Now that’s a good idea

My love/hate affair with Carson Fire’s Elf Life continues.

The site continues to change, every week it seems, as Carson comes up with new ideas to try. Currently he’s got a daily strip, Sprite Life, that updates on the main page…plus a section called “What’s new in Elf Life…”, wherein updates to the Elf Life saga are listed. He seems to be trying to concurrently write Babes in the Woods (a prequel story) and Wedding Night (the latest story). He also uses this update section to remark on Elf Life related news and to post sketchbook scans.

I actually like the new incarnation: it’s clean and things are easy to find, plus I get the feeling that Carson (rather like me) tends to work in creative bursts rather than cranking things out every day, so having multiple concurrent projects means there’s more of a chance that there will be some new content when people visit the site. (Now, if only the store was functioning!)

While I approve of the current site design, that’s actually not why I’m writing. Today, there’s a huge link up reading “Now you can read the comics online or offline!” In the archives, Carson writes this explanation:

What’s the deal with the downloads?
HTML editions. Read the comics offline — collect the comics offline. And purchase goes towards production of new comics!

How it works: purchase, download, and unzip anywhere. The folder is clearly marked. For instance, Elf Life – Babes in the Woods 02 (here come the mermaids!) or Sprite Life 01 (the first set of Sprite Lifes). Inside that folder will be one easy-to-spot HTML file called START. Hit that and start reading in your default web browser!

Because it’s HTML, there are a lot of loose files. But all the files you need are inside other folders that you never have to open if you don’t want to.

I’m not sure if there’s really much demand for the PDFs that I’ve tried in the past. I’ve continued to have technical problems creating them, so I’d like to hear from anybody who prefers them.

Meanwhile, the HTML editions can be updated fairly easily. Some updates, bonuses, and corrections will be offered from time to time (Babes in the Woods, for instance, needs a few more comics converted from black & white to color in one issue — an update file will be provided later at no extra charge which can just be dropped into your existing folder).

He’s also added the note “Ad Supported” to the online archives, which are all still available to read.

I think this is pretty clever. The archives are still there, so people (like me) won’t freak out, but there are easy-to-save copies for people who want to own something. The prices are pretty reasonable, too: $2 for a chapter. Using HTML means the archives have navigation, so people can easily read his work–just like they can online, only without any ads.

Right now Sprite Life and Babes in the Woods are the only archives available to purchase. I’m looking forward to buying the original series and Wedding Night :)