Is This Post About Cliffhangers?? FIND OUT!on February 16, 2011 at 7:55 pm
So this post isn’t explicitly about cliffhangers, but more so about the idea of writing for a serial format as opposed to writing a full graphic novel. So as I’ve talked about before, I only fairly recently came to the decision to present Dead Meat in an online, page-to-page format, and before coming to that decision I had already written the first issue a few times, and had actually already completed most of the second issue. The issues were written as the first two issues of a larger story, and were approached in the way most comics are, with an ending that hopefully strikes enough of a chord to bring the reader back for the next one.
This is a perfect example, from Kingdom Come #1 written by Mark Waid, art by Alex Ross. Kingdome Come sets up a world in which superheroes have gone nuts, and Superman has vanished for years, allowing the world to sort of drift into chaos. The body of the first issue is spent setting up this world, and then the last sequence of pages comes:
This return of the Man of Steel is fantastic, and completely hits the right chord to draw the reader back for issue 2. Endings like this are common place in comics, and allow you to tell your story for 22 pages, and then deliver a punchline to make sure your readers leave wide-eyed and wanting more–but what happens when you’re readers have to wait a week between pages let alone entire issues? You have to really consider the content you’re putting up for your audience to view, because even though it’s only a page, that page has to sustain them for a week, and be interesting enough to warrant a return to see what happens next. With that in mind, however I’m not saying every page has to end like this:
As I said, I wrote issues 1 and 2 before I decided on format, so when I got to issue three, I re-evaluated my approach, and started to be more conscious about telling a story on each page. My biggest regret about the way Issue 1 has played out so far is that there are a couple pages that are half of a conversation about something, and while this in and of itself isn’t bad the place it ends on the page may not be totally satisfying to a reader.
At the same time, being conscious of this sort of “ultra-serialization” of your comic can actually really let you play with pacing and hanging on things for effect. For instance, there’s a page in issue three that is 4 panels depicting a single, quick event that occurs to a main character, and devoting an entire page to it was done to make sure that it lingered.
In the end, it’s a balancing act you have to be aware of, making sure you can maximize the content of a page in and of itself, but not to the extent that you sacrifice the larger storytelling of that page as it exists inside the entire issue. This is just another thing that I’ve been learning along the way as I do this–and there are mistakes I’m going to make along the way that I won’t shy from talking about here, as the entire point of this is to show people the process, and hope that they can learn from it should they decide to do it themselves! WILL I be successful? WILL I crash and burn? IS there anyone out there who gives a crap?
STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT!
Until Next Time,
Eat Dead Meat!
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