Who's doing neat stuff with the web and comics?
May 27, 2009 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Most comics on the web seem to be just scanned in print comics or the equivalent of same. Can you point me to any web comics that are making use of web/internet technology to make the comics reading experience different from print comics? No need to mention Scott McCloud.

For instance, all the web comics I've seen are essentially just one gif or jpeg per page. Are there any web comics that are putting each panel of a page in a div and layering them via css for dramatic effect? Are any using selectable web text in their word balloons instead of hand or computer done lettering that is just part of the art? Stuff like this, which incorporate aspects of the web to make comics, is what I'm looking for.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
One of the difficulties is that most of those techniques really, really suck when viewed outside of a small range of modern browsers. Things like web typography in particular just aren't there yet.

Alpha Shade is interesting in that all the art is done as vectors in flash, rather than scanned in or photoshopped bitmap art. That means that it's scalable and zoomable, etc. It's VERY irregularly updated, though.
posted by verb at 9:11 AM on May 27, 2009

The alt-text in XKCD and A Softer World and Dinosaur Comics (and others, but these are the ones I read) springs to mind. Not as fancy as what you're describing, but something that you can't do with paper.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:17 AM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: when I am King is an oldy but a great comic that may be along the lines of what you seek. It gets webbier and more internetty in the later chapters.
posted by consummate dilettante at 9:17 AM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

There are some Sam and Max comics with a weird mouseover dialogue thing going on. Doesn't look like it's being updated anymore, though.

Another issue with fancy interactive stuff is that many makes of webcomics make some amount of money from selling books. If you make a comic that can't be printed on paper, you give up that potential income.
posted by lore at 9:18 AM on May 27, 2009

Amazing Super Powers uses a text that pops up when your mouse is on the comic as well as a hidden link in the comic itself.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 9:23 AM on May 27, 2009

Diesel Sweeties often has little animations in the frames.
posted by radioamy at 9:32 AM on May 27, 2009

Argon Zark! updates at a rate of about two pages per year these days, but its use of rollover effects and animations might be what you're looking for.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:47 AM on May 27, 2009

Cyanide and Happiness produce Flash-animated comics once a month or so. Also, their standard comics occasionally feature .gif animations.

I also wanted to point out that the extra jokes in Dinosaur Comics aren't just in the image's alt text, but in each RSS item's title and in the "Subject" field when you click to email a comment -- definitely something you can't do in newsprint.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:17 AM on May 27, 2009

Speaking of Dinosaur Comics, the strip on steganography had a secret message embedded in it steganographically (perhaps unsurprisingly). Possible on paper, I suppose, but not easy.
posted by hayvac at 10:53 AM on May 27, 2009

PoCom UK - it's flash-based and allows you to explore parallel and diverging narratives.
posted by O9scar at 10:58 AM on May 27, 2009

The MS Paint Aventures comics make use of animation and also allow the readers to suggest what happens next in the comic. He started a new comic on it called Homestuck and I haven't taken to it quite as well as the previous one, Problem Sleuth.
posted by zsazsa at 11:00 AM on May 27, 2009

xkcd and Dinosaur Comics - among others - include extra jokes in mouseover text. But at the end of the day, it's very hard to do anything "interesting" like animation, etc, without it being stupid/annoying and/or broken on several browsers. As lore points out, it also damages your ability to make money with books.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:18 AM on May 27, 2009

Best answer: I recently came across a Scott McCloud-esque treatsie on digital comics that I think does a good job at explaining how an online comic could function. I believe the author was inspired by the work on the excellent Platinum Grit.
posted by jaybeans at 11:25 AM on May 27, 2009

Freak Angels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield include a link for transcripts of each strip. The mouseover text on the above strips are usually extra jokes, but the transcripts could potentially be used for search engines to help you find a particular comic later, and by the blind using screen reader software.
posted by davextreme at 11:32 AM on May 27, 2009

A great many web-only comics take advantage of the web-ness by varying the layout to fit the content. A print comic has to be the same dimensions every time, while a web comic can take up as much space as it needs to tell the story and doesn't need to be restricted to the 3 panel layout, or waste the first two panes of the Sunday strip because some newspapers don't print them.

Okay, it's not "neat" but it's using the benefits of the medium.
posted by Ookseer at 11:33 AM on May 27, 2009

The alt-text in XKCD and A Softer World and Dinosaur Comics (and others, but these are the ones I read) springs to mind. Not as fancy as what you're describing, but something that you can't do with paper.

It's not identical, but I've always sort of thought the little dude-at-the-desk-in-the-corner was the analog analog to XKCD-style alt-text. See this Tom Toles cartoon, ferinstance.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:51 AM on May 27, 2009

Sorry for the double post. I just remembered that back in ...maybe 1997 I animated some of Dark Horse's Star Wars comics. Simple Flash stuff, some parallax, camera movement, etc, not full animation. I'm reasonably sure they're not online any more, but it's another "It has been done" data point. I suspect it's not done very much because making comics, in general, isn't very profitable, and adding anything to the ink on paper cuts into profits.
posted by Ookseer at 11:55 AM on May 27, 2009

Request Comics works on the idea that the comics are created off of ideas people submit via e-mail or the web form. Though paper only comics do that too, I suppose, with reader submissions by snail-mail.
posted by sandraregina at 12:07 PM on May 27, 2009

Check out Apocamon

The same guy did some other comics that would only work on the web, like a comic that was really long, so you just kept scrolling right, but his site has gone.
posted by Iax at 12:32 PM on May 27, 2009

Best answer: While not bells-and-whisle-y in terms of interactivity, etc. I always found how Korean webcomics developed to be interesting. There's no flash or anything super particular involved, they just simply changed the formatting of the comics to be read in a scroll down fashion to escape the constraints of panel-based comics on the web. As a result, if you don't use high speed internet it takes a while to load a comic since the image/images can be large, but I hypothesize that for Korean webcomic artists, this wasn't even part of their list of concerns since most of the country is wired through high speed connections. This might be more difficult to do in a country where connection speed is spottier.

It doesn't sound like much, but when you notice how artists place text and images or even use things like image sizing, etc. to create pacing and timing, there's a lot of thought put into the editing process to create a flowing down effect. With some of the better artists it's sometimes almost cinematic as you scroll down. Examples 1, 2, 3
posted by kkokkodalk at 12:34 PM on May 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks all, especially for When I Am King, it's fantastic!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:32 PM on June 3, 2009

Today's guest comic on qwantz, by Andrew Hussie of the aforementioned MS Paint Adventures, is a good example.
posted by librarina at 8:45 AM on June 12, 2009

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