Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Story Guide
crazyduck at 10:43PM, July 16, 2010
posts: 46
joined: 1-11-2006
My comic reached 400 strips not too long ago, but my audience is still pretty small. So this got me thinking about what the odds are that someone would even bother starting to read my comic at this point, as it's kind of a little bit continuinty heavy meaning you kind of have to read most of the 400 strips that came before to really know what's going on. My worry increases when I take into consideration that the comic started four years ago, and the art has vastly improved over the years… to the point that I'm sure the earlier strips are BAD enough to turn away readers.

What I'm getting to is… should I consider making some sort of quick story guide so new readers don't feel like they have to invest several hours into my comic in order to know what's going on? Do you guys think it would help attract more new readers as they'd be able to more easily jump on board?

I'm kind of uneasy about writing a story guide because, not that my comic is some great literary masterpiece, but I do feel like writing up a cliff notes section of sorts does kind of cheapen the actual story. It's sort of like if you try to explain the LOST it just sounds nuts, but if you watch the show al the way through, it develops a lot more believably and organically than you'd expect. That's an extreme example though, so maybe it doesn't apply here. I guess what I mean is… I'd prefer people to read the whole comic rather than skim the basic plot points, but maybe that's asking too much at this juncture.

What do you guys think?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:48AM
skoolmunkee at 1:48PM, July 18, 2010
posts: 7,058
joined: 1-2-2006
Haha, why did I not find this thread sooner?

I don't find the early art bad at all, in comparison with the newer art, the old is just less polished (and black and white). It's perfectly readable and doesn't detract from it, not in the same way that actually-bad art would.

If there's an appropriate point in the most recent 50 pages or so, you can even direct people there specifically and tell them it's a good starting story. A good point would be one where there is not a lot of catching up involved, though.

That said, a story guide is often a good idea, especially when (like your comic) it has the appearance of a gag-a-day strip but relies on continuity.

I don't think the story guide has to be long or really involved. I haven't read too far into the comic, but readers are mainly concerned about only getting the gist of things. If someone really likes the comic they'll go back and read the strips. A story guide should only set things up enough to provide a good jumping-in point (in my opinion), as you said highlighting the most important elements or story changes.

There's a couple ways to do it. I wouldn't just do a timeline, that kind of thing gets boring to read fast.

If it's certain plotlines which are important (like the developing relationship between Mikey and Jill) then provide a quick summary of that. A nice addition might be to include a strip or two where something important happens, just to help draw people in. Then do a different summary about a different element. If it's changes to individual characters which is important, organize some summaries that way. Like Gary's development at being a guardian angel. You could have an early one, a later one, and a recent one (so long as they show what you are trying to get across).
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:43PM
crazyduck at 9:28PM, July 18, 2010
posts: 46
joined: 1-11-2006

I ended up just doing a pretty straight forward summary of important plot points, but maybe I'll do something a bit more creative or engaging in the future.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:48AM
blindsk at 5:19PM, July 20, 2010
posts: 560
joined: 5-5-2010
Haven't really had much experience with a story-based comic, but would you consider it a good idea to incorporate flashbacks? Maybe have the characters reference a key point made in the past that is important to the overall storyline. You could even provide a link in the comments section to the comic your characters are citing.

My apologies for not looking through your comic beforehand, but does it include story arcs? Often times I can jump into a comic at the beginning of the current arc, and then if I get bored I'll catch up on the rest of the storylines later.

And lastly, I second the point with avoiding a timeline. People will be more likely to start with your strip from the beginning. Anyway, hope this helps!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM

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