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Features you'd like to see?

Hey folks, Kelly J. Cooper, Features Editor here. Just wondering if there are specific themes ya'll would like to see covered or stories you'd like to have us do. I'm always open to suggestions - you can email 'em to me here, kjc AT comixpedia DOT com, or post 'em on the forum. Thanks much! Kelly J.

Steve Ince's picture

I'd like to see more involvement in the forums by the Comixpedia staff and the encouraging of other creators to contribute to the forums. Sometimes it seems as though there's only a handful of us posting and it can be more than a little discouraging at times. You, Kelly, have only posted on the forums six times.

When Comixpedia started up it seemed as though there was a lot of promise of building a proper community that served the creators and fans of webcomics, yet it comes across as a shadow of that promise. Without a fully active set of forums there can be proper community and without the staff and contributors to lead the way how can others follow?

Erik Melander's picture

Steve has a point. And to build on that, I would prefer if instead of comments on articles are tied to that article like it is now, each article had its own forumthread like it is on comicon and art technica. I suppose that is a structure issue that might not be that easy to implement (and of course it is my own personal preference, I assume there are people that prefer the system that exists today).

As for actuall features, the ones that Ive enjoyed the most so far are definetly the irc roundtable discussions between different comicauthors. The unintrusive "guidance" that the moderators of the two (?) previous roundtables uses really lets the discussion flow pretty freely but still ensures that it stays on each topic long enough to explore the topics.

How about round-robin critiques of webcomics, as done in some other forums? Sort of like a Book Club? That's done in some other forums---comicon, I think---but a lot of us could use better scrutiny and publicity, and there's always room for one more. It would also build cohesion and community.
Maybe more "links of the day"? Especially loves, faves to link to, etc., from the editors?
And---don't get me wrong, I love the medium---but I started out in the on-line journal/blog community---and if I hear one more comparison between blogging and webcomics, I'll scream.
---Al

I'd very much like to see more hard journalism, like the excellent piece on Creature Features that ran recently. Also, more serious analytical pieces would be appreciated. As for topics -- I'd love to see some features on longform and self-contained comics, such as appear in MT Longplay, NextComics, and the now defunct E-Volution.

PictureStoryTheater.com:Fables & Fairy Tales

TwentySevenLetters.com: Experiments

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Al

There may be more comparisons between blogging and webcomics. Hope you don't lose your voice for the screaming. :)

x

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

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

One thing I wish we had more of was active submission of news items from our readership. If anyone has any bright ideas on how to encourage that, make it easier to do, whatever, let us know. There are so many webcomics out there doing so many things it is literally impossible for the "staff" on its own to really catch all of it.

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Review Club

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Quote:
How about round-robin critiques of webcomics, as done in some other forums? Sort of like a Book Club? That's done in some other forums---comicon, I think---but a lot of us could use better scrutiny and publicity, and there's always room for one more. It would also build cohesion and community.
Comicon has a sort of "review club" in its forums and Talkaboutcomics has a forum where one can ask for reviews. I used to be part of a the "hotlist" (now gone away) where everyone reviewed everyone else. There's nothing stopping anyone from starting something like this on the forums already but if we to "officially" start something or encourage something any thoughts on how to set it up? Obviously the key sticking point to something like this is the need for everyone to write quality reviews of other work and not just get their own work reviewed.

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

Maybe a slight shift in how you are thinking more than new features. Right now Comixpedia reads very much like it is a news letter for webcomic creators, by web comic creators. For every creator there should be a hundred readers. Though most webcomics would be lucky to get 10 readers.

I would like to see more reveiws, or even a space on the comixpedia site where people could read samples of various comics that the editors like. There are suspisciously few comics on comixpedia.

Lists, people love lists. top ten sci fi comics, top ten comics involving cubefarms. blah blah blah blah blah. Can't go wrong with lists.

Bob Corona's picture

"I would prefer if instead of comments on articles are tied to that article like it is now, each article had its own forum thread"

Ditto. There seem to be two seperate groups of people in the forum and posting messages in reply to articles. Although I am sure Comixpedia is better-read than the forums seem to indicate, it makes sense to combine all that posting activity and get some cross-threading going on. Besides which I hate the layout of the article replies.

