Hello! Whether you are new at this or an established comic maker with over 10 years of experience under your belt, there are a few things to consider when posting your comics on the Metrocop forums—and even when making them.
Back in the old days of 2005-2010, people were convinced that it was better to do comics as one large, continuous image (or a few of those) because otherwise, back then, users would have to wait for all images to load in order to read the comic, which, considering the bandwith of the mid-2000’s, could be a considerable time.
This ended up becoming sort of an unwritten and unquestioned rule and didn’t accompany the progression of Web development in the intervening years.
Nowadays, that old method actually works against how Web browsers now function.
All modern browsers now support a feature called lazy loading, which, in layman’s terms, means that static content such as images is loaded as the user scrolls down the page, rather than all at once at initial page load as in the old days. Here’s a visual example from web.dev:
What this boils down to in terms of comic making is that large images are no longer best practice for posting comics on the Internet (although one could argue, to paraphrase Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in Avengers: Infinity War, they never were).
Instead, you’re better off doing one of the following:
- Splitting the large comic images into smaller images, benefitting from lazy loading to ensure the user only loads the necessary resources as they’re needed, making page load significantly faster;
- Making your comics from the get-go as a series of separate pages rather than webcomic-like “infinite scroll” images. A few examples of comics that were already doing this are @Mjolnir’s Combine Exchange Program, @Eastman’s Jeff, my own comics and even BrashFink’s legendary Apostasy, which was already doing it right in 2005.
At the same time, a larger image naturally means a larger file size, which also impacts storage space on the Metrocop forums. Which leads me to…
The Metrocop forums allow you to directly upload comics here rather than rely on third-party image hosting such as Imgur and the dreaded ImageShack, in order to prevent the loss of images with time that are an unfortunate reality since the days of PHWOnline and Facepunch.
However, the continuation of that free service means that we expect you to behave responsibly as you post your comics here.
Specifically, keep the following in mind:
- The Metrocop forums are not your personal hosting service. Upload only images that are actually relevant, i.e. comic pages for a comic topic (this applies to every single category, not just “Comics”, but it’s especially relevant here);
- Preferably upload images on the correct dimensions for the Metrocop forums - the site width is 1200px, so there is little to no benefit in uploading 4000px-wide images and it only occupies more disk space unnecessarily. Considering the forum layout could conceivably change to a wider resolution in the future, some leeway is permissible—up to 2000px wide is a reasonable compromise if that’s the size you work with;
- Please refrain from embedding the Metrocop forums’ uploaded images on external websites (hot-linking), as this eats into the forums’ bandwith;
- If possible, convert your images to a lossy compression format such as JPG, WebP or AVIF rather than use compression-less formats such as PNG. Here’s an explainer on WebP specifically.
It’s worth noting that the forums automatically compress images to ease the load on the storage space as well as ensure images load quicker, but you can help ensure that images are properly optimized by doing it yourself. Here are a couple of tools that can help you:
- Squoosh.app is a 100% free compression tool maintained by former and current Google engineers that allows you to visually compress and convert images, allowing you to manually compress them to a point that they look essentially the same to the naked eye but have much smaller file sizes;
- XnConvert is a batch compression program that you can use for free for personal purposes. It doesn’t allow you to directly compare uncompressed and compressed images, but it does let you set a target compression quality (i.e. 80 or 90—I recommend the former for smaller images or the latter if you’re really worried about image quality) and apply it to however many images you have at once, making it easier for multi-page comics at the expense of Squoosh’s manual control.
Lastly, specifically because of the aforementioned want of keeping comics alive for as long as the forum is around, please do upload comics directly to Metrocop (or, alternatively, embed the images directly from third-party hosting—the forums will automatically download and replace them in a few days’ time), rather than share a link to a third-party website where they are readable (e.g. an Imgur gallery with all the images from the comic).
Thanks for reading this and being a considerate comic maker! If you have any questions, feel free to direct them to me by personal message or chat.