In truth, I’m more of a cartoonist than a comic artist.
That is to say, I’m a lot more competent to make this:
Obviously, the skill sets have considerable overlap.
But they are different art forms. Telling a joke in 3 to 4 panels and telling a story in 20 pages are very different undertakings.
During my teens, I had no money for comic books. But I did live through the rise of webcomics. There was a pattern, where they started as a gag strip and slowly transformed into dark and serious stories.
I love this pattern, despite the fact that this tweet is lampooning it and I’m largely on board with the lampoon. It is inherently flawed. You don’t want to stray too far from your initial tone in a single story.
But it can be done well. Avatar: The Last Airbender does this well. It is a singular story that starts out as scattered, goofy episodes, but ends in an epic war.
Thing is, Avatar has a drop of the epic in the first episodes, and a drop of goofy in the last. It plays with two tones, and it rigorously fights to ensure that while different tones predominate at different times, both tones are always present.
Anyway, now and again I wonder whether I ought not work on Re-Tail, my engineered-for success comic. Maybe feed my family with that.
But right now I’m wondering whether I should do the classic webcomic thing, tempered with experience/hindsight. What if I built a four-panel newspaper style gag-a-day comic that also told a larger story, and just made sure, like Avatar, to keep both elements of the tone throughout?
Four panels on a page. The top two or bottom two can be combined for a super wide, or all four for a splash. Each page a properly structured joke. The book as a whole a complete story.
I want to try and make something like this. I’m adding it to the List. I love fractal storytelling, where you tell a little story, and it works by itself, but it’s also part of a bigger story, which may be part of a bigger story…