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5th Feb 2019, 9:26 PM #21
Fluffythespider
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kevintheradioguy:So, in your own opinion, why is this page present in nearly every webcomic, and why it is needed?


Like everyone's been saying, it's a useful thing to have. It's not needed per se, you don't have to have one. If you've got no reoccurring characters, or there's a story reason you don't want your audience to easily be able to look up characters, then you don't have to have one. You also don't have to have bios on it, if that's your main concern, it can literally just be their picture and name. I've done that.

I think it's good to question why elements exist in different types of media, and if they still make sense to perpetuate. But just because it's something you personally don't like doesn't mean the people who do it must be narcissistic or bad. They've got different tastes, that's all.


HeSerpenty:This thread reminds me... I should finish/update mine! XDD


Same.
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5th Feb 2019, 9:34 PM #22
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It's also really useful for people coming back to a comic, or for slow-updating comics.

Sometimes, a character shows back up after a few chapters. If you're reading the comic straight through, the pacing is fine, you'll still remember... but if the comic updates every other week, that could have been two years since the character last appeared. A reader who was just reading the updates, and hadn't gone back and re-read the archives in a while, might very well have forgotten them, and need to at least jog their memory a bit.
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5th Feb 2019, 10:24 PM #23
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Any long running dramatic, plot oriented comic will, in my opinion, warrant a cast page. This is to remind readers of each of the characters' roles in the story that's being told. I don't think this will cause spoilers , especially if it's the plot that drives the characters, instead of the other way around. Gag oriented comics don't really need one since we get a good idea of who the characters are through the gags and they are there to deliver the gags.

Polaris has a very unusual character bio page. It probably has much more than most character bio pages do have. It's something that might appear within the pages of a comic itself at the beginning of a volume, for instance. But I don't think I have spoilers. It's mostly theory behind the character's philosophies in life.
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5th Feb 2019, 11:29 PM #24
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Main uses for me

-Wait, I haven't seen this guy in three chapters. Who's he again?
-Looking up face refs for fanart
-Looking up last name to find other people's fanart
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6th Feb 2019, 2:47 AM #25
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nothing turns me off more than the lack of an about page and cast list. it's not required but i wanna basic sense of your comic and if you can't provide that, not gonna read it. just me opinion at least. bonus points if you have a wiki for world building!



if only i knew how to make cast pages....
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6th Feb 2019, 6:49 AM #26
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I love cast pages. Even with just a small blurb, I'm usually glad to see it and sometimes, it intrigues me to check something out because I got a sneak peek at a character's design that the intro wouldn't provide. Maybe I'm willing to wade through to see that neat character.

I find they're handy when you're running a long running comic or one with a ton of characters. Sometimes things can get confusing without a cheat sheet.

Not giving names, but there's a weekly comic I still follow that's offsite. The art is bright and interesting but the story jumps around a bit and there's around two dozen characters, plus the revolving main team. Outside of maybe three of them, I couldn't remember a single character's name and barely what their role in the story was. Then it was made extremely difficult when relatively no-name characters from the very beginning of the story appeared after being forgotten about for two years real time and I couldn't figure out what was going on. Which was a problem, because one of those characters was the mostly behind-the-scenes main villain who had extremely little to do with the active story. I couldn't remember his name or motivation whatsoever, so the ending sequence lacked a lot of gravitas.

Now the author is doing a new, if semi-related webcomic and I'm back to square one with confusion again. Cast pages help immensely.
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6th Feb 2019, 7:17 AM #27
Mel Cormac
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My cast page exists largely for the reasons Moth said. My cast is pretty big, and some characters don't show up for actual years. It's useful for readers to put names to their dumb faces.

Also it's a place to put their ages and birthdays and last names, because surprisingly few of my characters' last names are actually mentioned in the comic proper (Gemma Ito who?) and I don't want to write a bunch of birthday chapters. I know there's a crowd who really likes knowing characters' star signs, which is one of the reasons I added birthdays.

