Zukah sits down with his “visual biographer,” the lovely Sonya Somers, to record a new podcast/Netflix commentary! Available exclusively as a reward for Patreon supporters of the $2+ level, this episode features commentary on the 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero. Much thanks to Thibault Kervarech, who produced the very cool (though he would like us to note it is still technically unfinished) Zukah theme song heard herein. This time the file was too big to host on Patreon so we’re trying something new. Hopefully it works out. Become a supporter on Patreon to listen!
Prompted by a comic’s fans comparing a review done on a single chapter to be “like opening up a book halfway and expecting the author to cater to your ineptitude,” a line that got me thinking.
In comic books it’s a cardinal rule that every single book/story/chapter should be treated as though it’s the first one the reader has ever picked up. Characters should refer to each other by name. Their interactions should convey to the audience the kind of people they are and how that relates them to one another. Conversations and narration should sufficiently catch up any newcomers to where the narrative is at within the first few pages. What’s happening? Who’s it happening to? Why?
Webcomics are a different animal than comic books, sure. A reader who gets introduced to a comic book with issue #11 of a series only has that one book in their hands. Going back to the previous ten chapters may or may not be a convenient option. Webcomics, on the other hand, have all of the previous chapters right there in the same place as the newer material — it’s all included the same package. Many people contend that starting a long-form story based webcomic at Chapter 4 instead of Chapter 1 is like opening up a novel and doing the same thing; I can see where this comparison comes from because of this.
But webcomics are not novels. Novels generally are not released one page or chapter at a time like webcomics usually are. For many readers the most recently released content is their first exposure to the work, very much like coming across single issues of comic books on a stand. Say the reader is hooked by your newest page. They want to know more about an element of the current story. They crave context! Are they going to go back a hundred pages or more to start at the onset of the entire franchise, or are they going to go back to the beginning of the most recent apparent jumping-on point (the start of the current chapter, surely)? Well, if they’re intrigued by something going on in the current story they’ll probably choose the latter.
Nobody with any sense picks up the penultimate issue of Batman: Death of the Family from 2013 and then goes back to start reading at Batman #1 from 1940 just because they’re interested in why the villain is wearing his own face as a mask. No, they’ll pick up the first comic in the Death of the Family chapter from 2012 and read from there. If the writer is worth his salt he’ll explain everything we need to know from thereon in.
These things need to be considered when making long-form story based webcomics, even ones with one main plot that runs throughout the entire series. If you use chapters then there must be a reason, even if it’s just to mark the resolution of one sub-plot and the assumption of a new one, and if you’re dividing your story like that anyway then please show consideration for new readers who have been conditioned by 75 years of comic books to see the start of a new story as a jumping-on point. If they can understand what’s going on enough to like it, they will probably go all the way back to page 1 and start chewing through the archive. But first you need to hook them. If you display your latest page on your homepage and/or promote it on sites like Reddit and Twitter and the various social media outlets trying to reach new people, think of that as the bait for any newcomers. The current chapter has to be the hook.
Story driven webcomics are not comic books and they are not novels. They are new. They are weird. They require their own considerations and their own approaches.
I would love to hear any insights people may have, whether they agree with what I’ve expressed here or not. I’ve always liked questions better than answers.
Cheesy potatoes, Zukahnauts! Our comic has been bequeathed with another place in the spotlight!
We’ve really been looking forward to this one. The Webcomic Underdogs are an incredible community filled with the most cordial and generous people working in online comics. We’ve learned a ton of stuff in the forum, from Wally Wood’s 22 Panels that Always Work to the fact that the colour red gets severely desaturated the further underwater you travel. Its weekly Spotlights are a breeding ground for great advice, thoughtful critiques and delicious fan art. Also plain old fashioned exposure, which every underdog is desperate for.
Zukahnaut is proud to headline such a fantastic community for the next week. Thank you, Underdogs! You are pretty rad.
Otty + Sonya
Zukah sits down with his “visual biographer,” the lovely Sonya Somers, to record a new podcast/Netflix commentary! Available exclusively as a reward for Patreon supporters at the $2+ level, this episode has them watching the pilot for the CB’s Arrow. Listen to a sniffly Zukah out himself as a Fake Geek Goblin and become so lost and desperate for some sense that he has to turn on subtitles! Much thanks to Thibault Kervarech, who produced the very cool (though still technically unfinished) Zukah theme heard at the beginning and end. Become a Patron to listen!
Hey Zukahnauts! Our comic got a pretty rad write-up over at TopWebComics.com! Head on over and peep it out. We were thrilled that they seemed to really get what we’re shooting for. Click here to read it!
We are pleased to announce the first episode of the ZUKAHNAUT podcast is now live on Patreon! Exclusive to the $2+ tier of pledgers, the plan is for this biweekly show is to give readers the opportunity to join Zukah and the occasional special guest as they watch a movie or television show on Netflix and provide commentary. A Zukahnaut-themed Rifftrax, as one reader put it. The first episode features 1994’s Incredible Hulk cartoon!
Special thanks to Thibault Kervarech for producing the very cool (though still technically unfinished) Zukah theme sampled at the beginning and the end of the show.
Hope you get the chance to give it a listen! We had lots of fun making it!
Look let’s be honest. We have no intentions of quitting the comic whether you pay us or not.
Having said that, one of this comic’s creators is currently on disability and the other is getting by on unreliable freelance jobs. Money is tight around the Zukahnaut office. We sure would appreciate it if you could help us keep costs down by supporting this thing we’re putting out there for you and the rest of the world to enjoy.
So if you’d like to show that you support us in what we’re doing — if you genuinely enjoy the pages we put up every week and you’d like to encourage the people behind it? If you don’t like to leave regular comments saying so because you’re afraid it’ll get repetitive and boring (it won’t) or we’re not interested in anything you might think of to say (we are)? If you’re into giving us enough incentive to get more than a single page a week out of our miserly arses?
Then hey, toss us some spare change. Vote with your wallets. Buy our love! Let us know you dig what we do and we’ll be more enthusiastic about bringing you the best damn comic we can possibly crank out! Also we can buy food.
-Otty and Sonya
This year Sonya and I entered into a community project over at the Webcomic Underdogs forum — a crossover event that sees one of our characters create a hypothetical love child with someone from another comic! We were paired with M9 Girls, which can be found here for your reading pleasure. Now with no further yappin’ I present to you the love child of Zukah and Pato!
Yeesh, poor Pato. That’s enough for anyone to re-think their “party girl” ambitions.
“I present to you the spawn of Hrothgar the Faceless and Mordecai – an avian warrior with a thirst for blood. Armed with lightning powers and a throwing axe, he is a formidable foe.
Marduk the Faceless!”
Hope you have a Happy Valentine’s Day. And remember! Even if you don’t have anyone special to celebrate it with… Well. Neither does Zukah, and he doesn’t get all pissy about it.