Interesting story: I’ve been reading the webcomic Romantically Apocalyptic for at least a few years now. I want to say I began reading it shortly after it launched several years ago, but the longer I say I’ve been reading it, the more clueless I’ll sound. As with most webcomics I read, I subscribe to their RSS feed and click over when a new update shows up in my reader.

Also as with most webcomics I read, I don’t bother reading much besides the comic itself. That’s partially to save myself some time, but partially because I think any/all pertinent information should be in the comic itself. I shouldn’t have to look up the cast listings or read the About page to follow the story, even if I’m jumping into the middle of it. Honestly, I use that as a kind of barometer on the creator’s storytelling ability.

In any event, I’d been reading Romantically Apocalyptic for a while. I shared it with a friend recently, and he responded in a way that seemed to question whether it was a comic at all. I thought perhaps I sent the wrong link, but no, I confirmed I was sending him to the right site. Judging by his comments, he was indeed seeing the art, but he seemed to be under the impression that it was a prose story with a few illustrations.

After a bit of back and forth, I realized the problem. The “comic” is in fact multimedia storytelling. There is indeed a significant comic portion which pushes the plot along, but nearly every page also includes reports and communiques and such from the characters, going into more detail about themselves and their interpretations of events. There are also audio tracks that accompany many of them as well. What creator Vitaly Alexius has done has used several forms of storytelling simultaneously to develop a larger world than is possible to show in the comic alone.

And I’d missed all that. I have spent literally years reading the comic portion and completely ignoring everything else on the page. I assumed the prose was author commentary. I assumed the audio clips were just ambient music. I had missed a huge chunk of work that was put into this, probably in my haste to get on to my next webcomic. Possibly also due to the fact that it’s called a webcomic in various places; why would I expect there might be more than 99% of other webcomics?

I don’t know if I was just generally being oblivious here, or if there’s something Alexius could have done differently in the presentation (maybe site layout, maybe a more consciously interactive approach with the UI, I don’t know) but I think it brings up two significant points here. First, if, as a webcomic creator, you are doing something outside the norm for webcomics, it might not be a bad idea to play that up as much as you can so idiots like me don’t miss it. Second, despite being around for decades now, there are still people out there exploring different ideas of what it means to be a webcomic—that sounds to me like a very positive aspect of the medium!