Although I seem to be taking a break from actually making comics at the moment, I got back into reading them again recently. In particular, I ended up digging up all of my old “Simpsons” trade paperbacks and have been re-reading them. And, yes, “The Simpsons” exists in comic form and – sometimes – these comics can actually be better than the TV show.
1990s/ early-mid 2000s nostalgia and amusing jokes aside, one of the reasons why these comics are so fascinating is that they give you a more in-depth look at the “world” of the TV show. Because comics can be read at a slower pace than a TV show can be watched, you can take a closer look at the background details. And, because of this, there are often a lot more amusing background details than you would find in the TV show.
So, for today, I thought that I’d talk very briefly about worldbuilding in comics. I’ll also be showing some re-runs of my old comics because, well, it’s the least I could do since my webcomic series has been on hiatus this month (but will return for another mini series on the fifth of October).
Surprisingly worldbuilding is something that I actually seem to have neglected when making many of my comics. Most of my comics from this year (some of which can be read here, here, here, here and here) are “newspaper comic”-style webcomics. I tended to make these comics fairly quickly and, as such, didn’t really have time to create much of a detailed “world” in the backgrounds.
Yes, there are a few recurring locations, such as Roz & Derek’s living room:
Or the town’s cinema:
Or Rox’s apartment:
Or Harvey’s office:
Or the corridor of the flat that the four characters live in:
But, for the most part, the background and “world” of my more recent comics is shown in the same level of detail that you might expect to see in a low-budget animated TV show. Since thinking of my comic as a sitcom was one of the things that I use to get motivated, this is one explanation. But this was also mostly done for time reasons, and it is also a byproduct of the fact that these comics were at least partially inspired by daily newspaper comics.
If you look at most syndicated newspaper comics, the focus is usually on the dialogue rather than the backgrounds. Because of their daily format, the writer and/or artist can’t take much time to make detailed backgrounds. In fact, many syndicated newspaper comics will actually use plain backgrounds at every available opportunity.
And, yet, good worldbuilding can make a comic about three times more interesting. Having a consistent and detailed “world” in the background of a comic can make the difference between someone reading a comic for amusement and someone returning to a comic again and again because they want to revisit somewhere reassuringly familiar.
So, I guess that what I’m trying to say here is that if you want to immerse your readers in your comic, then creating a consistent and detailed “world” that your comic takes place in is a good thing to do. “The Simpsons” has a bit of an advantage here, since it is (mostly) set within a single town and because it has existed for over two decades, but it is a perfect example of good worldbuilding in comics (and TV shows).
But, if you don’t have the time to do this, then a good substitute can be to include a few recurring locations. Yes, it doesn’t come close to the level of immersive detail that can be found in more developed comics, but it is probably better than the blank backgrounds that appear in a lot of syndicated comics.
Sorry for the fairly short and basic article, but I hope that it was interesting 🙂