Change is a constant part of the internet. One of the truths about websites is that if they remain static, they lose traffic. This is especially true about webcomics, with transient audiences who shift with the tides. When a comic stops changing (whether through hiatus or a story that never goes anywhere), it risks losing its audience in turn. The problem lies with how much a comic changes. Significant alterations of artstyle or storytelling can alienate readers who, while wanting the story to grow, didn’t want it to become different. Often, however, dissatisfaction with alterations in artwork are surface details on larger issues with story and character development. This is especially evident with D.C. Simpson’s classic comic Ozy and Millie.
When O&M shifted to a full-page art format six weeks ago, I was taken aback. I was rather fond of the traditional newsstrip format. It was quaint and comfortable and told the story quickly and succinctly. Part of the problem lay with two other comics (El Goonish Shive and Penny and Aggie) which had likewise moved to portrait-style art. After these strips had shifted artstyles I realized I was dissatisfied with those comics. But that dissatisfaction was in more than just the art. It was in the story, the pacing, and the characters. I didn’t want that dissatisfaction to spread to Ozy & Millie. After a few weeks I realized it hadn’t. While the artstyle took a little getting used to, the comic itself hadn’t fundamentally changed.
Today’s comic is a prime example of this with Simpson combining Zen serenity with the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to bring forth a Quantum Zen state. This is actually one of the few comics where the original newsstrip format would not work effectively. More importantly than art, however, is this clear sign that while the art style of O&M has changed, O&M itself has not. Fundamentally it’s still the same strip it was several years back, with the characters achieving gradual growth and evolution while remaining true to themselves. The balance of growth and stability have helped Ozy and Millie become my favorite short story comic, with a diversity of stories that is sure to delight both children and adults of all ages.