Not signed in (Sign In)
  1.  (7043.41)
    Great discussion here.

    First - I am definitely biased. I've been making video games for +15 years and I firmly believe in the future of interactive entertainment. I believe that if you are creating something whose ultimate destination is an interactive platform, it should be interactive.

    The problem is that what an interactive comic is, is still being defined.

    Re: Pacing - My key point here is that people read at their own pace. A lot of interactive and motion comics control how quickly text appears and disappears. I believe this is a mistake.

    Re: Flash Game #'s - Check out a top flash game portal like Kongregate, AddictingGames or NewGrounds and you'll see that a game can get thousands of plays in a day. Spread that across the 30,000+ portals out there that distribute these games and you can see how many flash games get 1,000,000 plays in a week and how hit games can get 1,000,000 plays in a day. While comparing webcomics with webgames might be apples to oranges, it does show that part of the browser experience is interactivity.

    Re: Quality - I can't agree enough. Quality is everything.

    But dismissing interactive comics because of a few sour experiences is like dismissing movies because you saw Transformers 2.

    The signal to noise ration in interactive comics is low, but what's important is that they are moving ahead and great works of interactive comics are finding an audience:

    1000 Words is a fantastic interactive comic. It's a comic that does a great job of working within the strengths and constraints of the browser. 1000 Words has over 300,000 views, which I'd be hard pressed to find with a non-interactive, non-serialized comic (web or print) by an unknown creator. I also believe that if it weren't interactive, it wouldn't have reached the audience it did - and many other great, but non-interactive, comics with lower readership on DeviantArt prove that point.

    Along with the comic Pia posted, I have a lot of faith in the future of interactive comics.
    •  
      CommentAuthorEthan Ede
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2009 edited
     (7043.42)
    My last post actually exceeded the character limit for the forum and I had to edit it down, so I will try to keep this one more brief.

    The problem is that what an interactive comic is, is still being defined.


    Clearly. How would you define it?

    Re: Pacing - My key point here is that people read at their own pace. A lot of interactive and motion comics control how quickly text appears and disappears. I believe this is a mistake.


    I totally agree, but then I think motion comics as a whole are terrible. They absolutely ruin pace, while making up for it with by giving you a cartoon that looks like it was animated by a blind, spastic, eight year-old. I don't want to be accused of judging an entire style of comic because of a few sour experiences again, but I have never seen a motion comic that didn't make me want to vomit. Hyperbole yes. But the truth is not far from that. (and when I say motion comics , I mean motion comics. I don't mean comics that use moving elements often via GIFs.)

    Re: Flash Game #'s - Check out a top flash game portal like Kongregate, AddictingGames or NewGrounds and you'll see that a game can get thousands of plays in a day. Spread that across the 30,000+ portals out there that distribute these games and you can see how many flash games get 1,000,000 plays in a week and how hit games can get 1,000,000 plays in a day. While comparing webcomics with webgames might be apples to oranges, it does show that part of the browser experience is interactivity.


    Like you yourself point out, this is apples and oranges. But there is another issue with it, one that begs for discussion. A hit game, you say, spread out over 30,000+ portals can get 1,000,000 plays a day ( you do not say whether these are unique plays or total plays, but I am betting it is total plays.) Alexia tells us that the webcomic that generates the most traffic is Penny Arcade at about 300,000 unique views a month. 300,000 is a much smaller number than 1,000,000 yes but that 1,000,000 is, by your admission, spread out over 30,000 + different websites. Business 101- 300,000 views focused on your site, is better than 1,000,000 spread out over a vast many others. The Penny Arcade guys support themselves, a charity, and a staff of 8 from the money they make from their site. And their comic is not interactive. I don't know much about flash games so perhaps you can help me out. There are lots of guys supporting themselves off webcomics, but I can't think of any flash game that supports it's independent creator. The only guy I have ever known who made flash games and animations who said he was able to make a living off of them, later admitted that this was just what he told the tax man, he really supported himself by selling drugs.

    1000 Words is a fantastic interactive comic. It's a comic that does a great job of working within the strengths and constraints of the browser. 1000 Words has over 300,000 views, which I'd be hard pressed to find with a non-interactive, non-serialized comic (web or print) by an unknown creator. I also believe that if it weren't interactive, it wouldn't have reached the audience it did - and many other great, but non-interactive, comics with lower readership on DeviantArt prove that point.


