I’ve talked before about trying to help the audience keep their footing in a long-running narrative. This may then be a redundant blog, and so I indulge in a redundant title. Anyhow, TV shows these days will often spend a good 30 seconds or more doing a “Previously…” segment, sometimes extending that into several minutes for a Season Finale or Season Opener. By doing that they’re just continuing a tradition pioneered by radio and print serials before them, including the serial adventure and drama comics of newspapers past of which Zombie Ranch is a spiritual (if not literal) descendant. Sure, there are fans out there whose encyclopedic knowledge of their particular entertainment obsession at times can put even the creator(s) to shame, but for most of the audience these little reminders of what’s been happening are greatly appreciated as a means to remind them of what’s about to happen.
Webcomics, however, don’t tend to do this, and we’re one of them. I’ve discussed before that I figure this is a consequence of easily accessible archives, and in our case coupling that with a “comic blog” under the weekly offering that we often use with links to relevant past events, because when you’ve got over 300 pages in your archive like we do now (whew) even I sometimes have to search a bit. Is it enough? I think it has to be, because dedicating the storytelling real estate every week or even every Episode to a “Previously” segment, despite tradition, seems like the worse option. I’ll do so at the start of one of our print comics (and have!), but not here online.
Still, what that means is I can play a bit — like the beginning of this current episode (#14), where I’m using the technique not so much for reminders as for dramatic effect — theoretically not really wasting the storytelling space. True, it serves the reminder purpose as well, but I figured we’d keep things interesting by mixing it up a bit visually, and of course the end part is a reveal we hadn’t shown before. Cool? Well, time and posterity will be the ultimate judges, but for the moment, I’m liking our little deviation into the past before we get on with the present and future.