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#240650 - 04/08/99 08:22 PM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
Ben Adams Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/98
Posts: 483
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
Mark,

Thanks for the info. (I was able to pull up the site today, and it looked great.) I found the Macromedia website without much of a problem.

For all interested parties, the software is, unfortunately, expensive ($269), but they do give you a free 30-day trial period to play with it. (Go to http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/trial/for more info.)

I, personally, am very interested in finding ways to captivate people who AREN'T hardcore comics fans with my work over the Internet and totally understand how a slow download could turn off a potential reader. I can see how this package could be a great help. Thanks again.

(Just in case anyone is wondering, I do hope to have a "tribal marketing update" posted to COMICON.com very shortly. Some fairly encouraging things are happening with me.)

I hope to have more of my online comics related thoughts posted soon. I've just been so, so busy.

------------
Ben Adams
http://www.mediawarpcomics.com
_________________________
Ben Adams has led an interesting life. He writes about it in his blog and in his autobiographical webcomic, MISFIT\'S JOURNEY .

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#240651 - 04/09/99 09:10 AM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
Don Markstein Offline
Member

Registered: 11/24/98
Posts: 1202
Loc: Earth
Surprise vs. preparation is always a balancing act. When you pull that amazing plot twist out at the last minute, you want some foundation for it in what has gone before, so nobody thinks you've just made it up on the spot and thrown it in because you didn't have anything better -- but not so much foundation that the reader expects it.

I guess it's probably the same with multimedia effects. Of course, this is a question everyone will have to answer for himself, but it seems to me, you'd probably want some grounding, at least a hint that this is one of the tools available for the story, and not suddenly change the rules near the end.

Just my two cents.

Quack, Don
_________________________
Today in Toons
Every Day's an Anniversary

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#240652 - 04/09/99 10:42 AM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
MarkBadger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/25/98
Posts: 22
Joe,
Load time as an excuse, a complaint or a whine is dead, but as an artistic issue it so hot, I don't know where to begin. Load time is like the paper you draw on, the ink you use the paper printed on the ink the printers use, it's one of the vehicles that gets your thoughts to the reader. If your actually doing online comics, not reformatting print, it is the first fundamental question one has to ask. Its about the pause that a reader has before the story starts. How much do you want him to wait as he turns the page? How much detail is in your drawing and what is it neccessary for. Will a straight line work instead of a curve? One curve instead of two? Thats all a balance between load time, one of the materials you're working with, and artistic intent. Controlling load time is one of my main thoughts these days.

Mark Badger

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#240653 - 04/09/99 12:33 PM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
Joe Zabel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Mark-- Thanks for the very interesting comment! A couple of things--

You referred to 'doing online comics, not reformatting print.' I have to say I'm not comfortable with making a big deal out of this distinction. The choice should always be in the hands of the artist, not some critic who's making arbitrary distinctions.
There are folks who say if it's got animation, it's not comics. I don't agree with them. There are also apparently folks who say if you aren't using all the new bells and whistles, its not online comics. I'd have to disagree with them as well. The artists know best. Lets all get out of their way and let them do their job.

Your comments on load time are especially interesting, and I absolutely agree with them. Since 'real' load time will become negligible in the near future, maybe what you're referring to should be called 'pause time.'

Pause time is an important tool in coordinating various effects. For example, if you begin the strip presentation with a piece of audio, you might not want the first panel to appear until after it finishes. Hence a pause is needed.

The tricky part is determining how much the momentum of browsing the comic should be controlled by the artist, and how much of it should be left to the reader. In print comics, we use splash pages, white space, and a number of other devices to suggest to the reader to pause-- but the choice is ultimately the reader's.

------------------
Joe Zabel
_________________________
Joe Zabel

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#240654 - 04/09/99 01:09 PM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
bcbailey Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/99
Posts: 47
Cool, Mark. I just checked out the football cartoon and it was excellent (this is coming from someone who can't stand football). Great design!

I'm not too educated on the Flash deal, but I can definitely see where the advantage is when it comes to download time. One of my favorite animated cartoons on the web at www.spumco.com uses Flash, and I'm always impressed by the download time.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Flash a vector tool? That's great for a certain kind of design, but not for those who want more painterly effects. Therefore it can't be used for all comics on the web.

