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The Implications of Zwol
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Max Leibman
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Joined: 15 Apr 2001
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Location: Springfield, Nebraska (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a comment that relates to the current state of Zwol itself, but I figured it's a rather formalist bit of musing, so it belonged here, and not on the Zwol forum.

By now, I'm sure most everybody reading the Reinventing Comics Forum has seen that Greg has altered the setup for the current batch of strips, taking what was a three-by-one unit traditional-shaped comic strip (divided up into all sorts of panel arrangements) and changing it into a one-and-a-half-by-two (or something to that effect). The strip now runs vertically, going downwards.

Now, the $64,000 question: Why is this so rare in online comic strips?

I can see why so many go for the periodic, daily/weekly/whatever strip paradigm online, rather than making big, scrolling compositions. Periodic content brings repeat hits. It's an easy schedule to maintain and it forces reasonable deadlines. It's just enough content to get something across everyday, but the Web allows cartoonists to run longer stories than in print. Then, there are the technical considerations involved in McCloudian Infinite Canvas Compositions.

But why are 99% of the strips out there in traditional strip format?

I've often pondered turning the comic strip shape on it's side for a webpage -- this would seem to be a natural move, as it would allow the strip to nestle as the focal column in a three-column arrangement, with controls/navigation bits in a narrow column at the left, the main, center column for the strip, and the far right for the greetings and news postings that seem to be so popular.

A few people, like Greg with the current Zwol, or Scott Kurtz, with the screen-fitting 2 panel x 2 panel arrangement of PvP, have challenged the dominance of the traditional strip shape, but too few are taking this road.

Why must we be so blastedly conservative? Isn't it enough to be clinging to a format that's stagnated in newspapers? Must we keep newsprint's alignment of strips? I'm not asking for scrolling, Flash-enabled strips, or any other bizarre experimentation. I'm just asking webtoonists to consider some basic re-thinking of their chosen format. People are following the herd, when fertile new ground is just over the hill (you know, the hill that McCloud was on while shouting down to the masses in Greg's essay).

Anyhow, that's all for now. More strips in new shapes. That's what I want.

Peace out,

Max Leibman

p.s. - and I don't mean strips in the shape of a comics page, like Ancient Messages or 8-Bit Theatre.

[ This Message was edited by: Max Leibman on 2001-07-06 12:07 ]
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damonk13
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Joined: 01 May 2001
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Location: l'acadie

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, i'll let my strips speak for themselves...

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lylebclarke
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Joined: 15 Apr 2001
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Location: New Zealand and Denmark

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've stopped doing 'strip' shaped strips, but I can understand why they are popular.

1. A lot of people still dream of eventual print syndication of their strip (or the grandchild of their strip).

2. A strip fits snuggly, all at once, no-scrolling, click, click, click, into a browser window at 640x480, and comfortably at 800x600. There is something ?sthetically pleasing about seeing your entire strip, displayed all at once, looking nice on the 'page' and all relevant links only a click (and not a scroll) away.

I'll also add "AMEN" to the other couple of reasons you have already put forward.

All in all though, we are seeing a lot og variation, and in a short space of time, so I think all you need is patience Max, and you'll see the vertical 'strip' format losinga lot more ground on-ine.

Lyle
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Greg Stephens
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Joined: 14 Apr 2001
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my case the more standard shape was due to two factors:

Firstly, it seemed to be the way to go, as it emulated so many other strips, both on- and offline. Never the best reason to do something, but there was a second reason which, as Lyle suggested, was driven by the desire to have the entire strip show on a monitor at one time without any reader needing to scroll. I went so far with this idea as to provide a slightly smaller version of each comic so that it could fit entirely on a 640x480 resolution monitor.

The current shape of the comic is due more to my collaborator for this bit of the story having done layouts that ran vertically rather than horizontally. I'd been toying with a change in format prior to this and told her she could write the comics with any size or proportion in mind.

The problem with making the layout too large (it should go without saying) is that then one has to draw much more, thus working harder for the same display-time period.

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Jack Masters
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Joined: 04 Jun 2001
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2001 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think people feel the most comfortable reading left to right.

As for the scrolling, it has two advantages that I can think of right now. First, it hides the last panel so people don't accidently read the end of the joke before the beginning, and second, scrolling makes people more aware of the rest of the website and less likely to experience "tunnel-vision" and immedietly browse elsewhere.

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?platypus
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Joined: 02 Jul 2001
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2001 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I note that megatoko makes use of a large
format http://www.megatokyo.com/ also
http://www.exploitationnow.com/ does it as well.

Coolcat studio tends to use it as well
http://www.coolcatstudio.com/

Its interesting to look at how each one uses the space.

megatokyo used to devide up the space into
2x2 frames but now gose for a more dynamic look.

EN uses a 2x2 frame format as well, but will
change format if the story needs it.
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John2two
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Joined: 15 Apr 2001
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Location: Monroe, Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2001 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If we're down to listing folks who don't let the strip shape constrain their creativity, Glych and her strip No Stereotypes should be on the list.
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