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QUACKCAST 538 - Fashion and Trends in Webcomics

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, July 6, 2021

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We chat about the styles and trends in webcomics and what causes them, whether it's people copying stuff they like, working with the limitations of the technology they're using or other reasons.

In the early days of webcomics a few early birds got very popular simply because they were they were there first: 8 Bit Fantasy, Sluggy Freelance, PVP, Penny Arcade etc. They garnered imitators and so webcomic fashions and styles were born. We had a huge wave of sprite comics, slacker gamer comics, and slice of life comics. The “2 friends sitting on a couch playing video games and being dicks to each other while not understanding girls” was probably the most popular trend for years!

Webcomics have had a few explosions of popularity and trends diversified over the years. A significant one has been the so-called “webtoon format”, which is actually the Scott McCloud infinite canvas idea that was developed years before. That site encourages creators to use it because they prefer it for their mobile site and app. But it's created a larger trend of people making their comics in that way regardless of host.

Tapas and webtoon only promote certain styles of webcomics on their front page which in turn creates another style: manga influenced work with large eyes, flattish, muted colours, digital 2D art only etc with only a limited range of story types. People see that and start to imitate it, thinking that's how webcomics should be, or if they do work like that they can be popular, or just because they like it, or don't know any better…

The limitations of technology create styles when people use premade models in popular 3D programs. This happened in the early days of 3D with all the Counterstrike comics and people using 3DMax and poser models. It happens with in digital 2D art with an overuse of standard brushes in Photoshop, Gimp and now Procreate and Infinite painter. These things are influenced by limitations of the tech, which creates a new style and that gains imitators.

What popular tends and styles have you noticed in webcomics? And what casued them?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Patchwork and Lace - Darkness abounds, walking into a dark tomb, past shadows and demon parasites, into mysteries beyond light and human understanding. Deep underground where humans were never meant to venture, learning horrific truths about the universe and what lies beyond… The distorted bass line takes you down… deep down.

Topics and shownotes

Featured comic:
24Hour Cake -

Featured Music:
Patchwork and Lace - - by Itsasooz, rated T

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Tantz Aerine -
Pitface -
Ozoneocean -
kawaiidaigakusei -
Banes -

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Hapoppo at 11:08AM, July 7, 2021

I tried the scrolling method before, but it just wasn't for me, at least not in PynkFL. With a traditional page, you open up the book and see everything. All of the panels play off eachother, like a series of micro-stories making up a mini-story. With the scrolling method, you read a few panels, scroll down, one or two panels disappear and a few more appear. It makes for a more linear reading experience, but there's nothing really dynamic about that. I know traditional formats don't really play well with phones, but to me personally it's a worthwhile trade-off.

Ironscarf at 8:01AM, July 7, 2021

@Ozoneocean, if they got vertical scrolling idea from McCloud then facebook and twitter must have got it from him too? It's the inevitable consequence of mobile phone design and whatever else you can credit him with, I don't believe you can credit him with that.

paneltastic at 5:27AM, July 7, 2021

The reason most of us in the late 90's were making 1 x 4 strips to begin with is because we were still chasing that newspaper syndication contract. Same with a lot of the same pop culture themes the comics were based on. Once it became obvious that that was not worth pursuing, you saw a lot of creators branch out and experiment more. You also had a lot of us doing like most artists do and drawing from our own life experiences which, back then, consisted a lot of pop culture experiences (video games, movies, etc). It's one of the reasons I started Please Rewind so I could tell my experiences in video rental. I also remember a comic called Theater Hopper that did something similar for movie theater workers that had moderate success.

Ozoneocean at 1:37AM, July 7, 2021

@Roma- yes, speed really does play into it as another aspect that infleunces styles and trends. 3D and 2D art can be an awful combo haha

Ozoneocean at 1:35AM, July 7, 2021

Funny, in the early 2000s was when we had a trend of experimental comics in many forms (comics are WAY less experimental and clever now). Wanderjive was an AWESOME infinate canvas comic. I loved it. Sadly it's gone now, but that opened me up to the posibilities of scrolling in all clever directions. There were choose your own path comics, comics with animation, zoom etc. With FLASH (which was a BRILLIANT creative tool) we had all sorts of amazing stuff. HTML 5 can't do a fraction of what you could do with ease and a pirated version of Macromedia Flash back then.

Ozoneocean at 1:31AM, July 7, 2021

I disagree @IronScarf- Webtoon definitely got the scrolling canvas idea from McCloud because even though they missunderstood it, it was McCloud that opened up the "canvas". He didn't just suggest huage pages with ultimate freedom, he actually suggested the possibility of just opening it up and using scrolling as a storytelling method. He suggested vertical scrolls, horozontal and huge pages all as different aproaches to the standard comic page format. Basically the format Webtoon decided on was just one of his minor suggestions, but it was definitly one of them.

roma at 3:42PM, July 6, 2021

I've seen a lot of trends in comics over the years. I know webtoon is now more  mainstream but I think the reason the styles are like that is because of the speed that the artists need to produce the comics. It is faster to draw in that 2d flat color style . Another trend is using 3d asset backgrounds. These are great but they often break my reading experience when I see them. I'm not a fan of heavily detailed background when its in a panel for a headshot of a character. Or a backgrounds that still looks 3d with 2d drawn characters. It reminds me of the old 90s cartoons "gimmick" of adding 3d assets to a scene to impress viewers. In my opinion 3d backgrounds look better when there is a cohesive style throughout. This can be achieved by using filters to match the background to the line work of the artist. I have a bad habit of having no backgrounds. I've used 3d background in my comic t times and they are time savers. I'm sure that it has influence the style a little bit but hopeful

Ironscarf at 2:52PM, July 6, 2021

I don't think Scotts McCloud's infinite canvas idea has much to do with the webtoon format personally. His idea was for the ultimate freedom of a comic that could go in any direction you wanted it to go, with no format constraints. The webtoon is constrained by a single unchanging format, namely the direction of scroll on your mobile phone. In that respect they are polar opposites.

Jason Moon at 7:52AM, July 6, 2021

Fur Bikini*

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