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Single pages, larger issues and archive panic

Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 7, 2017
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SINGLE PAGES vs. The GREATER WHOLE

I'm at a nice place in my webcomic right now. Well, it's nice as the writer, at least.
The characters have a nice history now, with some adventures behind them, some established relationships, and a stable of supporting characters who can be brought back to create all sorts of havoc for my heroes.
In a way, it's right where I want to be. Enough history is in place, but there's not so much that it's confusing or oppressive.

Or at least it's not to ME. I wonder about the readers, though. A few commenters have photographic memories, I've found, and remember as many details as I do. That's pretty great (Call Me Tom, I'm lookin' at you, buddy!).
One of the goals for my series has been to make each page completely understandable to a newcomer, but to not be overloaded with exposition that would be annoying to people who are reading it regularly, or to those who read the 22-42 page stories all in one go.
I don't think I'm always successful at riding that line, but I do try.

To that end, I structured the series into pretty much standalone “issues”, with each plot complete unto itself. Copying what printed comics are. I also make an effort to have a setup and payoff, and hopefully a laugh, on each page. Or I guess more to the point, I try to have a conflict, and a cliffhanger or resolution on each page.

That's not always possible, and having a “standalone page” is the first thing I sacrifice when needed. It seems more important not to annoy regular readers with repetitive exposition.
I annoy them with puerile, hackneyed writing and awful, slapdash artwork instead!

The most important thing in my comic, I thought, was for readers to know who the main characters are, and what their basic relationships are. Well, explaining the relationships on every page was not possible, so I settled for having a top banner that shows (and names) all the main characters.
It's actually one of the things I'm most proud of in my comic; I think it's been structured exactly the way it needs to be as far as keeping a reasonable balance for ongoing readers and new readers.

If I'd updated more than 2-3 pages in the past year this would really mean something!

…I'm workin' on it, I swear!

Is your comic more geared to new readers or, ongoing readers? Do you try to keep it balanced between the two? Have you struggled with this? Do you find jumping into new webcomics challenging? Do you read webcomics backwards for dozens of pages on end sometimes (I know I do)?

Have a good Thursday!
-Banes
(from the best of banes collection

comment

anonymous?

AmeliaP at 8:16PM, Sept. 7, 2017

I'm still reading Typical Strange and I can say your story is accessible to new readers :) "Is your comic more geared to new readers or, ongoing readers?" I planned my story ahead before drawing it. Then I wrote a closed story using a Graphic Novel format, like in XIII European comic title, each volume is a closed story, but it has a hook for a next one. I struggled to adapt it in an online format, while keeping the printed format in mind. If I had to think about new readers and ongoing readers, I'd have to add one more concern to my list, so I left this worries off my mind. Usually I don't read webcomics backwards. I read the description and jump to the first page, always. I like to feel the story progression and enter into the author's world, slowly. I'm a patient reader, so I give all the chances to the author convinces me to stay.

bravo1102 at 7:25PM, Sept. 7, 2017

I have six completed comics, each over 100 pages. Hmmm, well a couple were separated into 20-30 page "issues" one had chapters. The current one is in "books" Though not a fan of recaps there will be a synopsis at the head of each book. If a comic was a sequel to a previous one I did do a synopsis(e.g. battle of the Robofemoids) But during the narrative I try to make it so one can jump in anywhere. No one ever seems to remember previous stuff so I don't worry about it. I usually supply any reference needed in the author's notes.

Albino Ginger at 2:42PM, Sept. 7, 2017

I am making a page at the beginning of each chapter, to recap anything that is relevant to that chapter… I hope this will make it easy for anyone to just start reading the current chapter instead of starting from the beginning… I’m only on chapter two; so I’m not Shore how well it will work If I get into higher chapter numbers…

rmccool at 10:59AM, Sept. 7, 2017

My way back is big...I made a brake in it... Or tried to..so people don't have to Wade The way back.. but I find that they do Wade the deep end of 10 years..of pages...stories don't always fit in nice 30 page chunks..they fall into each other and build..so maybe fail in that....

KimLuster at 9:23AM, Sept. 7, 2017

Ha, the Godstrain is pretty much incomprehensible without reading the backlog (and even kinda hard to grasp even if you had...)!! So... While I did try to keep exposition to a minimum, I did see some advantage to including a Synopsis of the Entire Story at the beginning of each chapter (err... chapter 12 and beyond... so that's four chapters lol)... Anyway, I thought it WOULD have been a great idea to do from the beginning... Anyway, it's something that always weighs on me...!!

GuyWithChainsaw at 8:22AM, Sept. 7, 2017

I had this dilema. I really want to establish some relationships but characters becoming friends with new people can't be rushed. I'm afraid I'll rush some plot points and they won't come out as natural. I have some interesting character interactions and stories to be told but if I rush them they just won't work. I have to take my time and do it simple for now. I think so far It's pretty easy to just jump into my comic. For now It's very simple and a lot of plot points will be in some way mentioned again. Speaking of jumping into a new webcomic that already has lots of pages. It's pretty hard for me. I'm reading Craters Edge and I still can't get to the last upload. I just feel like I'm left behind in the story and I can't keep up. I know It's silly.

Emevsa at 6:00AM, Sept. 7, 2017

We're doing an issue based approach with our comic which consist of two or three scenes over 32 pages to help break it up and help us organise our own thoughts as well as for the readers. When it comes to the page it's hard to balance having enough story for them to come back for the next update without slapping exposition after exposition as you said, particularly with arc based stories. I suppose the only this we can do is keep an eye out regarding feedback and fix anything if it comes up. :)

usedbooks at 4:21AM, Sept. 7, 2017

I have an episodic approach, but the characters and setting are pretty heavily developed at this time. A story arc (usually 20 to 50 pages) can take over a year as well. I've made a habit of doing focused recaps prior to an arc. I have a slew of resources for new readers including an organized list of character bios linked to tagged pages, plot summaries, and a thumbnails chapter index. I hope it helps, but I don't know if anyone actually uses it. (I use it, though. It helps me keep my writing organized and consistent.)

Lightfoot at 2:38AM, Sept. 7, 2017

I've thought about all of that too. Some readers remember things I've forgotten, others seem always confused unless I re-explain any important information. I try to just do it normally and insert some minor dialog to mention anything important. I have a long-form superhero comic, and it's probably more designed for ongoing readers. There's some mysteries, some things that aren't resolved for a long time. I don't think you'd possibly understand it without reading all of the older pages. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. I do worry that most new readers will be less likely to start any comic that is more than a certain number of pages. Like there's a sweet spot where the comic is long enough for readers to get a sense of it, but not long enough to require a lot of time to read through the backlog. I've thought about making big summary pages detailing all of the comic so far, but I worried it would be as long and not as interesting reading the comic itself.

ozoneocean at 1:16AM, Sept. 7, 2017

I tried to do that more once with an elaborate intro page and a great set of links that'd take people to all the chapter heads. But the DD redesign screwed that up... I might do that again one day. I love the way you have all your characters listed, it's very useful!


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