As for things I'd like to see covered, I've said before (but oddly, not here :roll: ) that you should review books about digital art and cartooning (like Steve Withrow's Toon Art). An article about Dark Horse's Strip Search would be good. With the first year wrapped up, why not take a look at what went down, the winners, the losers, what it says about webcomics in general. You could time it to publicise the resumption of year 2 in January.

Here's something: why not have a "news desk" -- a constantly updating collection of links to webcartoons tackling current affairs as they happen?

On the whole I think you guys are doing pretty well, and I go away with something worthwhile every time I visit.

I'd very much like to see more hard journalism

Exactly. How about some real articles that explore the nature, history, and stories behind webcomics? Here and there, across the web, a few such pieces have been written, but even most of those lack real focus. Samples of reporting content could be: History and people behind "Sprite" comics -- a unique webcomic form in its own right. Same could be said for the online manga explosion -- how is it different from print manga in terms of who is creating it? What kind of future does it have? Other stories could explore the history and development of Flash-based comics, and the various ways Flash is used in webcomics. Has the medium of webcomics generated any unique genres that can't be found elsewhere? The list goes on and on. . . use your imagination. Stop "reviewing", and do some real digging into the medium and the people behind it. And when I say "the people behind it", I don't mean McCloud/Manley & Co. Seriously look into what people outside their tiny sphere of influence are doing and what they think about the medium. A site like this should be the first to adjust that perspective and tackle the larger world that is webcomics. Odds are, if you do this, other sites will probably start picking your articles up or linking to you -- which will ultimately boost the visibility of webcomics in general. People don't want to read press releases -- they want to read the stories behind the press releases.

kjc's picture

Thank you folks! I appreciate those who took the time to answer my query. And please feel free to add more as stuff occurs to you.

One or two points to acknowledge. I've never been a forum person, so I've been trying to get into the habit. I'll work harder on that.

I am not a webcomic creator. I have no webcomic, never have, don't plan to get one. I am just a gal who loves comics. And it's hard to find other non-creators willing to get involved. If you know of anyone (creator or non) who wants to write for us, point 'em to me or drop me a link with a sample of work.

We'll look at doing more serious, hard journalism, and analytical pieces. Those data points are very helpful.

Actually, ALL the data was helpful and will be discussed.

For contrast, are there things we're doing right? In particular, with regard to features, there seems to be approval of the Creature Features article. Any others that struck a chord? Why?

Thanks again,
Kelly J.

Steve Ince's picture

Oh, there are definitely things you're doing right. The general layout has a pretty good clarity that other sites could bear considering. There seems to be a genuine desire to provide a useful service and this thread shows some of that commitment.

Another suggestion. Why not have a "Strip of the Week" on the main page instead of the cover images. Whilst it's nice to see specifically drawn covers, I'd rather see sample strips by these people, something which is more likely to draw me to investigate more work by that person.

Things could be a bit more readable on Comixpedia. Links are hard to distinguish.. dark blue and black. Especially the links way on the bottom.. dark blue against bright dark blue. You should underline them at least.
And you should fix the logo in the upper left. Those little white specks have always bugged me :o)

Re:

Just to clarify, Comicon doesn't have a review club, but the Webcomic Book Club mirrors summaries of its weekly reviews in a thread on Comicon. The concept of the club is simple and could easily be done by a committed group of reviewers at Comixpedia. Basically you just have to agree to all review the archives of the same webcomic each week and post your reviews to a thread. For the WBC, the raw data from the forum posts are then reformatted for a cleaner database presentation but that's an optional extra step. The main thing is getting the commitment from reviewers week after week to actually post. As for other suggestions, one thing I really tried to push with Xerexes when Comixpedia was first proposed, was to develop a definitive webcomics database with lots of useful genre, history and other data categories. I'd also like to see some kind of mainstream media tracking type feature that lists all mainstream media outlets that have had articles/programs about webcomics. Something you could keep checking back on to see how much mainstream penetration webcomics are getting and where the attention is going. I know Comixpedia links those things as they come up, but a consolidated list of links would be nice. In general though, I think Comixpedia is doing about as good a job as possible given the limited resources. It's basically the only game in town offering news, reviews and links exclusively for webcomics in a serious way. I think Comixpedia can only really be expected to grow as fast as webcomics themselves grow into self-sufficiency. -- Patrick Schaefer

Shepherd's picture

I think the database is a swell idea! But... who would handle it?

