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December 09, 2023 - @558.06 (what is this?)
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Author Topic: Webcomics and other new media writing innovative formats  (Read 447 times)
yo252yo
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« on: October 01, 2023 @655.75 »

Hi all!
I have always loved writing, but I've always struggled to find readers. I was getting the feeling that people were reading less and less, so I gravitated towards writing short stories or altogether videogames (I probably overcompensated a bit ^^').
Anyway I recently realized that what I'm interested in is doing stuff in a different way from everyone else, and challenging the limits of the medium I use. It seems that all the writing communities online are about fantasy, litRPG or fanfiction, but I've never been interested in rehashing a formula.
One thing that influenced me a lot was webcomics who try and push the boundaries of new media, but I feel like these last few years all webcomics have become webtoon-like and very similar to actual comics, whereas there used to be some pretty text-heavy webcomics (Homestuck, 17776...) that did pretty crazy stuff with their format, even reader interaction sometimes. Is that just my impression or do you also concur? I suppose HTML fiction would have a hard time in the age of platforms...
Do you know of any interesting boundary pushing works? Or any platform to discuss this kind of work? What are your favorite weird/interactive pieces of fiction our there? Have you ever found yourself faced with this kind of problem as a writer? Since there's no platform for HTML fiction, any idea how one could get discovered?
Thanks!
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Gans
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2023 @336.53 »

I remember a blog owner, who took on his own big book project. He posted some new chapters between his regular content, always asking for feedback. And so a couple of his regular readers had a look at it. The biggest boost however came from getting a cover done. He paid someone for that. Don't judge the book by the cover? Guess what, people do! Then the cover designer wrote a nice essay about the book (which was complete at that stage) on her blog, so one thing led to another one, and the book appeared on a handful of private blogs.
Now the guy writes Part 4. However there are only a few readers. The guy writes it more for himself I guess. The market is still flooded with almost everything, isn't it? Free games, free books, everywhere. Free HTML fiction? Probably doesn't make a difference.

---

Technically, there was one webcomic which broke boundaries, and with that I mean the boundaries of the web browser. I'll never find this site again... it was on one of those deep ventures down the internet. The webcomic was a huge horizontal strip. So you had to scroll sideways to get to the end. That's surely more satisfying that clicking on links, which have the next page building up first. Well, I never noticed any other web comic doing that, but that felt innovative in a simple way.
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myleszey
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2023 @809.95 »

Technically, there was one webcomic which broke boundaries, and with that I mean the boundaries of the web browser. I'll never find this site again... it was on one of those deep ventures down the internet. The webcomic was a huge horizontal strip. So you had to scroll sideways to get to the end. That's surely more satisfying that clicking on links, which have the next page building up first. Well, I never noticed any other web comic doing that, but that felt innovative in a simple way.

This sounds amazing! I can imagine something like that requires a lot of planning though, since if it wasn't all published at once the reader would have to scroll all the way over through the comic to see new pages.
I imagine it took a while to load, too.

It's not particularly unique among webcomics, but out of all the ones I remember Digger was most memorable for the monochrome style and heavy use of narration in the text.
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yo252yo
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2023 @992.81 »

Thanks for the recommendation, I didn't know Digger, it does have a cool style!
I love the idea of horizontal strips too! I wonder how many other twists and experimentations I've missed!
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Darmodej
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2023 @959.22 »

pup by drew weing
discovered it once from dont remember where but its been in my heart ever since
and i havent seen it mentioned anywhere so its like my own personal blorbo now
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ano, ja jsem on
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2023 @197.87 »

Web writing is something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but I feel clueless about how to to pursue it.

I can't really pursue webcomics because I'm not very talented in art yet. I would like to post my stories on a site like Webnovel but like you said, a lot of it is dedicated to high fantasy stuff and fanfiction. Ideally, I'd like to present my writing in a neat and interactive way (and possibly with some kind of visual aid), but...I have no idea how to do that.
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Grimlock
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« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2023 @411.34 »

i don't think its just you, webcomics are formatted pretty samey nowadays. part of it is that webtoon is a very popular platform that prioritizes comics that are in a mobile format, which while nice when you're on mobile makes it difficult to share them (esp via screenshots).

another thing is that the options are self hosting (potentially expensive with how many images you may need to host for years and years and years). or to use a dedicated webcomic hosting platform, of which i think the best one is comic fury for its full on html and css customization, but i haven't seen anything too unique on there yet. i'm not really a webcomics guy so there could be something really cool on there, i just haven't seen it!
« Last Edit: October 11, 2023 @868.54 by Grimlock » Logged

TheFrugalGamer
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« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2023 @593.15 »

It's not particularly unique among webcomics, but out of all the ones I remember Digger was most memorable for the monochrome style and heavy use of narration in the text.

