Comic Non-Sans: The Bottom Right

Recently I made it through the entirety of the Dark Tower graphic novels — or, at least, what’s been released in hardback so far — and am working my way through Skip Beat! and Scott Pilgrim. (I have no problem admitting I’m just now getting to the latter because I have no hipster cred to preserve.)  It’s always odd for me now sitting down to a print comic that was constructed originally to be in one volume.  The flow is so much different to a webcomic, as is mentioned constantly in cases for and against web-to-print.  It almost feels odd turning a page in the middle of a thought or a piece of dialogue, because of the self-containedness* of webcomic pages.

Thus when an item gets to print — and this has been true in my experience with my own work — the flow can feel a bit halting, even when you’ve got the ability to turn pages more quickly than you’re going to press an arrow button.  By the very nature of a book, you’re offering flow to a flowless* genre.  You have to have a punchline … or at least a payoff line, if the page isn’t meant to be particularly funny.

That said, I’m issuing a challenge to my fellow creators, and it’s one I intend to take up myself for the projects I do my own writing for: try, on at least one page, to leave off in the middle of a thought or the middle of an action.  Something that wouldn’t feel odd if you turned a page, but might be awkward if you post it on Friday and aren’t updating again ’til Monday.

The reason for this being sheer curiosity.  What would a reader do?  Hell, what would I do?  First instinct is that I would assume something had been left off the image file, or there was another page that hadn’t been linked … basically, anything but that the writer had intended it that way.  Would it lead to confusion?  Would it lead to a complaint that the reader hadn’t gotten all they were entitled to for the day?  Or maybe … and this is a big maybe … would it cause even greater anticipation for the following update.

I know that within the format that would be considered poor writing, most likely.  You conform to what you’re given.  Or do you?  To me, a lot of the point of webcomics is freedom, and perhaps that should include the freedom to challenge the reader and subvert what makes them comfortable.  Format the script for print.  Do several pages at once.  Post one, and have it be one that doesn’t end on a “zinger” of some sort.

Let the reader freak out a bit.

And then pick up where you left off the next day.

Now, perhaps this is a non-issue in a time where the people who read new pages the day of is perhaps about equal to the ones who save up about a month’s worth and read from there — in which case this might actually work fairly well and make it a smooth read for said fans.  But for those like me who read by the day … it could be a fun brain-bender.

So there you have it, fellow creators.  I dare ya.  Mess with the bottom right (and thus, by extension, the reader).  Unless you’re a) Japanese or b) think you’re Japanese, in which case mess with the bottom left.  And report back to me with your findings.  This I gotta see.

* I’m an English major so it’s a word.

Posted on November 16, 2010 at 01:39 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, Webcomics · Tagged with: ,

One Response

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  1. Written by arkonbey
    on 2010-11-16 at 21:45

    I’m interesting. I’m having to face that myself with my sequential work. If I think too ‘web’, each page is a small cliffhanger. If I think too ‘print’ I can’t post one or two pages at a time, especially near the end.

    Good thing I only have six known readers.

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