    Oh 1,000 Words. Sigh. I'm not going to touch the trite, bland content of that strip, (although, I just did) I want to focus on format. 1,000 Words is not an interactive comic. It is a -mostly- single panel cartoon strip, in a flash reader. There are only 7 pages out of the total work (56 pages long) that utilize narrative flow and even then, just barely. It feels more like children's book than a comic to me. Now the flash reader definitely helps the work, compiled into a reader it was able to get a daily deviation and its 300,000 lifetime views, something none of the pages alone could have done. But does the flash reader alone make it interactive? No. It is no different a reading experience than any webcomic. You click the next arrow to advance to the next page. The comic Pia Posted is closer, he does some interesting things with the passage of time. He is still getting a little too close to animation territory, where you loose the great part of comics where the reader's imagination fills in the gaps, but he is doing a better job than most of the people experimenting with this style, and that is kind of the point. That comic also isn't so much about interaction as it is about time and space.

    I don't know, I think we have to do 1 thing before we all go nuts: Define what we mean by interactive comics.

    Again I don't think that experimenting with ideas is bad. But I do think that the comic as an art form has been around for a long time, it was polished and beautiful, and in my opinion the best medium for story telling long before web browsers came along. And I don't think we have to change a thing when we put them into a browser. Interaction is great if it is done right, but it is not the future of the art form.
  2.  (7043.43)
    For me - interactive comics is simply this: A comic that requires the readers interactions, beyond the act of turning the page, to move the comic forward.

    Re: Flash Games - There are quite a few companies of 50+ people making flash games as well as dozens of independent creators making a living (some, making a very, very good living - the recent success of Canabalt - a weekend indy jam Flash game that went on to top seller on iPhone comes to mind).

    Portal vs. Homepage - I come from the school of thought that as a creator, I want as many people as possible to see what I've created - video game, comic, whatever. Whether it's through a portal or my homepage, what matters to me is that it gets in front of as many people as possible. With Flash, you can still generate revenue from products and advertising with people never visiting your homepage.

    Obviously, you don't like 1000 Words. I'm sure that there are traditional print comics that you don't like as well. That is a matter of subjective opinion. The fact remains that 1000 Words is a comic and an interactive comic. And while you might not like it - over 300,000 people have which means it's striking a chord.

    Dismissing 1000 Words viewship as a result of being a 'daily deviation' is like saying that the only reason Penny-Arcade was successful is because when it launched was every gaming site and magazine linked to their comics (which is exactly what happened). This is the viral nature of the Internet - nothing is successful without people promoting it.

    As for the future of comics in the digital medium - I believe comics will adapt to the medium. They don't need to change, but they will.

    I say this because they ARE changing. Right now.
    •  
      CommentAuthorEthan Ede
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2009 edited
     (7043.44)
    interactive comics is simply this: A comic that requires the readers interactions, beyond the act of turning the page, to move the comic forward.


    The fact remains that 1000 Words is a comic and an interactive comic.


    Not by your own definition it is not. There is no level of interaction other than reading the comic and turning the page. Putting a comic in a flash reader does not make it somehow different than a comic not in a reader.

    Dismissing 1000 Words viewship as a result of being a 'daily deviation' is like saying that the only reason Penny-Arcade was successful is because when it launched was every gaming site and magazine linked to their comics (which is exactly what happened). This is the viral nature of the Internet - nothing is successful without people promoting it.


    I am definitely not dismissing anything as being simply a daily deviation. Daily Deviations are hard to get and a great boon, we have only had...2, I believe, I don't know you would have to ask Adam, it's his DA page. What I said was that putting the entire comic in a flash reader allowed it to, as a whole, get a deserved DD, where none of the pages by themselves would be able to. I stand by those words. I would have no problems loading full story lines of one of my webcomics into a flash reader and putting it on DA. That is a valid promotion strategy, but it wouldn't suddenly make my comic interacative.

    Portal vs. Homepage - I come from the school of thought that as a creator, I want as many people as possible to see what I've created - video game, comic, whatever. Whether it's through a portal or my homepage, what matters to me is that it gets in front of as many people as possible. With Flash, you can still generate revenue from products and advertising with people never visiting your homepage.


    That is great, thank you for answering my question. And I agree that getting the work to the most people as possible is a great thing, I have said as much on this forum several times. At present though comics are not distributed via a portal system though. Who knows if they would get as many views as a top flash game if they were. The question though is purely academic though, because as we have both said webcomics are not games or anything else and should not be judged by their standards. Also a company of 50+ plus employees is an entirely different animal, than two guys making a webcomic. Does Avatar even have 50+ employees?

    As for the future of comics in the digital medium - I believe comics will adapt to the medium. They don't need to change, but they will.

    I say this because they ARE changing. Right now.


