Longform Comics On The Web: That Which Should Not Be
Submitted by The William G on May 2, 2006 - 09:06
As some of you may know, I make a longform webcomic (thanks for clicking). And I'm using the term "longfom" as to mean serialized story comics.
I've been thinking about webcomics, as I always do, and though I'm lacking access to Rob Balder's holy grail of data, I have managed to notice a few things. First off, gag-strips dominate the webcomics. And second off, longform comics don't.
Now, this isn't meant to be a debate over Art vs. Entertainment, nor Quality vs. Quantity. We all know those topics have been done to death, and have no value save their acting as a platform to launch pissing contests.
This is meant to air a thought/ reinvention of the wheel, I had that I think may be discussion-worthy.
Longform comics have no place in what we now know as webcomics.
From what I've read about the internet and it's uses, information is traded in, for lack of a better term, Micro-bursts. You're reading the information in small chunks and then you move on to the next burst of data. Nibble, move. Nibble, move. Sort of like information sushi or the buffet at the prom.
Gag strips, by their very nature, are meant to be absorbed quickly. Thus they fit the web method of information delivery perfectly. So you can head off to Penny Arcade, ten seconds later you giggle, "Heh, he said cockslut." and you move on to something else like CTRL+ALT+DEL, or looking for porn, or your job, or what have you. The amount of information fits the method of delivery.
But, a longfom comic requires a longer period of concentration for it's information to be delivered well. For this type of comic, it may take three pages to reach the, "Heh, he said cockslut" conclusion. And few have the patience, or time, or eyes to stare at the same image on a montior for a length of time.
So a longform comic artist has to copy the gag-strip method of quick updates. To me, that's like trying to make a dog into a cat. It cuts up the comic's flow when it's drawn with the update in mind, causing it to be jumpy in the final reading. Or it produces a glacial updating flow when it's drawn with the final product in mind. All in all, the delivery method is working against the material.
So, what's can be done? Vanity press is always an option. But how do you get that to your potential reader without having a web or direct market presence to begin with? Same problem, right?
Me, I'm thinking RSS or some other sort of direct feed would be the best way to deliver a longform comic. The reader gets a full chunk of material they can read at their own leisure without the flow problems mentioned above. But, as far as I know, and I hope someone can correct me on this if I'm wrong, RSS and other direct feeds dont count towards the UIPs/ pageviews, making it difficult to open that online t-shirt store and banner sale everyone, except for those loser artistes, want.
Any ideas? Or will the web as a method of delivery remain a "The worst system there is, except for all the others" situation for this type of material?