I have been spending more time of late exploring the world of webcomics. For me it has been like discovering manga after years mostly reading what you would normally find in the average comic shop. Much like manga, the webcomics field is vast. I’m a very picky reader as I do not like to waste my time on things that do not meet my personal standards. So I was lucky to find First Second Books had recently launched their own webcomics line called To be Continued. For someone like me who is new to webcomics and is looking for something outside the superhero genre this line is perfect.
So for there are three webcomics in the line. They are Sailer Twain, Zahra’s Paradise,and Tune. Sailer Tawin is about a steamboat captain working on the Hudson river in the later 1800’s, who is dealing with something of a mystery on the river. Zahra’s Paradise is the heaviest of the three as it fallows a fictionalized characters in the very real wake of the 2009 elections in Iran. A young protester named Mehdi disappears during a protest and his mother and brother set out to find him. Tune is the most light hearted of the three as it is a humorous look at a college drop out who is trying to find his way in life.
All three have been very good so far, especially the artwork as art quality is a pet peeve of mine when it comes to finding webcomics I enjoy. Essentially these are graphic novels being serialized before a print edition is released. While it’s still too early to say how well this model will do it is the digital model I find to be the smartest and most promising for an alternative press company like First Second. One of the many beauties of this model is that it is free to fully sample the product. It costs nothing more then the reader’s time. This is great for me personally as I’ve often thought of picking up a few of First Second’s books in the past but it was always that something extra that I could never get around to picking up despite many of the books in their catalog looking interesting. With free webcomics updated regularly there is no reason for me or anyone else not to read these.
One interesting note about First Second’s webcomics is that they are being produced with e-readers in mind. All three are in black and white so they can be read on anything from a Kindle to a iPad. The fact that they are free should give them a edge over other comics on e-readers. While I don’t believe the iPad will save comics, I do feel confident that it and other readers will be ideal for things like First Second’s webomics. Of course that still leaves the question of how to profit from this. For now they should do all right with the free webomics and then make money off the print books. I expect Zahra’s Paradise will do quite well once it is collected in print, as it something notable along the lines of Persepolis. The other two are more of a question mark. I do hope they do well or that First Second at least finds something like the ad revenue system that many webcomics use that helps covers cost. My hope is more companies fallow this model.
In closing what I like best is that you do not have to take my word for this just head over to First Second’s website and read them yourself. It will not cost you a thing and at this stage the best way to support them is to just click on them and read them. If you like any of them be sure to tell a friend. That is so much easier and less frustrating than weighing the value of a $3.99 comic.