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Phoenix Feathers is updated on Tuesday and Friday

I did some molecular biology yesterday. I got the protocol from a paper, so no-one was around to tell me what to do and how many microlitres of this to put into that. And it worked, which was really rather nice  ^.^

I've been thinking a lot about the next webcomic we want to do. Mainly, I've been thinking about the format. I knew when we started Phoenix Feathers that it wouldn't get printed, which means I've been able to play with it more than normal - the length of each comic is not fixed, for example. This has been very useful, especially when I was first getting used to the comic format itself. But now it seems a little silly to have done two and a half years' work and not be able to print it. So I'd quite like the next one to be printable.

I've already decided that I'm going to ink the next one. I enjoy inking and I need practice, it looks better than pencil and if the comic is going to be printed, it's a necessity. Piro (of Megatokyo) prints pencil, but I doubt very much it'd work for me. This means a change in the procedure, because Phoenix Feathers is drawn one panel to a page (nobody in Sweatdrop works that way, and I haven't either with Looking for the Sun or Concerning Research). I can't afford to ink one panel per page, because the paper is heavyweight and expensive. This means I'm probably going to be laying it out one page per page, as it were. This isn't really a problem, although I will regret the loss of detail. Out of interest, is the difference noticeable between Phoenix Feathers and Looking for the Sun? They're both resized to 600 pixels wide for the 'net - is it obvious that Phoenix Feathers is originally drawn much, much larger than Looking for the Sun? Is the layout better or worse when one page is drawn whole?

Drawing in one page limits the length of the comic as well as the width. This might cause problems, because sometimes I like to use a long comic. When I was thinking over it, though, I decided I could just let it run on to another page - as long as the bottom of the right boxes fit to the bottom of the page, it doesn't matter if it runs on; it can just be broken over two pages when printed. But that led onto the problem I'm currently thinking over.

Webcomics don't work the way printed comics do. Printed comics can afford space and time to lay out plot. Webcomics have to be broken into manageable chunks, each of which is entertaining in its own right. Printed comics normally have long chunks of continuous time over several pages. Webcomics, if they do this, tend to drag. I do like Megatokyo, but in my opinion the way Piro is doing it means that reading it regularly makes it feel like it's very slow. In printed form, it will work, but even though each strip is fairly self-contained, because only a very small period of time passes with each strip, it feels very sluggish (but Freefall works - again, I don't know why. Maybe because of the many points of view. It does feel slow at times). I like to think that I've avoided that by normally not having strips that follow each other continuously (although this one does have an immediate followup :). Someone asked why I did it, and it's because I realised early on that if I tried to portray everything that happened in a continuous comic, it'd take ages to get anywhere. So instead I try to pull out the interesting/funny/plot stuff that's happening and let the rest of normal (!) university life pass on unheeded. I don't actually know how successful this is  ^.^;;

So is it possible to make a webcomic that will work in printed form? Ozy and Millie does, but those strips are (admittedly connected) one-offs, much like Calvin and Hobbes; they're a somewhat different case. The first volume of Megatokyo had some of the 'two-up, two-down' strips that they started with, and to fill up space, Piro wrote a little wibble below each one. Kazuhiko thought, and I agreed, that it worked better like that because each strip was separated from the next, which is normal for a webcomic. The other extreme is one like Eversummer Eve, which is basically a manga, one page of which is released each week. I don't want to do something like that (although it is very good); I want something that works on a Tuesday-Friday basis but will also be good to read continuously. I don't think Phoenix Feathers reads too badly if you read it all at once, but the strips are separated; they're not continuous pages. Is that possible to do in printed form, and if so, how? Does anyone have any preferences/thoughts/opinions regarding any of the above ramblings?

- Sun Kitten, 2nd July '04

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