The Week-Long Comic

The Concept

This week I drew a long comic. A very long comic. In fact, this week's comic is 5 times as long as the usual Zwol daily strip, which left me with the problem of how to present it.

The two most obvious alternatives would be to post it all at once as a side-scrolling comic (making use of the 'infinite canvas' available to artists in the digital realm) or to break it up into 5 equal-size pieces and post one bit per day. Because of the flow to the strip, I really didn't want to break it up, but neither could I justify putting in 5 times as much work for something that would be posted for only one day. Comic artists may be a trifle nuts, but we're not inefficient!

Exactly how the idea hit me, I can't say, but the solution I came up with goes something like this: Most comics (most comic readers instinctivly realize) substitute space for time. Why couldn't I do the reverse and make time work for me as space? Rather than making the reader scroll the page to view the comic, I'd let the comic scroll itself all week.

How It Works

The comic is 5 times the size of my normal Zwol strips, and contains 20 panels. If I were to post it as a single comic all at once, it would run off the edge of your monitor, like this:

And because you can only see some of it at any one time, you would use the horizontal scroll bar in your browser to 'move' the page to the left so that you could read the entire thing. You start at panel one and gradually move your 'viewing window' to the right and wind up at panel 20. Easy, right?

Well this comic works exactly like that, except that instead of you manually scrolling the window to view the whole comic, we'll let time do the scrolling so that at the beginning of the week- Monday at 12:00am, in fact- the first panel appears and every 6 hours after that, the 'window' moves one panel to the right!

Note that we're not merely seeing new panels over time- older panels are also vanishing from our view. Once a panel is 24 hours old, it moves off to the left of the 'window' to make room for the next new panel moving into view on the right. For example, on Monday at 8pm, you would see panels 1 through 4, but by Tuesday at 8am you would see panels 3 through 6:

Because of the way the comic is constructed, most of the time you will have a full 4-panel comic to read, but just which 4 panels you see depends on what day and what time you check in. My archives will function as usual, so if you missed a day or two, you can still go back and see the panels that appeared on those days, and when the week is over, I'll post the entire comic as a traditional manually-operated side-scroller so you can see it all at once (well, as much as will fit on your monitor, that is!), but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this little experiment.

(And I know that some people won't like it, preferring to get one whole comic each day rather than a piece of one every 6 hours, but everything will be back to normal- as normal as Zwol gets, anyhow- next week!)

Links of Interest

  • Abby's Menagerie is an example of a comic that displays incrementally over time (though generally in only a minute or two, not anything even approaching a week).
  • Framed: An online comic that has frequently been much larger than the monitor window. Like this one, for example.
  • Infinite Canvas draft: A project to expand the capabilities of comics in the digital realm. The author is also soliciting additional requirements to the spec.
  • Scott McCloud's online comics have never been confined to the area of any monitor.