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Bobbling a Webcomic: A New Window on the Page

Over at talkaboutcomics dot com, Bob Stevenson writes:

I haven't updated my site in a while because I've been trying to solve a few problems I've had with web-comics in general. Long story short - the result is an invention of sorts, The Bobble. I don't think anything in the Bobble is particularly new but I haven't seen any attempt to deal with this set of issues outlined below in one package or on a web-comic site.

1. I wanted to cut down on load time and keep the reader updated on load progress. (After page 5 - all images are .swf [flash] and less than 50K in size. A preloader indicates progress. The whole Bobble comes in at less than 20K.)

2. I wanted to minimize pen-to-eye time. (Pages are created [sketched, drawn, inked and lettered, saved for the web, and annotated] almost completely in Flash and there's no HTML or page design to do. I can have a page of art posted as quickly as it'll upload.)

3. I wanted the archives, newest pages and new sections to update or be added automatically. (A perl script automatically checks for new files in each of the site's sections and adds them to the archives. It also checks for new sections)

4. I wanted page notes to be displayed with each page. (Flash allows me to embed the pagenotes in with the art file and the Bobble sorts out the two for display.)

5. I needed an improvement to the scrolling offered by Netscape and Explorer. (The Bobble supports three types of scrolling [drag and drop direction buttons, and arrow keys] and I may add Explorer-style drag bars to a future version.)

6. I wanted to be able to place the art at a starting point of my choosing - unlike basic HTML's upper right to lower left. (Though I haven't played with this function much yet, the Bobble allows me to place the artwork at load time anywhere in the scrolling frame.)

7. Other benefits developed in the process. I think they call it scope creep in programmer lingo. These include the zoom button (Flash already offers a right-click zoom but I'm not sure most people use it.)