My name is Bill Williams and I am the Unknown Soldier of the Clockwork Storybook.
Lately I've been working on new projects and pitches which leads me to thinking about compression which is a fancy way to talk about how long it takes to tell a story. As I have been watching TV on DVD, I can't help but break down the stories as I watch the episodes. The older shows tended to have one mystery to solve, one patient to save. As the medium has evolved, the pace of the plots has picked up. In most modern TV, there are multiple patients to save and a dozen clues to run down.
At the same time, Comics, being the counter-punchers they are, are decompressing stories and seemingly stretching simple plots out so long as to make the middle parts incomprehensible all for the sake of the graphic novel format. That approach makes a large demand of attention from the readers as the dedicated fans have to keep current on multiple ongoing stories from month to month. The best exception to that rule that I can think of was the recently concluded All Star Superman which had a satisfying chunk of story per issue, but worked to tell a bigger story when read together.
In the SideChicks webcomic, some of the scenes told fairly quickly in the scripting phase that take two comic pages to unspool, seemingly take forever to unfold in the web format. A scene where someone is interviewed seems to take way too long to get to the point. But in print (or in e-print) the scenes zip on along.
I wrote a story for another project that is told in 17 panels that are stretched across 4 comic-sized pages. It is the teaser for an ongoing series and I like it because its quick. It gets in and gets the hell out. It should work on the web and on the printed page.
SO, I want to throw out a question to Bill, (no, not me, the other one)... How complicated is it to keep the FABLES comic book exciting from month to month and still have it read well in the trade paperback format?
(Oh, and right now, I'm reading Peace Kills by P.J. O'Rourke and I fear it is having a terrible influence on my thought process.)