In my continued attempt to not be a robot, I wrote A Thing to accompany the page posted here on December 16th. Here are my pithy words, for posterity:
I’m not super happy with how this page turned out, but it’s not that important, either.
I’m still very “meh” about the page, but I got some feedback on them which I feel deserve an explanation from me.
First off, I want to say that I wrote what I did in an effort to find something to say about a page I didn’t have any real thoughts about anyway. I was probably also tired and/or high on cough medicine. Therefore, I wouldn’t read too deeply into what I said. It’s not something I obsess over. However, now’s as good a time as any to expand a little on my thoughts on the creative process.
Not every single page of a comic has to be the most amazing piece of revolutionary work ever created. Not every piece of dialogue has to be profoundly meaningful. I get that. Everything has a purpose, and sometimes that purpose is as important as it is plain. I could go on and on about art and all the many functions and purposes it serves but I won’t bore you with the details. Let’s just skip ahead to comics.
I like to write Velharthis in 24 page chapters. Sometimes it’s a little more, sometimes it’s a little less. I can’t tell you how I came about this number but I like it. It’s also not a rule for every comic I do, just a self-imposed rule for Velharthis. And the reason I made this rule for Velharthis was to challenge myself on telling a story with only the most necessary components. So far, it’s been a rewarding challenge. I’ve learned a lot, mostly from my friend, whom I shall call C. He’s a long-time webcomic reader, and has a lot of opinions on them. One day, as he was having a look at my drafts, he commented on a page I had planned that had only about 2 or 3 panels and no dialogue.
“You’re only updating twice a week and you want me to wait several days for this? A page with no dialogue and where almost nothing happens?”
I tried to argue that art would look nice, at least, but C. was right. It wasn’t enough. And then I had an epiphany. The medium is the message. Of course, the fact that webcomics are delivered in a much different way than traditional comics changes how my audience perceives every single page. How did I not think of this before!
Limited as I am to posting two pages a week, every comic page feels like it matters a bit more posting it as a webcomic than it would if it was in a book and presented all at once. Giving the reader all the story at once gives them control of the story, but posting one page at a time changes that dynamic. A lot. Maybe. But the pressure to have all the pages work together, and within themselves, is greater when the time between their consumption is so much longer and does not conform to the wishes of my readers (For comparison, see network TV versus Netflix, and how binge watching habits have influenced the delivery and consumption of TV shows). I also lack the time to devote myself to Velharthis full-time. All this means I don’t have too much time to waste on all the things I’d love to tell you about the characters. The pages have to be models of efficiency. The dialogue has to catch and hold you. The art has to be quick but solid.
It’s a lot to think about. And all this after I told you not to read too much into what I wrote.
Returning to what I actually wrote, I hope no one reads it as fishing for compliments, or trashing my own work. I don’t find either of those activities useful. But it’s OK to be critical of your own work, as long as you’re learning from it. I know exactly what I would have done differently with the page if I had the time, but I won’t because we’re already on the second rewrite of Velharthis and I would love to finish it before I die.