I don't put character descriptions though, because I hate writing bios, they always come out so cringy whenever I try. So I don't do 'em. It would make the cast page even bigger anyway, and allow that.
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6th Feb 2019, 11:22 AM #28
Eli Cosmanis

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Mel Cormac:I don't put character descriptions though, because I hate writing bios, they always come out so cringy whenever I try.


Same. Mostly why I did a cast page this time around was to challenge myself and see if I could make something I didn't hate. ended up copy-pasting from story notes :P
I hate the bio pictures instead now.
6th Feb 2019, 4:38 PM #29
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Not only is it useful for the readers to look up the characters' names, I sometimes use my comic's cast page that way myself! (Well, concerning the spelling of my characters names at least - I am not that forgetful...)

That being said, my cast page is certainly in need of a major overhaul some day. (If only this wouldn't cost - gasp - time and effort!) It shows my five nominal main characters, but some of them have actually shown up in the comic less frequently than some other characters that are not on the cast page.
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"Because it's one of the first things that new readers read", 7th Feb 2019, 12:17 PM #30
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When checking out a comic to read, the Cast page is the third thing I would have to read, after synopsis and About page.

- It gives strong hints of the plot, what's logic behind these pro/antagonists' action, and where they're coming from.
- It is a showcase of your character design, and indicate the art style that readers can expect on your comic.
- It gives a clear picture of which character that individual reader could relate to (if any).
- It serves as a reminder when your reader wonders "Who's that again?" when your main cast consists of > 4 characters.

And for less important reasons:

- It is one of the place you can add random tidbits or fun facts about them that do not otherwise fit your in-story exposition.
- It gives a quick reference of timeline in your comic (relative order or first appearances, in-story age at different point in the plot, etc).
- It gives a rich reference for fanarts, fanfiction, or other fans-generated works.

Like many people already mentioned, comics usually run for several years. Characters may disappear for months (or years) in reader's timescale when reading update-to-update. It is very common that readers already forgot WhoIsThisGuyAgain if they didn't regularly re-read in bulk. Leaving readers in that position ruins their enjoyment.

Authors are not immune from forgetting characters details too, if the cast is large enough and/or timeframe is long enough. (And that will bring you the dreaded "continuity problem", which can devolve into retcon or reboot)

Note:
Commercially-produced comics/mangas also have cast pages, especially in multi-volume long-form stories- they are usually placed at the start of each volume. Mangas sometimes provide characters' relationship diagram too (e.g. A likes B, B friends with C, A and C dislike each other, D is B's housemate, etc).

Matt Comics:spoiling readers is a legitimate concern, though. I suggest avoiding any story-related info.

I actually like to read a moderately spoilerific description of comics and characters. This way I can quickly screen out the comics that I wouldn't like to read.

So, I would suggest two-level cast page. First level is a list of full cast, grouped by role/importance, displayed with their picture and basic information (name, age, race, affiliation, agenda). Second level reached by clicking each character will be the full description/fact sheet, ideally with a similar level of detail to a Wikipedia/Wikia article of said character; optionally with full poses/clothes/expression references if you would like to encourage fanarts.

But at the bare minimum, it has to be picture and name of each character in main cast (or at least the main protagonist and the main antagonist). Cast page without characters' picture is not really useful.

P.S. Few cases where Cast page actually being "pointless" would be gag-a-day, large-scale slice-of-life, or abstract/philosophical comic- that feature no recurring characters (or no character at all).
7th Feb 2019, 2:29 PM #31
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My cast page leads to nothing BUT I've got the character portraits drawn out...for over a year now. lol
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7th Feb 2019, 2:37 PM #32
kevintheradioguy

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xwindows:Note:
Commercially-produced comics/mangas also have cast pages


I just looked through my entire comic collection (which is an entire bookcase), and not a single one had a cast page.

