Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
This is such a great idea, I don’t know why no one has thought of it before: Just the First Frame is a webcomics aggregator that posts the first panel of a variety of webcomics, allowing the reader to glance down the page and click the comics that look most interesting.
Henry Kuo, the creator of the site, explains the webcomics dilemma in his “about” page: Visual sites like Pinterest and Tumblr show the whole comic, rather than making the reader click through to the webcomics site; this not only infringes the creator’s copyright but also diverts clicks, and therefore money, away from the original site. Reddit is just a list of text links, so it lacks the visual hook that makes a comic a comic in the first place. Just the First Frame avoids all these pitfalls: The site simply posts the first panel of each comic, allowing the reader to grasp the essentials right away; each panel is a link to the full comic on the original site. Kuo is even thoughtful enough to note how many panels are in each comic, so readers know what they are getting into.
Honestly, my first impression on glancing at the page was, “Wow, there are a lot of poorly drawn webcomics out there.” Once you get past that, though, there are some hidden gems. I found two that tickled me, Robbie and Bobby and Tree Lobsters!
I’d love for the site to be a little more selective, but I appreciate what Kuo is doing. It’s not clear whether the site is automated, like Google News, or Kuo is putting the panels in by hand; if the latter, it must be quite a time sink, and upkeep may be a challenge. I hope he makes it work, because this is an extraordinarily useful tool.