When I first put up my comic, I was unlearned in the ways of the web, and my images loaded painfully slow. Fortunately a fellow cartoonist let me know and gave me some valuable tips for compressing images. For better download time, I've shrunk my images as small as possible without compromising the quality. I've also split my seperate panels into little GIFs instead of having one big hunky GIF. This makes the pages load faster, or give the impression that they're loading faster. It keeps the reader alert, instead of making them bored by having just one long page load.

There's ways to improve the load time problem considerably, it just takes reading a little on the subject and a bit of cleverness.

B.C. Bailey
www.huzzy.com

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#240655 - 04/09/99 02:12 PM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
Jeff Zugale Offline
Member

Registered: 12/06/98
Posts: 1806
Loc: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Hi all, I have a copy of Flash 2 (not the latest version) and I'm having a lot of fun with it. To respond to BC's question:

Quote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Flash a vector tool? That's great for a certain kind of design, but not for those who want more painterly effects. Therefore it can't be used for all comics on the web.


AU CONTRAIRE mon frére! While the art in Flash is vector-based, it HANDLES like a paint program. It's WAY easy to draw in, has a pressure sensitive brush (great with a tablet), and a GREAT feature of doing BUCKET FILLS into areas that AREN'T COMPLETELY CLOSED OFF. I wish Photoshop would do that. Heh! Here is an example of what you can draw in Flash (sorry it's so horribly sexist):

[img]http://www.pagancity.com/images/flashbabe1.jpg[/img]

This took me about 10 minutes. Note that Flash uses Layers like Illustrator, so you can do a pencil layout, then ink and paint over it. It's such a great tool. I'm going to do the MFH online spinoff with it. Eventually.

Quote:
I'm not too educated on the Flash deal, but I can definitely see where the advantage is when it comes to download time. One of my favorite animated cartoons on the web at www.spumco.com uses Flash, and I'm always impressed by the download time.


Get educated my friend! It's worth every penny to get your hands on Flash.

The Spumco site is something I've mentioned before as a great use of Flash -- and this touches on Joe Z's concept of "pause time." The beginning of each of these Spumco cartoons is a fairly long, film-cartoon style opening credits sequence. I was getting a little annoyed by it, until I realized that it's there to make "pause time" to let the fairly complex remainder of each cartoon download more fully! The opening sequence itself is not very complex, and obviously doesn't take long to download. However, WHILE it plays (about a minute) the REST of the cartoon is still streaming in in the background. Very clever. The latest cartoon even includes a little game at the beginning -- while you're frantically trying to stick the duck up Jimmy's butt, it's downloading.

So, this is a good example of the use of "pause time" to make a complex animation stream more smoothly. Heh. That crafty Kricfalusi. [img]/resources/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

BTW, make sure you try to find the Easter Egg that's in the last one, guys. It's cool.


------------------
Jeff Zugale
Pagan City Comics
www.pagancity.com

[This message has been edited by Jeff Zugale (edited 04-09-99).]
_________________________
Jeff Zugale www.jeffzugale.com/
My "Just A Bit Off..." webcomic

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#240656 - 04/09/99 10:17 PM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
bcbailey Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/99
Posts: 47
OH YEAH! Not a bad use of Flash if I do say so myself Jeff....Been studying those Spumco style babes I see, maybe a bit TOO much. You had me doing one of those Tex Avery style double takes. Next time make her a brunette though. [img]/resources/ubb/wink.gif[/img]

Anyway, I see that Flash is capable of alot artistically, I wasn't arguing that. But bucket fills to unclosed areas is one thing..I was alluding to the more natural media tools like in Metacreation's Painter or effects like in Photoshop.

I definitely see the advantage if you're doing your standard line art with coloring though. The work is very nice and loads super fast. The animation possibilites are great. Even though Painter is my top program right now, I sure wouldn't mind giving Flash a try one day. It's capabilities are very attractive.

As far as load time though, I think that a little down the line everything on the web will load at those top notch speeds. Then Flash would be obsolete.

B.C. Bailey
www.huzzy.com



[This message has been edited by bcbailey (edited 04-09-99).]

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#240657 - 04/10/99 09:31 AM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
Ben Adams Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/98
Posts: 483
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
This post is sort of a response to what Justin Savage has been talking about.

