Although this is a rambling article that is supposed to be about making webcomics, I’m going to have to start by talking about music for a while. As usual, there’s a good reason for this that I hope becomes obvious later.
A few days before writing this article, I stumbled across an old cover disc (frm 2007) from “Metal Hammer” magazine [Edit: This article was originally prepared before this magazine closed down in late 2016 😦 ] whilst looking through my CD collection.
I could probably write another article about these free CDs (and the really cool cover art that some of them have) but the reason that I mention it is because this particular CD contained a surprisingly cool song that I’d never actually bothered to listen to before. This song also contained an interesting feature that made me think about webcomics (and other creative mediums too).
If you’re interested, the song in question is one called “Burning Eden” by Carnal Forge. Most of it is the usual kind of shoutier metal that has become a lot more common over the past decade or two, and the song’s chorus is absolutely epic and the instrumental parts are really cool/ complex too. But, better than that, the song also contains what I like to call a “memorable moment”.
This is a super-dramatic part of a song (the part of “Burning Eden” is 30 seconds long, and it takes place at 3:43-4:13 ) that makes you instantly want to repeatedly listen to that one segment of the song at the loudest possible volume. In this case, the sound goes dead for a couple of seconds, as a heavily-distorted guitar briefly plays quietly in the distant background before the lead singer launches into an even louder and more passionate version of the already spectacular chorus. It really bowled me over the first time I heard it.
The interesting thing is that this sort of thing isn’t exactly restricted to music. I mean, if you think about some of your favourite comics, TV shows, games etc.. you can probably find stand-out moments that still seem ridiculously dramatic no matter how many times you see/ play/ read them. These are the things where, even if you’ve forgotten about the rest of the story, you can still remember that one part.
This is usually because that particular part is extremely emotionally-powerful, extremely funny, extremely scary/disturbing (in an inventive way), extremely inspirational, extremely profound, extremely cool-looking etc… Even if it’s just a webcomic update where you include twice as much artistic detail as usual, it still has the potential to become a memorable moment if you handle it correctly.
Still, it’s important to work out where you want to put them – near the beginning or the end is usually a good choice in a linear story. But, if your webcomic consists of lots of self-contained updates, then trying to include one every 1-20 updates is probably something that’s worth aiming for.
Of course, one of my first thoughts after thinking about memorable moments was something like “is it possible to make something that consists entirely of memorable moments?“. I soon realised that the answer was “no”.
These moments only stand out because they are significantly more dramatic than the other great stuff. It’s all relative. To go back to the Carnal Forge song I mentioned earlier – the “ordinary” chorus on it’s own would be a very memorable moment if it appeared in a different (and less good) song, but the reason why the final chorus is the only seriously memorable moment in the song is that it sounds three times more dramatic than the other dramatic parts of the song do.
So, you have to choose these moments carefully – since you’ll probably only get to use one or two of them in your webcomic (possibly more, depending on how long-running your webcomic is) before the dramatic value begins to wear off slightly. But, if this happens, then you can always get it back by coming up with something even more impressive – although this obviously gets progressively more difficult the more times you do it.
Still, you only have a limited number of memorable moments to work with, so use them carefully. But, if you include too many, then it’ll self-regulate anyway, since people will only really remember the best one or two of them. Not to mention that it’s also possible to unintentionally include memorable moments by accident too.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