New webcomic techniques
I've been thinking and talking about alternative formats for online comics with some friends, and I figured I'd fool around a bit. A lot of this whole philosophy comes from Scott McCloud, and his site, where he demonstrates some examples of how webcomics can be done. I think it's a pretty cool idea, however, for a daily (or every other day) strip, it might not be practical, or even wanted.
Still, the question must be asked by web comic artists:
Why should we consider using this new technique? Here's some thought on why we should:
1. Tradition sucks. Most webcomics, including myself, follow the tradition of the newspaper format because it's all we know. It's a little tricky, and risky, to start experimenting with an entirely new layout. It could piss off readers, and scare off the dumb ones ('cause they are out there). What if we change that tradition? The ONLY way that webcomics are going to make themselves a permanent fixture in the already underappreciated sequential art field, is to do something that makes them stand out.
2. Flexibility is good. This is not a newspaper. This is a new medium, and must be violently explored. Already, sites that utilize flash animation and video are getting more attention because they are entertaining and different. Newspapers, try as they might, are not entertaining. Newspaper comics have NO flexibility, (that is, unless you are Bill Waterson, and your strip becomes so popular, you can do whatever the hell you want to), where as webcomics have unlimited room to stretch. Newspapers have a specific format because they need to have room for "dear Abby" and horoscopes. Also, syndicates demand that they be a certain way, and they ALWAYS have to be that way. Webcomics can use frames, layers, flash "slides," or simply images placed next to each other to create a new narrative. It doesn't always have to be left to right and top to bottom. So, we should consider ourselves lucky to avoid a lot of the red tape, and take advantage of the fact that we DO NOT have to follow the rules.
3. Web perks. There are so many web comics that are web-centric; they could never work in a newspaper. This comic, for example, and I'm not trying to be pessimistic, will NEVER be in a newspaper. Not that it wouldn't be cool, but I honestly think that it would lose something. Being on the web gives a comic reader the option to have a full experience of that comic. If someone starts reading my strip, or Avalon, or Road waffles in a newspaper, they probably won't know what the hell is going on. But, thanks to the miracle of websites, they can read up on the characters, and all the archives, plus buy some shit and look at artwork and other sites that that artist likes. I know what you are thinking, "what does this have to do with layout and narrative?" Well friends, you can place links inside your strip, it could be a multi panel strip on different pages, you can add nifty things like animated .gifs or flash elements inside a strip. These things can't be done on paper.