Though a reference to manga gives me an impression this is a weeaboo thing, tbh o_0 the cast pages, I mean.
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7th Feb 2019, 2:58 PM #33
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A "weeaboo" thing? Two pages of valid replies and this is what you gather?
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7th Feb 2019, 3:24 PM #34
kevintheradioguy

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GabbyGood:A "weeaboo" thing? Two pages of valid replies and this is what you gather?


In case you missed that, I quoted a specific person, mate.
Also, most replies are "it's fun", which is not valid from where I stand.
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7th Feb 2019, 3:30 PM #35
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Imo, cast pages should only exist for 2 purposes:

1.) For promotional art. You know, to get your audience excited and pumped up for whatever you're releasing next. These pages, however, should not feature any vital information regarding your characters other than their names. If you give away anything else, it'll spoil the content of your webcomic. Giving away your characters' backstories in cast pages is just as bad as overusing expositional dialogue, maybe even worse.

2.) For your own guidance. If you have trouble remembering every little last detail about your characters and who/what they're supposed to be or do, making cast pages in a little notebook can be a very valuable tool for reference. Just don't share it with your audience, because again, see point 1.

And besides, it's best to reveal information about your characters methodically over time in your series, rather than have everything explained all at once by something that's not even a part of your series' timeline.

Instead of using cast pages to introduce and develop characters for your webcomic (assuming you don't want to do so naturally in the comic itself), you could take the Marvel cinema route and give your most important characters their own short story comic to explain their backstory, before you release your main series.

Merged Doublepost:

Mel Cormac:
I don't put character descriptions though, because I hate writing bios, they always come out so cringy whenever I try. So I don't do 'em. It would make the cast page even bigger anyway, and allow that.


Yeah, and not only that, but putting too much information into cast pages can spoil your webcomic. Imo, character development should be done in such a way that leaves the audience cogniscient enough to know your characters, but still leaves enough unrevealed to keep your audience guessing and wanting more.

Cast pages should show a picture of the character, their name, maybe their birthday and place-of-birth, and nothing more.
7th Feb 2019, 3:41 PM #36
kevintheradioguy

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Mothtrap: When I was making a cast page, it was not 'I saw them do that in Bleach once, I better do that!' rather 'other webcomics are doing this and it seems useful!'. don't think everyone with a cast page is a weeb.


Exactly. But it seems like it came originally from manga. That first comic in the chain of "other comics do that", they did it because "Bleach did that" (whatever the fuck Bleach is, honestly). And that is why I said it looks like a weeaboo thing.

It just... looks like a seagull nest where everyone croaks because others do (no idea how sounds of seagulls are called, I admit it), but I still cannot see why it is needed. Like, for real. A real, legit reason for actually needing that, besides just mirroring what people around you do. Most people I know smoke, but that doesn't mean that on itself is a good reason to start. It still looks like more harm than anything - the page, not the smoking in this context; adding spoilers to readers, or revealing carefully put hints in blunt text. Kills the intrigue, you know? And most webcomics I've read don't even need that page to begin with.

When you watch a film series, you don't have to get everyone's cast of "this is a main character Marry and she likes pineapples and colour yellow", and "this is Jill, she's the badguy with ADHD and she heats polka dots". You just get into it! It's been seventeen years between two Judge Dredd films (and no, I have not read the comics), and I don't need a reminder who Dredd is, what he looks like, what he likes (lol, "likes"), etc. I have not read my most cherished Transmetropolitan for four or so years, but I'm pretty sure I remember that the bald guy with odd glasses is Spider, the fat rich guy is Oscar Rossini, and The big blonde/redhead is Chanon who was a stripp-- pardon, exotic dancer. They just leave impressions. And if you forgot the name by any chance (which is the writer's fault for all too many reasons)... people talk, people think, and they use names all too often in the comic itself to be reminded pretty soon.
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7th Feb 2019, 3:47 PM #37
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kevintheradioguy:In case you missed that, I quoted a specific person, mate.
Also, most replies are "it's fun", which is not valid from where I stand.


