Well, although I’m not currently making a webcomic (at the time of writing), I thought that I’d talk about making webcomics again. This is mostly because I had a rather interesting lazy Sunday afternoon that made me think about webcomics again.
Basically, due to feeling slightly drowsy after over-eating at lunch, I was in a somewhat lazy and unenthusiastic mood. Suddenly, I really felt like binge-reading a webcomic.
So, naturally, this made me think about how to make webcomics more binge-readable.
Most of the best webcomics often lend themselves well to binge-reading and it’s usually a sign of a good webcomic if you end up spending an hour or more enthusiastically binge-reading it after discovering it, or if you return to it occasionally to binge-read it. So, how can you make your webcomic binge-readable?
1) Make it easy to find and read: Many binge-readable webcomics tend to have their own dedicated website, which will often prominently display the latest comic on the front page, with an easily-accessible archive page and both “previous” and “next” buttons that allow the user to skip between comics quickly.
But, if you only make occasional comics (like I do) and don’t know how to set up a website like that, then there are other things that you can do to make your webcomics easier to find and read. The easiest thing to do is simply to create a page on your site that contains links to all or most of your comics (and/or information about upcoming comics).
If you use a site like DeviantArt to publish your webcomics, then create a dedicated gallery folder for your webcomic. Copy the address of this folder and add it to the description of any webcomic updates you post, so that readers can easily look at more comics if they happen to stumble across one that they like. Just remember to add each new comic update to the folder when you submit it to the site though!
Likewise, if you publish your webcomic updates in groups of daily updates, then create a compilation page (like this one) after you’ve posted each group of comics. Not only does this help readers to look at the comics in the right order (which is especially important in narrative-based comics), but it also means that it’s easier for long-time readers to catch up if they miss several comics. Likewise, adding links to previous comics in the group to the accompanying text of each new comic can also be a good idea too.
Plus, although this isn’t something that I do with my own comics, one good way to make your webcomics binge-readable is simply to include your site address at the bottom of each update (in addition to signing it with your initials). This is so that if anyone happens to discover one of your comics somewhere else on the internet, they know where to look if they want to read more.
2) Self-contained comics: Although I experimented with narrative-based comics (like this one or this one) for large parts of last year, I’ve moved back to mostly making self-contained comics.
This is, amongst other reasons, because self-contained comics tend to lend themselves to binge-reading a lot better. When someone discovers a new webcomic, this will probably happen because they happen to see one interesting-looking or well-written comic update and want to see more. However, and this is the important part, you have no control over which comic update that they will see first.
So, if all or most of your comic updates are self-contained things that can be enjoyed on their own, then this means that your readers will be interested in seeing more. They won’t be confused by reading the middle part of a longer story and – more importantly – they won’t feel like they have to read the whole thing from the beginning.
Yes, if they like your comic, they’re probably going to spend hours reading it anyway. But, self-contained comics give them the feeling that they have more control over the amount of time they spend reading your comics (compared to, say, having to read a longer continuous story). Ironically, this often means that they’ll probably spend more time reading your webcomic.
3) Quality: Simply put, the most important factor in whether a new reader will binge-read your webcomic or not is whether your comic is any good or not. If a webcomic is good enough, then nothing else matters. If a comic is good enough, it doesn’t matter how easy it is to access or even whether it follows the traditional “rules” of webcomics, readers will enthusiastically scour the internet for more comic updates because they want to read more.
Of course, quality is something that you can only learn through experience and practice. Remember, no-one starts out making even vaguely good comics. But, you will improve if you keep practicing and try to put out comics on at least a semi-regular basis.
If you only make comics occasionally, then try to keep up some other kind of regular comic-related practice (for example, I do daily art practice when I’m not making comics). For example, here’s one of the really early comics from my occasional long-running webcomic series. This was made in 2012, less than a year after I started practicing art on a daily basis:
“Damania – Freeview” By C.A.Brown [20th October 2012]
And here’s a comic update from one of my favourite mini series from last year. As you can see, the difference in art quality is immediately noticeable. Even though my comic-making practice was somewhat sporadic, my daily art practice has at least helped the comic to look better:
“Damania Resized – Virtually Banned” By C. A. Brown
So, yes, the best way to make your webcomic binge-readable is to practice (in some way) as often as you can and to try to make good comics. Yes, this takes time and effort. It isn’t an instant way to make your comic more binge-readable. But, over time, it can work wonders!
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