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Story compass won't stop spinning
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What makes a great webcomic? Part I
Honestly, I think the 'web' in 'webcomic' is just incidental. They're the same as regular comics, but suddenly without the trappings of a zine, comic book, or graphic novel that you might find in a brick-and-mortar establishment. Or a crate on the sidewalk, as the case may sometimes be.
But a great comic? Who knows? Like what makes a great novel or a great film, the answer is certainly different for everybody, but here are my thoughts (peppered with some of my favorites) on what are likely some commonalities between our tastes:
It took a long time for me to learn this lesson (though I certainly still have a bit to go here), but characters can't exist in a vaccuum. Batman would just be a grown orphan in tights without Gotham, and Rocky Rickaby of Lackadaisy couldn't exist without Tracy Butler's fantastic rendering of St. Louis, Missouri. When an artist puts time and effort into developing the world their characters live in, the story and characters become magnitudes richer.
I almost wrote something along the lines of plot/narrative drive here, but I had to do a double take. Peanuts is a major cornerstone of the sequential art medium, but I can't say I recall Charlie Brown going on any epic adventures or living a tale of passionate romance; indeed, in fifty years we never even get to see the long-standing object of his desire. But timing is essential in both comedy and drama, certainly so when a creator attempts to combine the two. Part of what makes Chris Baldwin's Spacetrawler so captivating is his deft use of suspense/payoff in both his humor and advancement of the plot.
More next week!