Today, I rant.
I normally tend to look for the positive in a comic rather than the negative. Given that you don’t (usually) pay for webcomics, pointing out bad ones to ‘steer people away’ doesn’t strike me as quite as effective a service as it is for critics in other fields. I’d rather, say, point people towards the good stuff, right off the bat.
But the last few days have been a major pain, what with ice, ice, more ice, and the occasional spider.
So you get a rant.
When I do tend to focus on the weaknesses of a strip, I tend to focuses on strips that have promise despite those weaknesses. Like I said – singling out an irredeemably horribly strip is pointless. A strip that has potential, if it can overcome one tiny hurdle or another.
In this case, Trouble Konflik might have potential, or it might not. For the last six months that the strip has been updating, I have been entirely unable to discern what is happening or whether it is interesting or not. That in and of itself should be a sign something is wrong.
Now, let me pause for a moment, and read through the archives…
There is currently just over one chapter updated. And, reading it in one fell swoop… it’s actually not that bad. The art is really cool, with vibrant and engaging character designs. The plot… well, hard to say, as the story is exceptionally slow-moving.
Which is the problem. Or part of the problem, at least. A story doesn’t have to move fast to be good – but Trouble Konflik is relatively unique, in that each update consists of no more than one. single. panel.
There are good single-panel strips out there, sure – but they are gag strips. A new joke every update. They don’t have to deal with the struggle to tell a story, because you can’t tell a story with one context-less frame every week. It is completely incapable of conveying the necessary information to actually understand – let alone enjoy – the story being told.
Until I read through the archives today, my impression of Trouble Konflik was essentially a memory of watching a slideshow of disjointed images. Indeed, there were times when I wasn’t sure if it was updating with a story, or just… sketches, filler, meaningless images. I could not tell.
That, I say, tells me there is a problem at hand.
Reading the archives – having the entire story on a single page – is a different situation entirely.
And, sure – anyone reading the strip can skim back through the archive with every update, to refresh themselves on what is going on. And once they’ve done so enough, it will probably start to fall more into place with each strip – though some will still feel empty on their own.
When a strip relies both on what comes before for the entirety of its context, and what comes after, and is presented independent of either of those, it isn’t a strip at all. It is nothing.
That’s the tragedy of Trouble Konflik. Looking back through the archives, I can see a promising tale. But I read it for half a year without getting anything out of it. A newcomer, glancing at the latest strip, will be completely lost. Sure, the archives are there, but isn’t the purpose of a strip that updates on the web to be about the updates, not the archives?
The strip is just now starting to hit its stride – from what I understand, just starting to see newly crafted pages (panels) twice a week. Which is great – if anyone is still reading. If anyone will continue to remain reading.
The solution is a simple one – don’t update one page at a time. Cut the updates from twice a week to twice a month, and update four panels in one fell swoop. Update, basically, with one full page at a time – or hey, only update three or four times a year, but give a full chapter every shot. It might seem like less output – but it would be output that a person could actually read.
The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Alone, they are nothing more than pretty pictures. Together, they tell a story. Which is the goal of the comic? That’s the decision that has to be made.