Well, I just finished reading Digger, and I am emotionally broken now. Thank you for the recommendation! That was really great and I didn't anticipate it would affect me so much. I've purchased a few of the books to support the author and I'm hoping I can get a few others hooked on it once they come in  :cheesy:
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myleszey
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« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2023 @633.18 »

That's fantastic, I'm glad my recommendation was a good one! It's been a while since my last read. I think I'll go back some time.

Maybe it's a good opportunity to go back and read all the comics that stopped updating for one reason or another... see if there are any new exciting stories! (The ones I'm thinking of are Poppy O'Possum and Cucumber Quest!)
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garystu
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« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2023 @357.94 »

I've always resented the way people treat Homestuck as boundary-breaking. It largely continued what its predecessor (Problem Sleuth) did, which means Problem Sleuth should be getting the credit at least. Homestuck also still used Flash in 2012, and even ten years ago Flash was considered old-hat and starting to die out.

Animated webcomics existed for a long time, but Kid Radd sticks out to me as a potential inspiration, a sprite comic about a videogame character who leaves his home game to explore the greater gaming world. But in other contexts, little animated panels were extremely common. There is Argon Zark, a comic which started in 1995 where if you clicked hotspots in the comic panels a little animation would play. If you want to get really old with animated comics try Accolade Comics, an animated comic book for the C64 released in 1987.

Text-heavy webcomics and illustrated blogs were also around. Illustrated blog Hyperbole and a Half is the easiest example. But comedy websites which used animations ripped from videogames to imply motion in a static blog post, like iMockery, also stand out to me.

Web media which featured special Flash's and animations was also done before. Like, it was really so ubiquitous that I find it wrong to make an example of a few authors, it was that ubiquitous. But since I need examples: Awkward Zombie author Katie Tiedrich would release Flash cartoons on her deviantart page, Hail-Nekoyasha. The so bad its still memed on CAD Animated Series was made in the late 00s. Although Flash is gone and authors have pivoted to MP4s, you can still find webcomics using video extremely often. Like Mr Boop, which made important updates (including its last one) as a video in 2021.

Not a webcomic, but a web animation, Homestar Runner would also feature updates which were just videogames sometimes. I played a lot of Trogdor but I was never good at it lol. Homestar Runner had an Adventure Game series called Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People based on it made in the late 00s.

And its OK to still like Homestuck and think its good. But I feel like its a "best of" of the webcomic and web media scene of the decade prior to its creation, not an original and boundary-breaking innovation. I would appreciate if its fans could also appreciate the vibrant web scene that inspired Homestuck, and which Homestuck pulled from, from before 2012.

.

I also don't think Webcomics are more same-y now than they were back then. There were always people decrying how generic Smackjeeves or DrunkDuck or ComicPress comics were, but there's no reason to not use a winning formula that works. There's always been hosts and templates, and there's been good webcomics that don't reinvent the wheel.

.

I'm most excited by 3D webcomics, lately. Not pre-rendered 3D or machinima webcomics, those have been around forever and are kinda ugly, but webcomics made with live-rendered 3D. Blender is opening up some new possibilities. I've seen a few experimental gimmick one-shots which are OK, but I think somebody is going to do something really cool with a 3D webcomic some day soon.
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formadscience
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« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2023 @914.75 »

I've always resented the way people treat Homestuck as boundary-breaking. It largely continued what its predecessor (Problem Sleuth) did, which means Problem Sleuth should be getting the credit at least. Homestuck also still used Flash in 2012, and even ten years ago Flash was considered old-hat and starting to die out.

It's true that Homestuck didn't really invent any of those things, but it did popularize them. I think that has a lot to do with why it's treated as boundary-breaking. I mean, just look at the sheer number of copycats it inspired. There are even a few webcomics that originated on the MSPA forums themselves. Sure, Problem Sleuth was also popular, but Homestuck was on a whole other level.

Though, personally, I resent the fact that it also popularized big, dramatic animations that require months of work and often lead to the webcomic being abandoned in the process. It's frustrating how many times that happened to webcomics I was following. Sometimes, breaking boundaries just isn't worth it. I don't think enough people really appreciate the fact that the reason Homestuck was able to do all of those things was because it had an entire team of artists and musicians working on those animations, and even then they took months and months of work and planning.
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myleszey
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« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2023 @685.60 »

Though, personally, I resent the fact that it also popularized big, dramatic animations that require months of work and often lead to the webcomic being abandoned in the process. It's frustrating how many times that happened to webcomics I was following. Sometimes, breaking boundaries just isn't worth it. I don't think enough people really appreciate the fact that the reason Homestuck was able to do all of those things was because it had an entire team of artists and musicians working on those animations, and even then they took months and months of work and planning.

It's worth mentioning that the author wasn't doing anything other than working on the webcomic at the height of its popularity - it had become popular enough to be a full-time job, which is extremely unusual for the medium. As a result the update schedule was extremely fast compared to any competitors... the fact that there were a dozen new pages a day at some points was enough to call it innovative in the field.
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