The Kea's Nest

The Kea is a well known, cheeky, mountain parrot from New Zealand. What better name to take for myself to comment on the funny drawings I find online?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Neil Gaiman and Comics Online

I admit it. I will do just about anything Neil Gaiman tells me to.

Recently he mentioned that someone he knew was doing webcomics and, possessing no will of my own, I immediately visited the link. I was surprised by what I found, because I haven't seen many online comics versus online cartoon strips.

... And, interestingly, he mentions more recently that his opinion of Webcomics has climbed since a post in 2002 (quoted here) because Scott McCloud keep making him read the good ones. His old point stands, but he seems to acknowledge that it is a medium that has good things in it.

Family Man is a comic. Each update appears to be at least one large page of story (although it might be more than one page. This would make a difference to something I'll get to soon) and it is humorous rather than funny. Clearly something momentous (even if only in a domestic sense) is coming.

The sounds of the comic are placed so that, even though you are reading words, there is a sense of hearing them. Meconis has thought carefully about exactly how to spell some of the stranger ones and it pays off.

There was something that came to mind out of reading it though. Doing an actual comic in this way online seems to lose a little in translation. Whereas if you buy a physical comic and are left at a cliffhanger there is still a sort of resolution simply in closing the pages of the comic. You can begin to envision what might come next. Whereas one of the benefits of the interent is immediate gratification which dissappears by doing a comic in this way. Suddenly you reach the last page of story and you're stuck. Now, obviously, there is time needed to create the next part, but because it is much larger and intricate than the average small strip style webcomic, the wait must be longer and some readers are going to fall away. If Family Man is updating in chunks, then this problem is alleviated somewhat, but it still seems to be losing some advantages of placing it online.

Sluggy Freelance seemed to try and blend the two by doing daily strips that were longer and intricate for the Oceans Unmoving storyline. Unfortunately it seemed that fitting that much work into such a small space resulted in something that didn't quite please the audience or the artist (I would, however, be interested in seeing a print of Oceans Unmoving as someone who barely got their toes wet. With it all in one place to absorb, would it go down better?). It seems the medium of the net really does apply better to regular punchy items than longer works.

I'll keep checking on Family Man but it's not the sort of thing I'm after in my moments online. Anyone got any similar projects to recommend though?


At 12:46 am, Blogger DerikB said...

I do my comic Maroon on the model of the old Sunday adventure strips. One large strip every Sunday. They are often self-contained but also involve an ongoing narrative. The larger page sized strip allows my to avoid to awkward moment where you want to turn the page, but there isn't the next page up yet.

I do find it hard to read webcomics that are done that way. Most comics are not done so that the page is self-contained enough for such a serialization. (Finder has been updated that way, and it makes for awkwardness in an otherwise excellent comic.)

At 7:35 am, Blogger The Kea said...

I think I know the type of strips you mean. I never really understood them... I'll bookmark Maroon to have a look over. I see what you mena about not quite having that feeling that you need to find out what's next immediately, but still engaging enough to come back.

I'll have to look for finder too.

Just as I write this, Fleen mention Girl Genius, which has the larger image but still has a joke per strip, thus invalidating much of what I said....

At 10:46 am, Anonymous Dylan Meconis said...

Thank you for the kind words!

I don't consider Family Man to be in any way a comic designed for the web; its only web advantage is that I can use nice dark tones without printing cost considerations.

Ideally it would be a graphic novel serialized quarterly in print. However, until I have enough of an audience and page-count to come to publishers looking worth the expense (or to invest myself in self-publishing), weekly updates are a good way to get attention and feedback.

Heaven knows a page a week is an inhumane way of publishing a continuous non-comic storyline. My last comic, Bite Me!, was structured to be a full-sized page once a week from a continuous storyline, but with a guaranteed self-contained one page punchline.

The internet really encouraged a hybrid of novel and strip in that case.

At 12:29 pm, Blogger The Kea said...

I figured it might be that using the web wasn't really the first choice.

Looking back over what I said, I realised it could have been taken quite negatively. I'mglad you saw it as kind words, that was the intention!


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