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While browsing Tor.com yesterday, I came across a graphic novel they had put up in their stories section. It just finished its run, so all 21 chapters are available as of yesterday.

Red Light Properties

Concept: spirit medium and exorcist expels ghosts from haunted resale properties.

Why it’s cool: I’m not a fan of the story, the characters, or the art. Just not my cup of tea. However, what Red Light Properties does well is presentation. They nail it. The navigation of the book reveals dialog bubble by dialog bubble, panel by panel rather than page by page. It’s a very original way of presenting a graphic novel, and a method I wish more web comics used.

Why it works: The story is based on suspense and revelation, so the use of bubble-by-bubble reveals merges the natural flow of conversation with the inability to skip ahead and ruin a big surprise. It also solves the problem many comics face of inconsistent page flow. It’s completely unambiguous what order speech is taking place in.

It also works because it presents the art, unobstructed by speech/thought/narration bubbles, then the page fills up with words. So much of a comic’s art is lost to word space, and this solves that problem nicely.

It won’t work for every web comic. Classic three/four panel comedies have a format that works for them already, and most writers are meta enough to use the flow as part of a joke. This is definitely more for classic graphic novel presentation.

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