People are prone to make snap judgements in regards to comics. This is even more true on the internet, where they say you have something like 3 seconds to engage someone before they hit the back button. If the art doesn’t jump out at them in a positive way then they probably won’t read your comic.
The exception to that seems to be really short comic strips, especially with a built in niche interest fan base (I’m looking at you gaming). Those comics often have bad art, which somehow adds to their appeal amongst their (usually extremely nerdy) fans.
Comics, by in large, are a highly visual medium. It is a lot easier for a well drawn but poorly written comic to succeed then the other way around. There are a lot of comics that get by on flash and style but have very little substance. Writing is often overlooked.
Considering the tradition of older comics that featured terrible story lines and dialogue by hacks like Stan Lee the genre really only has itself to blame. I mean these guys were creating the dialogue after the story has been drawn based off of the most broad outlines imaginable. Of course a lot of it was crap.
But since those “Golden” and “Silver” eras polluted the public’s perception of comics as a storytelling device we’ve had the rise of the graphic novel and some real emphasis on writing.
Like I said earlier, a lot of it is still really bad, but now you at least have some really good options to read stories that can only be told in comics.
Black Snow is an especially tough sell. Unlike most successful comics on the web, it is a larger story and each page cannot really be appreciated on it’s own. Basically it’s a print book that we’ve decided to share online in real time as it’s made.
So if it’s hard to get someone to read your comic strip, it’s infinitely more difficult to get a reader to invest in a long running story that they need to read from the beginning and return to each week to continue.
Yes, Black Snow is in a pretty rare and unenviable position as a webcomic. But the majority of people are ready to treat it in the standard way. Which is to say they glance at the art on the first few pages without really reading it and decide they don’t like it.
What I’d like to task you with is to try actually sitting down and reading it. Give it a real chance and pay attention to the dialogue and plot. I think you may be surprised by the quality.
Being the artist and the website guy it’s easy for my presence to overwhelm the fans causing them to forget about the contributions of our writer Alex Siquig. Hell, it’s easy for me to forget at times. But if you actually sit down and read this comic as you might a normal book I think you’ll find that he has a very unique style and brings a real caliber that you won’t find in most comics.
In my humble and totally unbiased opinion our story, plot and pacing is all really good. There’s subtlety and nuance there for those who want it, while things move along fairly briskly and always manage to entertain.
But those are not the areas where he really shines. His main focus has always been the dialogue, and that’s where he is best. Each character has their own voice, and it is a way of speaking particular to them that is unlike what you’ll find in other comics.
Let me give you a few pages of example. And I want you to really read them, dammit!
So those 6 pages comprise 2 scenes taken from the middle of the story. The first scene is a pretty serious one that contains a lot of world building and exposition. Additionally it moves along a rather major subplot involving all these secondary police characters. It also introduces us to one of my favorite characters, Detective Redmond.
That scene could have been boring as hell. It could have been overly melodramatic or cliche. It could have been a lot of things, really. But Alex is able to do everything the scene needed to accomplish while making it entertaining and highlighting the incomparable speaking style of this verbose new character.
This is followed immediately by scene full of awkward comedy with Eric and Angel’s date. It’s really funny, and pretty sad. Made even more so by the fact we’ve gotten to know Eric, what a good guy he is, how much he likes this girl and how relatable this situation is.
The character of Eric is the closest one to what Alex is really like, so I think he has a certain affinity for him. This is a good scene for Angel as well. It allows us to know a little more about her personality and just how incompatible she actually is for Eric.
Hell, even the waiter shines and oozes personality. And this is the only time we’ll ever see him. Not to mention the pace and comedic “timing” of it all. It’s those kinds of attention to detail that I think sets our writing apart from a lot of the other stuff out there.
So please go back and read this comic from the beginning and give it a real chance. I think you’ll be glad you did.