Understanding Webcomics: Ava’s Demon

For this class we were to create a web-comic and fully produce it on our class website. This task was complicated and I learned a lot about how difficult being creative is. Our comic was The Ghost and The Girl and I did almost all of the coloring of the comic. We split our duties, which was nice because I am completely sure that I would not have been able to handle drawing, coloring, formatting, and uploading everything to the website. However that is exactly what many artists due on a daily or weekly basis to keep and gain an audience.

The first webcomic that I encountered, that I was able to recognize as a web-comic, is called Ava’s Demon a few years ago. I stumbled upon it from someone that I follow on Tumblr and the art style is what captivated me first. The author, Michelle Czajkowsk, has a gorgeous art style that, to me, resembles a digital watercolor with fine lines over top.

The first page of the Webcomic Ava’s Demon

The layout of the website is also aesthetically pleasing because the background resembles a bound journal. The background colors also work well with the color scheme that the author sticks with. She also uses contrasting colors on characters, items, and background that are significant to the story.

One of the ways that this comic uses digital technology to differentiate it from paper comics is that the pages do not necessarily have a gutter or panels. They are almost all individual pages that are to be read by clicking the page to go on to the next one. We then get effects such as the one on page 246 to page 247, such as the effect below.

Page 245
Page 246 http://www.avasdemon.com/pages.php#0246

Whereas when we read the comics that have panels and gutter, our eyes read the other panels to get an idea of what is going to happen. Having the individual pages that are read one at a time create a motion effect.

Another way that this webcomic uses digital technology to convey the narrative in a more comprehensive way is by having each chapter end with an animated video, plus music the author selected to go along with it. The main narrative is not necessarily told by this video but the story is supplemented by the videos. Since the story is being told via the comic the videos are only there to add a bit of fun to the narrative. With the comic’s art being so fluid and each page being able to be read as though it is a motion picture, the video reminds us that we are reading a comic.

The actual narrative of Ava’s Demon has clear themes of anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Although comics have a tendency to relay larger themes of hardship, they still have to abide by a certain kind of rules to be published and successful. In an article about webcomics by the UF Visual Rhetoric Research Group: Sean Fenty, Trena Houp and Laurie Taylor, they state “The web allows webcomic creators to write comics with content which is outside of the acceptable bounds for typical mass-released comics (Fenty, et al).”

Instead, many webcomics include themes and deal with issues that mainstream comics might not be able to portray, in a way that may not sell paper comics. However, we can share it via the Internet. I found this comic and fell in love with this story because I found it on Tumblr. If this story was only found on paper, in a comic book store, I may not have found it.

By creating our own webcomics, we were able to gain an appreciation of the grueling but rewarding process. We also learned that even the best comics still have to start from scratch, and create a fan base from nothing. The art style of our comic changed as I was trying to figure out how to use photoshop, and the art does not resemble anything similar to Michelle’s beautiful art. She was able to convey the struggle that Ava has with her demon with art and characters that are dynamic and complex. This class gave me a glimpse into what makes webcomics so different from paper comics. With the assistance of the digital component of the comic, we gather more information and understand an intricate art more thoroughly.

Citation: Fenty, Sean, Trena Houp and Laurie Taylor. “Webcomics: The Influence and Continuation of the Comix Revolution.” . ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. 1.2 (2004). Dept of English, University of Florida. 9 Dec 2016

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