The webcomics blog about webcomics


Long-time readers of this page may recall the name of Olaf Moriarty Solstrand, which ranks as possibly the best name to come up on this page — it’s just impossibly badass. In fact, if Solstrand and fellow Norwegian Øyvind Thorsby were to create a metal band, they would be halfway to success just on the basis of their names alone. But Solstrand has more to contribute than just a great name; you may recall his 100 Ideas in 100 Days initiative, his master’s thesis on the social dimensions of webcomics [Norwegian text], or his scripting of Disney’s Donald Duck comics. Today, he’s come back to us with data from an experiment on usability:

As part of the progress of coding a webcomic portal (not available anywhere in English yet), I decided to do some cheap usability testing on a couple of existing webcomic portals to figure out what conventions exist and how people use these websites. So I went to (excellent website, by the way) and set up a user test where I asked the participants to go to and — which I assume are the two really big amateur webcomic portals out there — and do a couple of simple tasks (the most important one, “find a comic that looks interesting”).

Solstrand’s results are narrow (three testers took him up on the challenge, but consistent: three testers that don’t read webcomics at all found Drunk Duck easy to search and navigate, and Comic Genesis difficult. Certainly, a more directed task would be helpful (for example, how accurate are the filter categories on Drunk Duck?), but more in-depth investigation isn’t necessarily Solstrand’s priority (after all, they aren’t his websites). The videos make for must-see viewing (if you’re in charge of user experience for either of those portals), or at least an interesting curiosity (if you’re anybody else). As always, we at Fleen thank Solstrand for his research.

In other news, there are a number of talented creators that are looking for reader involvement of financial natures. Let’s run ’em down, shall we?

  • By now, everybody in the world (and their dog) has undoubtedly heard about Evan Dahm‘s Kickstarter campaign to fund the second printing of Rice Boy. Not only is Rice Boy Dahm’s signature work, it’s one of the best graphic novels of the past decade; furthermore, if we help Dahm replace the rapidly-dwindling stocks, it will undoubtedly mean he’s got the financial wherewithal to keep with his comic making, just as Vattu has reached a critical point.

    Heck, while you’re at it, make sure to pick up the recently-released Order of Tales, book 3 while you’re at it (I’ll be getting mine at MoCCA or whichever show Dahm does next, as I like purchasing in person from him).

  • Also on the world+dog list: praise for Daniel Lieske‘s Wormworld Saga, which you may recall debuted on Christmas Day and instantly captivated all who read it. Lieske dropped me an email with news of his own plans:

    You reported about the Wormworld Saga in the past so you might be inclined to help spread the news about the big leap I’m currently making by collecting funds for the creation of a Wormworld Saga App. I’m really trying to tackle this thing the independent way. It’s exciting times!

    Exciting times, indeed. Let me quote from the two most important bits of Lieske’s Kickstarter pitch:

    It took me the whole year 2010 to create the first chapter of the Wormworld Saga. I’m working on the project in the evenings besides my day job as a computer games artist. I time-tracked every single minute that went into the creation of the first chapter and I know for sure that I would be able to create 4 chapters a year if I could quit my job and work full time on the graphic novel.


    The app is NOT meant to replace the free online version of the Wormworld Saga graphic novel. I firmly believe in “freeconomics” and the Wormworld Saga app is designed to be a premium content for true fans of the project.

    So go visit and decide if you can help or not; Lieske’s work is beautiful, and the prospect of four chapters a year (chapter 1 is 36 screenfulls, and each screenfull is about a page) would mean a hell of a lot of good comics get made.

  • Lastly, no Kickstarter this time, just an appeal to help clear out some existing stock so that new stuff can be made. Chris Yates makes photocomics and the finest wooden jigsaw puzzles on the planet. Today, word came that the scrollsaw that he uses to make those puzzles gave up the ghost and will have to be replaced. We’ll make this simple: no scrollsaw, no new Bafflers!

    I can speak personally to the quality of Yates’s work (having commissioned three Bafflers, and been blown away each time), so if you think that him (and his able assistant, Dan, a stellar fellow in his own right) being idle is a criminal waste of talent, browse through his store and see if you like anything there. Every purchase brings us closer to the day his mind-bending flights of fancy can be made solid once more.

Those are some very, very pretty puzzles. You may have sent him a customer.

That has to be the most awesome description (and depiction) of me ever.

I don’t know if you forgot to add a link to the videos or if you chose to leave them out (if you chose to leave them out, you can delete this comment if you want to), but here they are:

Thanks for the link Gary you rock!!

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