This brings up a more general point: suggestions are good and welcome, but so far this is a volunteer-based venture and it's hard enough to find people willing to put a ton of time and effort into doing the "journalism" end of things, let alone lots of the scut work. The best thing for Comixpedia right now would be if all its readers started just spending a biiiiiit more time posting news, working on long-term articles and, well, DOING stuff.

I'm not chastising anybody -- we're all busy! -- but having more volunteer "journalists" to handle interviews and news stories (like the aforementioned very solid Creature Features piece) would be a definite boon.

David Wright's picture

I think that a feature comic per week would be a good idea...maybe at the bottom of the page. In return, we could ask the comic to feature a comixpedia link on their site, and you get some more cross promotion going on.

Secondly, this isn't so much a feature request...but I could really go for a new color scheme ...this blue has become kinda' depressing.

dunk's picture

I think we're feeling much the same about some elements of the color-scheme and the design, which is why we want your input. My feeling at the moment is that we should maybe aim for some very basic black and white motifs for Comixpedia 2004. Keep things simple and concentrate on clean, uncluttered pages - let the comics do the talking.

Speaking of which, it would be fantastic if there were a few people out there who would be willing to take on a different kind of webcomic-journalism than what we usually present here. Keep an eye out for one of the upcoming features in November, by eric Millikin and Justinpie. I think it might be an excellent example of the kinds of things we could be doing. We just need creators with enough free time to contribute.

I think we started off with the goal of creating (or at least encouraging) community, and I think that we were successful to some degree. Hopefully year two will allow us to find some more focus, and decide what Comixpedia should really be.

*****

While I'm at it, I also want to say that it is probably true that we don;t post here as often as we ought to (well, some of us anyway). For my own part, having a webcomic of my own, which many of us do, means that much of my posting is done elsewhere. I think we've intentionally tried to steer clear of blowing our own respective horns too much, though I think that the boards might be a different pace if we posted more. I quite like the idea of having the comments on each article be forum threads, because it would encourage people to come in here and share. It's too easy to just scan things and move on the way we're doing things at the moment.

Since this thread started off being about what kinfd of features you would like to see, maybe we could also discuss the overall focus that readers want from comixpedia. should be doing more hard-news style journalism (the creature features piece was a good example... though several of us could not write about it because were involved), or would readers prefer lighter, more entertainment style news? Help to point us in the right direction.

Erik Melander's picture

Youre doing a great job so far, which is something we, the readers, dont tell you often enough.
I agree about the choice of colour in the design. Strong blue and yellow is not one of my favourites, but you get used to it. Something clean and simple is the way to go.

Has anyone thought of contacting some journalism departments in schools (especially high schoolers with all their free time) and seeing if anyone wants to build their resume by doing some freelance stuff. They don't have to know comics if there's something worth investigating. Sometimes the articles in comixpedia tend to have very personal slants (not as in particularily biased, but containing a lot of "I"), which there is nothing wrong with it the column is intended to be that way, but too much is too much.

The problem with a comic of the day is that so many comics would not be able to take advantage of that, due to design of the site and design of the comic in question. Any long form comic would be out of place, and really only gag-a-day strip form ones would work. Not to say the space would need to be democratic and open to everyone, but that this would narrow the focus of Comixpedia to the reader, so that they would think the site only concerns with this type of webcomics, and not ALL webcomics.

Ware the only black and white designs, too. Too much contrast is as hard on the eyes as too little (like the current blue on blue). I'd like to see a greyscale site with some cool zipatone-esque background images, and color used for the different section of the site. Like an orange border to reviews, or blue for news, or whatever color coordiantes with the images used for the topics.

Attaching a forum topic instead of comments to each piece would be PERFECT, in my opinion.

-Meaghan, not sure if she's logged in or not.

I'd like to see reviews of some of the more obscure webcomics. Most of the time, people have already made up their minds on the well-known ones. (Although, they are still cool to see, since they offer new insights.)