    Some will change. Most will not. Some are changing right now, most -including all the most successful webcomics (Penny Arcade,MegaTokyo, PVP, least I can do, Freak Angels, Questionable Content, Something Positive, XKCD, SMBC, etc*)- are not. None of those comics are interactive, and none employ flash readers. Only time will tell, but I think that for the foreseeable future, most of the best webcomics will remain that way. Because, while I think experimentation with new mediums is great, comics are already at the pinnacle of storytelling potential. The original question asked by the topic starter was "As online comics become more popular and prevalent (as I'm sure they will), how should artists and writers adapt." My answer is that (beyond fixing the readability, and navigation issues we face as a community) we do not need to. Some people will and I am all for that, but comics have been perfected and labored over by masters of the art form for a long time now, and nearly every time I come across a 'digital interactive innovation' it takes away from some aspect that the masters worked so hard to build for us.

    We don't need to change a thing, to adapt. More power to the people who do, I look forward to reading your stories, but there is no crisis here, no comic is going to live or die by its interactivity, it will live or die by its quality.

    *not saying that I particularly like all the comics in that list, because the only comics I do like from the list are Freak Angels, XKCD and SMBC. I'm only saying that they are successful
    •  
      CommentAuthorEndjinn
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2009 edited
     (7043.45)
    I would like to see the animation in digital format narrative take a bigger role,
    its the logical step forward for creators.
  3.  (7043.46)
    On pageviews and all:

    I just went to my fav webcomic, Sinfest and checked the stats for the project wonderful ad that's on top of the front page.

    There's on average about +200k pageviews, and around 100k unique visitors. A DAY!
    Meaning it hits over a million pageviews a week.
    And it's just a simple daily strip, with an additional full page sunday strip in color, so basically it's a newspaper strip transplanted onto the web. How does it use it? Well, it makes possible for the strip to touch upon things that would never pass in a newspaper.

    Now, if you want a webcomic that does things impossible to do on paper I suggest Nawlz, but it's pure fulscreen flash so you better have a decent pc (my five year old machine barely cuts it) and a good connection.

    There are animations/animated loops, music, sound samples, special effects, clickable easter eggs and the whole thing keeps on expanding in every direction, with new panels replacing old ones or popping up on top, folding in and out, scrolling to the side etc.

    But it works with the setting of the story, which is basically about people who live in three worlds, the real one and two virtual. I don't think that would work well with fantasy comic for example, haha.
  4.  (7043.47)
    Ethan Ede:
    Not by your own definition it is not. There is no level of interaction other than reading the comic and turning the page. Putting a comic in a flash reader does not make it somehow different than a comic not in a reader.

    There are some great moments in 1000 Words where the experience happens within the frame - user controlled animations and pacing/framing that only work because they are in an interactive medium and not on a page. To me, that's interactive. You disagree. We'll just have to agree to disagree. I'm ok with that.

    Re: Nawlz - Nawls is extremely interesting. It doesn't always succeed, but it does create some great moments that wouldn't be possible on any other medium.
    •  
      CommentAuthorYskaya
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2009
     (7043.48)
    @Paul Duffield: May I quote you (on facebook; in a closed network) on post (7043.15)? we're having a discussion much similar to this one and yours states a point perfectly.

    As soon as I think of something useful to add to the topic i'll post, for now back to lurking.
    •  
      CommentAuthorEthan Ede
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2009
     (7043.49)
    @Aurora Borealis

    I've been reading Nawlz tonight, it is pretty damn decent. This is what I'm talking about, there is nothing here that could be translated to print, this is an idea that can only be done through the medium they are using. Plus the creators can draw, write, program, and have a decent grasp of storytelling. The future of webcomics? No, I don't think there is any reason for any other comic to imitate this, but it is great for what it is.
    •  
      CommentAuthorPatrickBrown
    • CommentTimeNov 21st 2009 edited
     (7043.50)
    My comics are done with jpegs and hyperlinks on a blog, and there's nothing there that my mum, who has broadband internet but panics when an application wants to update itself, or half my co-workers, who work on computers all day every day but need help to copy and paste or insert page breaks in a Word document, couldn't read. The higher-tech you get, the more you restrict yourself to an audience of web-developers.

    It's an odd discussion. One the one hand, you those who insist that too much clicking and scrolling will put readers off, and on the other, those who insist there's no point in doing it if you don't make it "interactive", which, on examination, mostly turns out to mean more clicking and scrolling, only in Flash.
  5.  (7043.51)
    @Adam Rosenlund:

    "Who cares about giving the reader interactivity? This is comics. This isn't video games."


    Fuck yeah! If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.