About Just the First Frame
I created Just the First Frame to be the best way to discover comics on the web. Two opposing issues surround web comics today: discoverability (sharing) and copyright infringement. I believe that showing only the first frame of each comic elegantly solves both. I'll outline the argument below.
1) Pinterest, Tumblr & Facebook
Social media sites are great places to share and discover content, web comics included. The problem is that more often than not, people share the web comic in full, so their friends get to enjoy the comic without the need to click through to the originating source. That means no ad impressions and no recognition that someone has viewed the work from the artist's perspective. This is a form of copyright infringement, but it's a two-edged sword. The benefit is that it's easy to discover the work. The drawback is that the original artist doesn't know who, how or where their work is being shared as well as the lost ad impressions on their own site. Some people also add a link to the original source, but not nearly enough understand the importance of this. The attitude is generally, "Share All the Comics!"
Don't get me wrong. Reddit is by far my favorite place to discover comics, and one of the best things is that the moderators of the comics and webcomics subreddits are highly sensitive to copyright infringement and giving the artists their rightful traffic. But therein lies the one drawback for me. Comics are visual, but on reddit, I must rely on the text as a deciding factor and assume the most upvoted comics will be more interesting. This is where a site like Pinterest shines. They understand that people are drawn to visuals, and that imagery is a fun and easy way to decide what to click on. And what are comics, if not visual first?
Another minor drawback is that the turnover rate of comics on the front page is fairly low, and reposts from days, weeks, or months ago are common. As a follower of web comics, I want to see the latest and greatest. Which brings me to my final argument...
RSS brings to me the latest and greatest. Yes! Exactly what I want! But the format of it comes with the worst of both worlds mentioned above. Some artists provide the full comic in the feed. Great for me, but no click-through for them. Some only provide a text link, forcing me to click through. But a text-only link just isn't attractive often leading me to skip past the post. A couple other tricks artists do is to show a really tiny thumbnail or a cropped portion of the comic. Those are both really good ideas. But in the end, I'm getting a highly inconsistent format, and it's a bit of a discombobulated experience.
4) Just the First Frame
Which brings me to this website. Updated daily, I believe this brings the best of both worlds. By showing only the first frame, people have no choice but to click through in order to enjoy the full comic. Reading only the first frame would be like hearing a joke without the punchline, the punchline being the most important part. Also by showing the first frame, people get a highly visual and scannable page, allowing themselves to be drawn to the variety of comic styles. Moreover, by reading the first frame, they're given a unique hook to click through for each and every one.
So, highly scannable, visually consistent, and click-throughs are imperative for enjoyment (unless you just like looking at pretty pictures without context). I believe this makes this the best and easiest way to discover comics on the web today.
- Henry Kuo