A little more today on the behind-the-scenes part of webcomics, because I think I just found one of the most useful tools online for webcomics fans. Just the First Frame is a visual webcomics blog which displays the first panel of as many online comics as possible, each of which are linked to the webcomic it samples. If any one of them catches a reader’s attention it’s quick and easy to get to the rest of the comic in question.
Henry Kuo, the blog’s creator, said he wanted a way to balance the ability to discover and share online comics with the unfortunate other half of digital media, copyright infringement. Kuo explains the problem in one of the more common channels for sharing online, that of social media:
The problem is that more often than not, people share the web comic in full, so their friends get to enjoy the comic without the need to click through to the originating source. That means no ad impressions and no recognition that someone has viewed the work from the artist’s perspective. This is a form of copyright infringement, but it’s a two-edged sword. The benefit is that it’s easy to discover the work. The drawback is that the original artist doesn’t know who, how or where their work is being shared as well as the lost ad impressions on their own site.
Kuo then says why his solution meets the need:
I believe this brings the best of both worlds. By showing only the first frame, people have no choice but to click through in order to enjoy the full comic. Reading only the first frame would be like hearing a joke without the punchline, the punchline being the most important part. Also by showing the first frame, people get a highly visual and scannable page, allowing themselves to be drawn to the variety of comic styles. Moreover, by reading the first frame, they’re given a unique hook to click through for each and every one. So, highly scannable, visually consistent, and click-throughs are imperative for enjoyment (unless you just like looking at pretty pictures without context). I believe this makes this the best and easiest way to discover comics on the web today.
Now why didn’t I think of that?