Comics have always been a fun and interesting way to tell stories through words and illustrations in a unique pattern of panels and dialogue on a page or, sometimes, series of pages. Small, possibly even one panel prints in newspapers turned into weekly and monthly releases of graphic novels to the awaiting public. Now, the internet has come into play in the wide world of comics. Thanks to the widespread and popularity of online media, not only can older, lost and forgotten comics be uploaded and kept online for anyone with an ethernet cable to access, but people are now designing and uploading original content specifically to be read on comic websites and programs. Media like WEBTOON, Tapas, Tappytoon, and NetComics all offer free online webcomics created for internet consumption.
As someone who reads webcomics often, I’ve found a few things that can quickly turn me off from a new read. One comic, for example, Everywhere & Nowhere by the author Merryweather on WEBTOON, tends to have extremely long post lengths. Most webcomics, being so easily accessed on the internet, have their content spaced out over a number of posts for two reasons: To not feel like an information dump, and to avoid eye strain from constantly staring at a screen. Physical graphic novels often have a page limit to avoid too much happening in one publication, especially if it’s a weekly release like most webcomics are, but because webcomics are made and designed to be posted online, they are not confined to a word or page limit–only to the limitations of the author’s imagination. While this does encourage many artists to create as much as they can in relation to their comic, which I commend wholeheartedly, it often leads to excruciatingly long posts and updates to their long term webcomics.
On the opposite side of the spectrum there are comics like After Dark by AllyBerg and A life through Selfies by Arianna Arras, both also on WEBTOON, who keep their posts to as little as one panel.
In relation to A Life Through Selfies, the one panel per post makes sense and works with the overall plot and theme of the comic. The story consists of a single panel detailing a selfie from an aspiring novel and the following caption connected to it. As you read through the series you start to learn about an increasing danger to the oblivious protagonist, Arianna. While this limited panel posting works for this particular webcomic, it’s still easy to lose track of what’s going on because of the restricted amount of information that we as readers get in between the large spaces of no posts.
After Dark, on the other hand, has a limited number of panels and actual plot and action that happens in each post. This has incited multiple instances of a single important plot point being spread out over the course of several weeks because it takes so long to get to the next action.
Webcomics encourage more creative and unique ideas that can be more helpfully elaborated on than what physical graphic novels are able to offer. However, because of the online element, many posts can either drag on a single scene week after week, or include so much information and plot that it’s difficult for readers to gauge what’s going on. I fully believe that one should never put a cap or limit on art, but when it comes to written and illustrated media there should be some awareness as to how much a reader will pay attention to, and webcomics being online plays a heavy part in removing that awareness.