic with a large archive of strips, because I'm likely to find intruiging, well-established storylines and dynamic characters (ie - characters that change over time). This is especially true of story-oriented strips, though even more gag-oriented strips do develop over time.
Established archives also mean that I don't have to wait for updates before I get to see what happens next. I'm impatient that way. ;)
The downside of this is that I'm very picky. If I, as a viewer, am going to invest my time into digging through a huge archive of strips, it had better be worth my while or I'm going to loose intrest after the first few months worth of strips.
The comic also has to be interesting enough in the first place to catch my attention before I even think about touching the archives. What exactly is the best way to catch a viewers' attention is another long discussion for another thread, but suffice it to say that good art and witty dialogue usually does it for me.
Now, I have no clue if this is the norm or not. Certainly, I know people who like their daily jokes and that's about it. But I'm a sucker for a good story, and just like a good book, it's going to be damned hard for me to put down once I get into it.



Xaviar Xerexes's picture



Xaviar Xerexes

On second thought, let's not go to Comixpedia. It is a silly place.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.