Hey any starting out comic creators,
I wanted to talk about designing your story to the format it will be read it. So I’m mostly posting this because of two things: 1. I got a nice question on tumblr recently. 2. I’ve been reading The Wicked and The Divine on comixology. The Wicked and The Divine is a pretty fantastic comic so far. It’s about gods who have possed teenagers in exchange for becoming super famous rock, pop, and rap stars. Downside is they’ll die young. The writing sharp and the art is lovely.
I recommend you check it out AFTER It’s collected as a trade. Why wait?
Well, because The Wicked and The Divine is very frustrating to read in 20 page chunks. And this isn’t just an “I’m impatient and want the rest of the story now” thing. I reread the issues I have and the interruption of the story flow where I need to stop and then pull up the next issue is I think hurting the emersion/flow of the story being told. It is basically making me resent the floppy format. (floppy being monthly released issues) Cause it’s like watching 10 movie and every ten minutes you have to stop for a moment.
But then I’ve also been reading some old issues of Xmen lent to me by my pal Rachel Edidincause I want to basically follow along with her new podcast Rachel and Miles Xplain the X-men. And those older books work really well in floppy form. There is so much more story.
So is this just modern comics have gotten decompressed? I don’t think that is exactly it, because modern superhero big two books generally still seem to have a sense of completion or movement to each floppy. And manga chapters that appear in monthly magazines originally also seem to make sure you feel progress is happening in each bit.
It’s cause those books were designed to fit though formats. Those old Claremont books where written using a thing called the “Marvel Method.” Basically, Claremont would write like in this issue Jean is being sent visions of a fake past life in colonial times by mastermind where she and him are together, while the xmen look for a new mutant in a disco. Then the artist draws that, wrapping the whole story up in 20 pages. Claremont then goes back and adds captions and dialogue. The whole story or large chunk of the story is made to fit into the floppy.
Even more decompressed modern Superhero stories generally finish up in a year, so a larger precent of the arch/story is told in those 20 pages, than 20 pages of an over ten trade book like Fables or Saga. So of coarse it feels like more progress is made.
So designing your story to fit out it is coming it out is something you should think about. It’s not surprise that the earliest webcomics where mostly following the newspaper gagstrip structure. When you get just a page at a time a strong end cap to each page will really help strengthen the comic overall.
And I’ll say on this design for how you are releasing the comic, I love Kate Ashwin’s Widdershins and how each book stands on it’s own as a story. So even if you haven’t read book 1-3 you can still grab book 4
The tumblr ask I got was about how I felt about working horizontal comics verse vertical. You can read my answer in the link up top. Cliff notes version is I made that choice for Sorcery 101 without really thinking about it. I ended up finding creative panel layouts harder. So I probably won’t go back to Horizontal pages unless I have a story that I think needs a lot of long shots of background or something. Also it makes the books more expensive to print fyi that’s one of many reasons there hasn’t been a new Sorcery 101 book in awhile.
So think about not just yout plot and characters but how you are giving all that to your audience? Is it gonna be all at once? Is is going to be in chunks? How accessible do you want it to be mid story?