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I see a lot of long form comics that use chapter covers. Is it really necessary for a webcomic that's being updated on a weekly basis to include those?
- Avian Reader
Short answer: Absolutely not.
Long answer: But they sure can be FUN! I include them because they allow me to do something different. (My comic is in black and white, my covers are in color, so they give me the opportunity to dust off my coloring skills- what of them I have- from time to time) The great thing about publishing your own comic is that YOU make the rules. Don't want to do chapter covers? Don't do them! But if you do, then have fun with them and make them a little different from your normal fare.
It may not be strictly necessary to use chapter covers, and I certainly wouldn't use an entire week's update for one, but the thing to consider is your archives. If you're planning to set up previous/next chapter options on your site, covers are a nice way to add a little air of introduction. Additionally, covers are a great way to separate significant passages of time, distance or action in your stories. Particularly in comics. A little box in the corner of the first panel that says, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch...", may serve the same purpose, but visually, doesn't do anything to make the reader "feel" the story.
Presentation is nine tenths of the law. It's not a question of necessity so much as it is a question of enhancement. Anything you can do to make your stuff more interesting and looking professional is worth the time and effort.
Keep it classy,
That's the beauty of webcomics -- there are no rules except the ones you choose! What works best for your story? A cover can act as a good break between chapters and establish a mood -- but that could also be done with just a caption (later - meanwhile - elsewhere) or with a change of color palette. How are you writing your story? Does it have clear, defined arcs? Is it episodic, or continuous? Do you need the firm break that a cover provides, or would your story be served better without the interruption? Don't worry about matching the decisions of other long-form comics -- there is no convention online outside the ones you define.
Not at all. Webcomics are still a burgeoning format with no set style. As the creator, you dictate what experience your readers will have. I worked on a webcomic called The Undergrounds for two years and we never, ever had chapter covers. However, if you feel a sort of division will add to the structure of your narrative, go for it. Just because it isn't popular or hasn't been done, doesn't make it "wrong", especially with webcomics.