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Hiatus and the new comic.

Alot of talk, especially by small time and new comics creators, in the webcomics community is about ways to help new and unknown comics get noticed. Organizations, collectives, awards, links, and diatribes against the narrow minded fandom are popular. This reader thought he would bring up another reason young and small comics have trouble. There is no built up trust between the reader and the creator. And trust is important. There is nothing worse than reading a comic, really starting to groove on it and then suddenly BAM! indeterminate hiatus or ending. Even respected pillars can just stop updating. This risk causes readers to think twice about reading a comic before it is has a record of reliability and a sense of financial security.

What can a new creator do to combat this? First update regularly. This is good advice anyway because it creates a sense of habit in reading your comic. Additionally, though, it shows you are dependable and that helps breach the trust gap. Second, talk to your readers. Let them know where you are going, if possible. Talk about when you want to wrap the strip up. When you miss updates, give a reasons. The readers will appreciate it. Finally, let them knwo where the comic stands financially. This little steps would go a long way to reassuring one reader at least, and might help you get more of us.


Linda Howard Valentine's picture

Nothing is more frustrating to me than a comic that builds up a little steam and then... just... stops. I understand time constraints, and that almost all web cartoonists have full-time jobs, but how you behave in any endeavor cannot help but reflect upon you and anything else you might do down the road. One comic I used to read has stopped, reinvented itself, restarted, stopped, reinvented itself, restarted and then once again stopped. I have so little trust that the author will ever finish anything that you would have to bribe me to ever look at any of his work again.

Personally, I appreciate the type of meter that Megatokyo uses to let you know how the update schedule is progressing. It's nice to be able to go to the site and see when I can expect it, or if something is delaying it. I'm more than willing to forgive a comic for running late if they keep me informed.

I think the most valuable point Erg makes here is that with new comics, that kind of forgiveness isn't going to be forthcoming right away. When I moved to San Francisco, I was warned that it would take about six months to a year to make friends, because the city had a waiting period -- so many people move here and then move away that no one wants to take a chance on building a friendship with someone who's just going to leave. I suspect the "waiting period" on new webcomics is about the same.

Pretty much

Erg's picture

I agree. Though I don't want people to thionk i am blaming cartoonists for abandoning strips or going on hiatus. if you provide me free entertainment you have no obligation to do it forever.

Only problem with the item

ElegantGremlin's picture

Only problem with the item Megatokyo has, is that it doesn't work for all comics. Like, I'll do a comic in a single sitting. From scripting to publishing, it is never more then 2 hours, and never in multiple sittings (unless I'm doing multiple strips at once for a buffer or something). So having that on my site, it would all be at 0 till about a couple hours before the comic is supposed to go up (yes, I'm one of those updaters). It would really tell you nothing about what's going on.

-- Chris Kirk

Very true, it doesn't work

Linda Howard Valentine's picture

Very true, it doesn't work for every format, and for those who are very regular with their updates (or those who update daily), the status bar is less helpful. Although I suppose you could just leave it at "On time and on target" 99% of the time and only change it if there was a problem.


ElegantGremlin's picture

My comic has only ever been on hiatus once. I couldn't give the readers a definite on when I'd be back because, well, I didn't even know that myself. I was moving from home and off to college and wouldn't be able tobring my computer at first.

I did, however, run guest strips and build a buffer before I left to at least try and cover when I was gone. Turns out I was unable to update for 2 months longer then I had built a buffer for... but now I'm back into the swing of things and not missing an update.

-- Chris Kirk

I posted in a couple of

scarfman's picture

I posted in a couple of LiveJournal webcomics-interest communities this week, because my philosophy has always been never miss my daily update, whatever I drew that day was the best work I was capable of that day and I'm [usually] satisfied with it, and I wanted to check my impression that mine is a unique opinion as opposed to quality before quantity, even if it means missing updates. Opinons were pretty much segregated between the two communities I posted to: at webcomics both cartoonists and readers were mostly quality over quantity all the way, while at snarkoleptics the reaction was largely you're not as alone as you think (even if I don't operate that way). There were qualifiers to the quality argument: yeah, you want to notify readers when and even why there'll be a hiatus; yeah, there needs to already have been established regard for the work on the part of the readers before they'll stand for it (which is the point of the post above). But by and large I still get that the majority opinion is the other one, at least among fellow cartoonists.

Paul Gadzikowski,
Arthur, King of Time and Space New cartoons daily

There is a balance.

Erg's picture

I don't mind the odd break or hiatus, but I need to know it will end, and it really helps to have filler content, like tom does.

I have always felt strongly

Tom Brazelton's picture

I have always felt strongly that reliablilty is the cornerstone of the audience relationship and came to that conclusion based on my own experiences. What annoys me most about reading webcomics? Sometimes you just can't trust them to be updated. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I won't read your comic again.

I am notoriously paranoid about making sure my audience is informed. For example, I made sure to let them know (and CONTINUE to let them know) that I am taking a partial hiatus from my comic during the month of February while I make myself available to my wife as we prepare to welcome our first child in a week. To help bridge the gap, I've recruited 2 guest strips a week supplementing the schedule with a comic of my own each Friday. I make sure the readers know this over and over or else I might not have readers waiting for me when I get back!


Theater Hopper -::- Comics about movies every Monday, Wednesday and Friday -::-

Theater Hopper -::- Comics about movies every Monday, Wednesday and Friday -::-