Friday, December 11, 2009


Flash is an amazing tool.  I've seen people use flash to make amazing games, animations that would be almost impossible otherwise and even use it to convert actual video into an easy to view internet format.

So why not webcomics as well?  Flash is a can be used to do so many things, using it in a webcomic is pretty logical honestly.  It's odd then that I really don't come across too many flash based comics.  Maybe I'm just not looking hard enough.

I've only reviewed three comics that have used flash as more than a passing fancy, and only one of them can be called a full on flash comic.  The other two use it sparingly, and only in specific instances.

I will admit now that when it comes to flash in comics, I'm not that much of a fan.  It has more to do with hating flash ads than any thing else, and thus I usually disable flash in my browser (Opera), and turn it back on for specific instances.  This makes flash comics harder to read, especially long archives, as I have to keep switching flash on and off as I bounce between tabs.

Which brings me to the Teddy Bear Trauma.  Here we have that full on flash comic, every page of the strip is in flash.  As is the entire interface.  It makes navigating the strip a little difficult as the pages are typically larger than even a hefty screen resolution and you have to use the provided method for scrolling the screen, a bear in a hangman's noose.

But what hurts this comic in terms of flash is that, well, it doesn't take advantage of flash at all.  The strips could just as easily be presented as jpegs on a traditional html page rather than in flash.  There's no movement, no animation, no sound, nothing that takes advantage of the flash format besides the navigation stuff, and frankly, that's not that special.

I Am A Rocket Builder, on the other hand, uses flash far more.  The animated bits of the "Old House" segments are fun, interactive, and often have some sound at least.  This was, in fact, the first flash using comic I came across and I still find it rather innovative.  Of course, it doesn't use flash constantly, and the other segments of the comic don't use flash at all, but it uses it enough that it's effective and useful.

Which brings us to our last user of flash, City of Reality.  Like I Am A Rocket Builder, it isn't a full blown flash comic, but it actually fully integrated the flash element better than either of the others.  I can't really talk about it too much without spoiling it (go read this comic already), but the flash element is used as part of the story, rather than an add on, and while the interaction level is limited to start, later on it gets, well, weird.

With these three examples, I can say a few things about using flash:

1)  Flash for flash sake does not a good comic make.  Just using flash because you can doesn't help, it has to be important.

2)  Interactivity is fun.  Yes, giving people the option to "play" with your comic is viable and worthwhile.

3)  Make it part of the story.  You'll get more mileage out of flash if you do.


Sorry, the last one was more for me.  Anyway, flash is a wonderful tool if used right, so use it right already.  Hopefully I'll come across some other flash comics in the near future.  Until then kiddies.

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