I, personally, am not bothered at all if my favorite alternative cartoonists ABANDON the traditional comics form and flat out move to online animation along the lines of what Spumco delivers. I make no secret of the fact that I am a huge fan of Rob Walton's RAGMOP. Rob's day job is in cartoon animation. If Rob decided he could do online RAGMOP cartoons, I would not be any less inclined to support them.

What bothers me most about the current comics market is that there are so many creators that are not finding the audience they deserve. If alternative comics creators find that online animation does a better job of captivating a audience, I think they should switch to online animation. I'm less concerned with what you call it than I am with whether you are exciting and engaging people with it.

Actually, since minicomics (AKA minicomix AKA newave comix) is a term that came to be associated with the grassroots/homegrown/idiosyncratic comics that people like Matt Feazell do, perhaps there should be a term for grassroots/homegrown animation as well. I don't think, at this point, that it's particularly easy for the average joe to do online animation, but that could change.

------
Ben Adams
www.mediawarpcomics.com
_________________________
Ben Adams has led an interesting life. He writes about it in his blog and in his autobiographical webcomic, MISFIT\'S JOURNEY .

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#240658 - 04/10/99 02:29 PM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
bcbailey Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/99
Posts: 47
Ben said:
I, personally, am not bothered at all if my favorite alternative cartoonists ABANDON the traditional comics form and flat out move to online animation along the lines of what Spumco delivers.


Ben, I think the standard comics form of sequential panels should stay in tact. I think it's a great form of storytelling in it's own right. If they all just did animation like Spumco, then they would just be rehashing what animated cartoons have been doing for a century. Instead they can explore the newly found possibilities of using animation in juxtaposed images.

Here's a good example of what animation can be to online comics with this comic by cayetano : http://www.panam.edu/dept/art/archive/strip39.html

Leave the standard animated cartoons for the ones who want to do traditional animation. Comic artists have a whole new planet to explore!

We're all emphasizing the use of animation and sound in web comics, but I think that they're just a small part of a very big picture. There are countless possibilities besides those two in web comics. They may be a bit more subtle and not as outwardly exciting, but every bit as groundbreaking.

One is the limitless possibilities in layout! Comic books have a page count and a boring standard size, while modern comic strips are a ridiculous postage stamp size. It's the fad now for comic strip artists to praise those 'bygone days when Herriman and McCay had a full Sunday page'. Well, if your doing comics for the web, you have that size times a million (including scrolling of course- not having all of the image within your browser- which some may say has it's advantages and others it's disadvantages). And your page count is pretty much the size your web host gives you! Not to mention that you can design inventive ways to read comics: diagonal, zig zagged, what have you (see Scott McCloud's intro comic at http://www.scottmccloud.com/welcome/message.html for a great example!).

I never realized the importance of all this until I started my web comic. I can make one page of my story 16 panels long if I want and use a little single panel the next (pretty impractical to do in a comic book).

One might say ''Big deal, so you can make a comic the size of a movie poster or radically change layout from page to page.'' IT IS A BIG DEAL! These are possibilties that are either wildly impractical or just plain impossible in print!

I'm not downplaying the role of animation and sound in web comics, I'm just saying that the layout possibilties are a big, exciting factor in the way we will read and create them!

B.C. Bailey
www.huzzy.com


[This message has been edited by bcbailey (edited 04-10-99).]

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#240659 - 04/10/99 03:02 PM Re: Online Comics and Unified Language
Ben Adams Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/98
Posts: 483
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
I'm certainly not suggesting that the traditional comic artform is dead or should be dead.

I think a lot of the tradeoffs between comics and animation have to do with economics. Like I said before, it's really rough for the average joe to do what John Kricfalusi is doing with Spumco. HOWEVER, he may very well be able to make some .MIDI sound files and do some very basic .GIF animation to enhance his comics.

What I'm trying to say is that even if good comics creators become animators (or even filmmakers), I will not become any less interested in their work (provided they are good at the medium they use).

Traditional comics certainly aren't dead, but neither is animation.

-------
Ben Adams
www.mediawarpcomics.com
_________________________
Ben Adams has led an interesting life. He writes about it in his blog and in his autobiographical webcomic, MISFIT\'S JOURNEY .

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