Binging Versus Episodic Consumption

This post is over a year old, and likely doesn’t reflect my current thinking or mindset.

I have been on a binge of comic books lately. When Telltale Games released the quitawesome Wolf Among Us, I got hooked on the story enough that I started to check out the series it is based upon. Fables is the name of that series, and it was the start of my new wonderful hobby, reading comics. But reading through all the backlog of comics had me wondering about how binging on content versus waiting month to month for it changes an opinion of the work as a whole.

Fables as a series has been publishing monthly since 2002, under the DC imprint Vertigo (Sandman, The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc). I purchased every trade book (a collection of 5 or more issues into one volume) and essentially read them all in a weekend. As I binged through the entire series, it had me wondering how my view of the work as a whole would differ from someone who went month to month on the story.

I’ve read on the comment sections of a couple of blogs that around the time of Mister Dark, the series began to go into a lull. That’s two or three short trades, but a year or two for those going to month to month. Years of a lull versus an hour or so of reading really gives one a different perspective on the work as a whole.

To think about it another way, if one play The Wolf Among Us, episode two was weak compared to the rest of the game. If one play all 5 episodes in order without having to wait the month or so in between releases, it is a mild speedbump on an otherwise smooth road. But if one has played it episodically, a view of the series can shift from episode to episode as it will be a month until they can play more content.

Another issue I’ve found is the lack of social discussion about episodes. If one binges through the entire work, the discussion is retrospective. If one follows it as the story plays out, there’s the chance that the discussion can affect the content, and not just be a effect of the content. The community around the content changes. When everyone binges it is a community of people impacted by the content, when they go monthly it is a community of people impacting the content.

In my own head, as i’m playing The Wolf Among Us from episode to episode and I have read through all of Fables at once, I much prefer episodic consumption over spending a weekend of being hunched over and taking it all in. At the end of episode three of The Wolf Among Us, I was left with my jaw dropping at the floor, knowing that they ended the episode on a perfect note. In the comics when I got to the end of issue 75, I kept on reading. I didn’t take the time to process what I had just read and the pivotal happenings in the story that just occurred.

Consumption of content tends to be assumed as something left up to the consumer, but there’s merit in consuming it as the artist intended.