Re:

dunk's picture

Quote:
Has anyone thought of contacting some journalism departments in schools (especially high schoolers with all their free time) and seeing if anyone wants to build their resume by doing some freelance stuff.
Actually, Leah's a journalism grad, and when we got started on the 'pedoa she posted somethign on the school board and brought in two new people. They're both still contributing, and they've been great. We should probably get her to post the same thing again before the year's end to see if there are more people out there keen to contribute... though it's hard to offer much of an incentive besides the occasional by-line.

Erik Melander's picture

As Ive said I would like to read more roundtable discussions. Especially one that covered current events in the webcomicsphere, I suppose it could be bimonthly or quarterly so that there was something to discuss.
I dont know how feasible that would be, the participants would have to have an interest in the webcomic community, appart from being willing to participate obviously. Preferably they would be somewhat well known as well.
I would also like to see a reader survey that tries to figure out who reads comixpedia.

Re:

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

RobertoCorona wrote:
Here's something: why not have a "news desk" -- a constantly updating collection of links to webcartoons tackling current affairs as they happen?
It's a great idea - Daryll Cagle does a sort of like it thing - he posts lots of editorial cartoons on recent topics on SLATE.

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Comics on Comixpedia---

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Steve_Ince wrote:
Another suggestion. Why not have a "Strip of the Week" on the main page instead of the cover images. Whilst it's nice to see specifically drawn covers, I'd rather see sample strips by these people, something which is more likely to draw me to investigate more work by that person.
This kind of ties in with some of the feedback to the "What I'm Reading" featurette we had going for awhile this year. I suppose we could think about posting a few examples of a comic pick of the week on the site. Something like that would be much less than a real review and probably more like a TV guide blurb. How about a comic jam on the site? That might be something interesting to do here on Comixpedia-

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Xaviar Xerexes's picture

The database idea got put off because it is a BIG project. I want to tackle it in year 2 but I'm having trouble finding help at this point. Patrick if you have time to get involved in it please let me know -

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Xaviar Xerexes's picture

What would be more interesting - taking turns like WT or open submissions for each round with Comixpedia readers voting on which comic to add to the jam?

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

On the tangential issue of getting people to participate more in the forums: I've noticed that the logins don't seem to carry over (I can be logged in on the main site, but when I come to the forums I'm not logged in). May be a problem with my local browser/cookie configuration, I dunno. It's an ever-so-slight barrier to forum participation, but it does tend to make me participate less.

On the real topic: I'd like to see more business articles. But I may represent a very limited demographic.

Joey
www.moderntales.com

I avidly follow the business stories too, but I guess there's only so much webcomic commerce to discuss.

So, would suggesting a new server seem like rubbing salt into some wounds?

Re: Features you'd like to see?

I wouldn't mind seeing reviews done by two different people when it comes to genre specific comics - one by a person who is a fan(atic?) of that genre, and one by a person who isn't. *shrugs* just a thought.

Re: Features you'd like to see?

rkm0001 wrote:
I wouldn't mind seeing reviews done by two different people when it comes to genre specific comics - one by a person who is a fan(atic?) of that genre, and one by a person who isn't. *shrugs* just a thought.

Nah, a review is nothing more than an opinion. If the various fanboys out there cant accept that someone may not like the same things they do, then they can go and complain to their Real Dolls.

Re:

Al Schroeder's picture

Nekomimikun wrote:
I'd like to see reviews of some of the more obscure webcomics. Most of the time, people have already made up their minds on the well-known ones. (Although, they are still cool to see, since they offer new insights.)
I've started up a Review list on Buzzcomix, that seems to be working well. Going on a weekly basis, everyone who posts a review will GET reviewed, so it encourages thoughtful, non-flaming reviews---sort of "do unto others as you would have do onto you". It's done in the same order as they joined, initially, but people can ask to be put later in the list. The same model could be adapted here.---Al

 Al Schroeder III of MINDMISTRESS---think the superhero genre is mined out? Think there are no new superhero ideas? Think again.

I like alschroeder's suggestion of a "pass the baton" review approach. Maybe a new twist can be added to make it unique to Comixpedia. Such as....all reviews are done from the bedroom closet of the cartoonist being reviewed. Oh, and they all should happen late at night. Just a thought.