I didn't miss that thank you. Your reaction to that alone made me think you didn't read anything anyone said at all.

Secondly, many are saying that it helps readers in addition to being fun. I'm not gonna reiterate the points everyone else has already made but I found this to be pretty spot on:

xWindows:- It gives strong hints of the plot, what's logic behind these pro/antagonists' action, and where they're coming from.
- It is a showcase of your character design, and indicate the art style that readers can expect on your comic.
- It gives a clear picture of which character that individual reader could relate to (if any).
- It serves as a reminder when your reader wonders "Who's that again?" when your main cast consists of > 4 characters.


Thirdly you made an entire thread about your comic/ideas which in itself could be considered narcissistic so I don't understand why a cast page would be considered as such. Granted you do have every right to make a thread like that, but I digress. Honestly dude if you don't see why it's needed don't use it. Literally all of us enjoy making them so if it ain't your cup of tea then whatever. Is what it is.
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7th Feb 2019, 4:01 PM #38
kevintheradioguy

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GabbyGood:I didn't miss that thank you. Your reaction to that alone made me think you didn't read anything anyone said at all.

I did, it just never seemed very...objective, for the lack of better word. "I find it fun" and "I forget names" is not objective at all. Those are points of view, of course, and I know I asked for those - the reason I don't yell at people to go fuck themselves, because it's not legit - it's my fault for not wording the question right; but yet, I clearly don't get your aggression towards my own point of view, while all people did in this thread is giving out their points of view!


GabbyGood:Thirdly you made an entire thread about your comic/ideas which in itself could be considered narcissistic so I don't understand why a cast page would be considered as such.

It's a blog thread (as it says in the beginning in big bold letters) in a bloggy forum. Expect me to argue about dogs and gay right as well there when I have something to get off my chest, but hey, blogs are narcissistic, expecting people to give a crap about your life. As well as having a twitter, for example, or Instagram, or anything alike.
I did explain why it is perceived as narcissistic: you gave the entire comic dedicated to your character. Big thing, hard work. But you're so full of yourself, that you also have to make extra pages about them? First impression I get is "pride gone into their heads": look at me, I'm so cool, I made these awesome characters, pay even more attention to them!
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7th Feb 2019, 4:02 PM #39
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It serves the same function to me, as a reader, the way a summary does. ESPECIALLY for long-form webcomics who update once-twice/week. Some of the comics I follow have been updating for years so it's impossible for me to remember a full cast in most cases.

I'd even go so far as to say it's more narcissistic to expect readers to be able to remember all your characters (unless you're working with just a few of them) with the typical update schedule in a long-form webcomic...

But also, if I do become a fan of a comic I simply enjoy reading up on lore, cast or whatever extra information I can find on them. I do the same for my favourite print/mainstream comics, video games, movies etc. I mean, I had a blast spending half a day trying to piece together the details surrounding the intricate storyline and character gallery of the Dark Souls series on one of their wiki's. It's essentially the same thing, only greater in scope than a simple cast page.
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7th Feb 2019, 4:11 PM #40
Mel Cormac
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Lol, wanting people to be able to follow my 9+ year long story by showing a few headshots with their names above them makes me a weeaboo? That's a new one.

Lots of people have made pretty valid arguments in this thread for having a cast page, but it sounds like you came into this conversation with your mind already made up.

Your approach to webcomics seems to be that they should be just like published print comics, which is really a personal decision, and power to you, but I respectfully disagree. The two mediums have different types of readers, different expectations, and require different approaches, in my opinion.

Also, Gabby's response made sense because although you were responding to one person, you then followed up with "gives me an impression this is a weeaboo thing, tbh o_0 the cast pages, I mean." which is pretty unambiguous, mate, sorry. There's no need to be rude about it.
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