One thing, though: There are two kinds of Comic Whispers I'm really not interested in running: maga_dogg's Two-Phase Clusteryouknowwhat, and zarf's "see the panel before yours and see the panel three or four panels before that one." I don't think I would enjoy the particular challenges presented by those options, so I don't think I would do my best at running a Comic Whispers that uses them. So I'm not discussing them at all here--if you have your heart set on them, please either wait until Comic Whispers: Part 6 or let me know if you want to run of them yourself. I won't mind, honest. I just know I wouldn't be the best person to coordinate the activities in those cases, and have no interest in making this less-than-the-hugest amount of fun for anyone.
1. (Choose Your Own) Comic Whispers Asterisk
Courtesy of Jacqueline, this idea is about as simple as they get outside of the regular, vanilla Comic Whispers formats. Using the noble asterisk (*) as a model, we would start with a single panel, from which the reader could choose any number of choices (6 or 8, I'm thinking, being the most likely, as they're the most asterisk-like). After that initial choice is made, each story proceeds completely linearly and never agan interacts with the others.
2. Comic Whispers: Center Outward/Outside Inward
(Notice the spelling--if I'm running it, we'll be using American spellings!)
Anyway, Center Outward is even back-to-basics-er than Jacqueline's, though there are similarities. Again, we start with a single panel, which is the middle of the strip. The strip is then built both forward and backward simultaneously, and the final result is completely linear in nature, just like Comic Whispers 1-3. Outside Inward is the same idea, just reversed: One person draws the first panel in the comic, someone else draws the last panel, and then every else draws one panel until the center, where the two halves meet. (In CYOCW terminology, this would be a "two-panel bottleneck.")
3. Magic Square Comic Whispers
This has been discussed before, so I don't want to go into it at great depth again. However, if you need a refresher, check out this page for maga_dogg's excellent description of it, complete with handy colored diagram.
4. Parallel Comic Whispers
I'll let jotasbrane explain it in his own words, since he says it better than I could hope to: "There are several...independent plot threads going on simultaneously and linearly. You're not initially assigned to any thread: whenever someone finishes their panel, the next person is pulled out of the author pool to do the next panel in that thread. When it's your turn, you get to see the previous panel in your thread, plus the most recent panel in each of the other threads. It's entirely up to you how much (if any) influence those other threads have on yours. The threads could proceed in parallel, since several authors in thread A could all see the same "most recent panel" from thread B, but there'd need to be fairly strict deadlines to make sure that one or two threads didn't race too far ahead of the other(s). Also, the organizers would have to watch out at the end to make sure they didn't run out of people before assigning an ending panel to each thread."
nothings also suggested a possible variant to this idea: "[Y]ou could have two or three rooms of a house and have the two or three threads constrained to those rooms, and characters wander in and out.
5. Caption Competition Comic Whispers
This, courtesy of fourcoffees and inkylj, isn't a variant in and of itself as much as it is a method that can be applied to a variant. When drawing a panel, you leave all speech/text balloons blank; the person who follows you fills in the text for your panel and provides a textless panel for the next person. And so on and so on and so on. This method could be applied to any of the other Comic Whispers styles without too much difficulty.
6. Invisible Mimesis Comic Whispers
This is another method, courtesy of maga_dogg, that could easily be done with any variant. Everyone would have one little piece of information that they know about the story as a whole, and have to work it into their comic in some way. In maga_dogg's own words, "Say, if the participants were told something very vague, like 'The action of the comic takes place within the city of [fictional-name]. As well as advancing the plot of the comic, your panel should in some way flesh out the city - how you do that is entirely up to you.'"
7. Recherche Comic Whispers
To quote directly from norinel: "I keep trying to adapt Recherche into something where you can't see the panel immediately before yours, but it keeps turning into two separate stories that happen to be intertwined or something. Maybe something (After the first two) where you see the panels two and three before yours? That could still get surreal even quicker than usual."
8. Exquisite Corpse Comic Whispers
Again from norinel: "And if you really want to hail back to Exquisite Corpse, you could do something where you design the bottom half of the panel before and the top half of the next panel, and you just have to stitch the halves together. That'd be easier in terms of image editting than Caption Competition..."
9. Short Term Mem... Short Term Mem... Short Term Mem...
Norinel again: "[A]s long as I'm being anti-vanilla, why not do it all the way? That led me to [one] where you see the entire story except the panel before yours."
10. Choose Your Own Klein Bottle Comic Whispers
This is last because it's the longest, most complex, most ridiculous, and utilizes elements of just about all the others, for better or worse (probably the latter).
For those who haven't played Trinity, here's how Wikipedia recommends imagining one:
Picture a bottle with a hole in the bottom. Now extend the neck. Curve the neck back on itself, insert it through the side of the bottle...and connect it to the hole in the bottom. Unlike a drinking glass, this object has no "rim" where the surface stops abruptly. Unlike a balloon, a fly can go from the outside to the inside without passing through the surface (so there isn't really an "outside" and "inside").In other words, a geometric monstrosity where you're never exactly sure where you are in the grand scheme of things. This is my Comic Whispers idea.
To begin with, people would be working from images ONLY, no text. This is crucial, for a reason that will soon become semi-obvious (because, in trying to describe this, things only ever get so obvious).
Anyway, as you can see from the diagram on the right (which is a scan of the actual one I drew this afternoon, because it was a bit slow at work) the strip begins normally, with three panels in ordinary, untainted succession. The next panel (4) is a standard CYOA panel, offering two choices. Each of these choices leads to a path of five more vanilla panels in succession (5-15; 6-16), with the fifth panel of each path leading into another panel (17), a two-panel bottleneck. Now things get... uh... interesting.
17 then leads back to the picture used in 4. (Because the images, at this point, have no text, this can be made to make sense. Theoretically.) As this is technically the 18th panel, I'm going to refer to it as 18(4), so we know its numeric position and what art it uses. 18(4) leads to 19, another entirely new panel. 19 then leads to 20(5). This pattern (along the lefthand path created from the original 4) continues until we get to 30(15), which leads to 31(17). This panel leads to 32(16), which leads to 33, another original panel. The pattern continues in the opposite direction along the right path spun off from 4 until it reaches original 43, which leads to 44(4). From here, we go to 45, which is treated as resolving a bottleneck between the original 5 and 6. For complexity's sake, we'll call it 45(5-6). This leads linearly to 46(7-8), 47(9-10), and so on, until we've finished with 50(15-16). After this panel, we go to a third and final incarnation of 17, 51(17), which leads to original panel 52. This is followed up by 53, and 54, which is the final panel.
How does all this end up working from a narrative standpoint? This is the least complex part of all of this: After the panels are drawn (they shouldn't need to all be finished beforehand), participants go back and add in text, with just one wrinkle: We go in reverse order. The person who drew 54 would write 1, 53 would write 2, 52 would write 3, 51(17) would write 4, and so on down and up and down the line.
(You can ignore the blue-black dotted lines--I sketched them there to indicate potential CYOA paths, and couldn't unsketch them later. And I suck at Photoshop, so.)
So, anyway, there are the options we've come up with so far. If anyone would like to voice your support for or against any of these, please do so now--if you'd like to suggest something else, by all means, go ahead. I really want to do something that as many people as possible can have fun with, and the more input I get from all of you, the higher the likelihood that that will happen. Thanks in advance, everyone!