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Short phrases convey long meanings, sometimes.

I love Boing Boing. Their links are interesting and fun and exciting and funny. And Mark Frauenfelder is one of my favorites -- the stuff he's interested in tends to be the stuff I'm interested in. (Which isn't to say I'm not interested in Cory Doctrow or Xeni Jardin. The former's one of my favorite writers -- I have an essay on Wuffie as it applies to Slashdot's moderation system I'd like to get around to writing one day -- and the second is brilliant and gorgeous. I like brilliant women. Gorgeous is just an addon.) Frauenfelder just has a perspective that seems right to me.

Well, he managed in a throwaway comment to encapsulate the significant problem I have with Flash in webcomics in one throwaway comment in A link to a "Famous cartoonists now and then" site:

Here's a fun "now and then" gallery of famous cartoonist's work as adults and when they were kids. The fun is only slightly diminished by the use of a Flash interface.

I read that and thought exactly!!!!! He gets it!

Some people do innovative and exciting things with Flash. Patrick Farley's Apocamon leaps to mind. But most Flash interfaces, either in exhibits or comics themselves, are clumsy and simply take the simple task of navigating from one bit to the next and make it needlessly more difficult. It's to the point that when i see the "Flash Loading" bar appear on a comic, I'm instantly predisposed against it. And that's not fair to the people who really are doing innovative Flash work.

So please please please. If you think it would be neat and cool to do your comic in Flash because then you can have a "click next" arrow and a few cheap stock sound effects on your comic strip... do us all a favor. Export the strips to pngs, throw them onto a web page, and put a simple, cheap HTML "next" link at the bottom.

For me. Eric. Your friend.

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Comments

Mmmmm. Xeeeeeni.

Also: please, people, also engage in such pngage and usability-encouragement for Wednesday, who is also your friend.

Not that I'm crying at the moment about Flash. Oh no.

"Hear, hear!" says the guy whose massive webpage system is still compatible with Netscape 3.1 (and Lynx, not that the image archives "work" with Lynx in a direct manner). :)

Not everyone who does their comic in Flash does so simply because they think it would be neat or cool. I'm not a comic person, or at least I wasn't until I started my comic. I chose Flash because I come from a web design background, and I knew that Flash would allow me to save on bandwidth without compromising image quality.

And not all Flash interfaces are needlessly complex and clumsy. The interface for my website is no more intrusive than any other webcomic out there.

Sorry, but Flash-bashing always gets me riled up.

Ornery -- what's your site, if I can ask?

For me, for an actual comic, either there really needs to be an innovative/artistic reason for the Flash, or the Flash needs to be way in the background, or it's going to bother me. Too busy an interface, too much superfluous motion, too little thought beyond "hey, cool" makes Flash just annoying.

(Not to mention it's something I can't thumbnail for Websnark, which always bugs me a little.)

So, I understand your thoughts and I'm willing to accept your reasoning (though without seeing your site, I can't render an opinion), but at this stage of the game I need to be won by a Flash comic. I'm just not willing to benefit of the doubt at this point.

All my opinion, of course, but I can only go by the impressions I've received from running into the Flash comics I've seen.

I didn't give the link for my comic because I didn't want to plug myself on your turf, but it's at http://www.orneryboy.com if you're interested.

I will agree with you that there are a lot of terrible Flash websites out there, and that there are disadvantages to using Flash that are only compounded when it's used improperly. It's unfortunate, because it does colour peoples' opinions of Flash websites, and I'll admit that even I get tired of Flash websites, particularly when I see a "loading intro" message.

When I designed my site, I avoided superfluous animation and sound in order to create something functional that would complement the style of my comic without detracting from it. I'd like to think that I at least got the website part right.

As for the comic part, at the very least I'm having fun exploring the medium. :)

Oh, I know this site. Yeah -- no complaints on your choices, OB. It's clean and fresh, and the flash doesn't get in the way.

It's also a good comic. It's been a while since I've looked at it -- long before Websnark. How long have you been doing it?

Wow, thank you! I've been a fan of this site for a while now and have enjoyed your articles, so your compliments mean a lot.

I've been doing my comic since July 2002, though I had planned and drawn my first strips a couple of months prior to that. The two main characters had existed for a few years, but I never created them with the intent to make comics about them. That just sort of happened on its own I guess...

I read Orneryboy, too! Yaay! :P Yeah, it's flash interfaces done right. I think it's because it's just like regular HTML except you can't save images or highlight things and that there's a little "loathing" screen when the comics load.

Anyhow.

I also read Orneryboy, and it does do one thing I don't like. I have a little webpage for my own use, on which I have links to my own trawls; both Orneryboy and Websnark are on it. It lives in a frame on the left. Clicking the links brings up the linked pages on the right. This works nicely except for Orneryboy, which appears and unloads my frame, taking over the browser. In Firefox, the back button brings me back to my own page, but in IE it doesn't.

Here's the link if you want to see what I mean:

http://monkeylair.org/dave/comics.html

Yeah, that's not a Flash thing, that's a piece of Javascript code that I used to break out of other peoples' framesets. In the past I had problems with people linking to my website in a manner that implied that my site was somehow affiliated with theirs, and I just don't like that sort of thing.

Well, maybe, it's time to stop? I mean, just because some other website acts like a jerk, does that mean yours has to?

Likely it would be easy enough to get around by using a server script on my side to yank your shockwave off your page and show it by itself, but I don't do that by policy; I just put up with the minor annoyance. If you don't change the page, I will continue to put up with it. I just wish I didn't have to, not least because I like your comic a lot and would prefer not to associate it with being annoyed.

I do precisely what David does, and GPF is the one comic that breaks it -- so I just spawn it in its own tab every day, but yeah, it's an irritant. (And if I end up dropping GPF, it'll be mosty because of storyline, but that'll be a contributing factor.) (I haven't looked at Orneryboy yet -- this is the first I've heard of it. Curse you, Eric, for bringing so many new comics to my attention! [I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course.])

Actually, Ornery, your site design is the reason I rarely read your comic. I personally read comics by keeping a bookmark to the most recently read strip in my bookmarks folder - since I don't read most daily, it's handy to just go to the most-recent. When reading yours I can't just bookmark it once I'm at the most recent comic - I have to copy and paste the fixed URL in, then bookmark that (although it's now easier than it used to be, at least.)

The last time I tried to read it you'd changed your URL layout (breaking my bookmark) and I couldn't figure out how to skip back a large number of comics (I don't think the fixed URL was available at that time for some reason), so I just didn't bother paging through one comic at a time to get back to my most-recently-read strip. Now I'm even more behind, which just makes it more discouraging to continue - I've probably got dozens of strips to go through now.

On the other hand, I just looked at the site and found a way to do it (not sure if it didn't exist before or if I just missed it), so I'll probably go through it when I get home.

In any case, your flash layout is a constant minor irritation to me, and I only put up with it because I really like the strip :P

If the vector graphics is all you're after, you should of course use SVG instead.</ExCathedra>

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