Just purely out of curiosity. What do you look for when seeking out a new comic?
I usually look for plot and artwork. I am more likely to read a colorful comic over a black and white one. I know there are great black and white ones out there but I just don't feel as up to seek them out as often.
I personally prefer black and white. (not quite sure why. Nostalgia maybe?)
But I must agree with your other statements. A good story is number one, and the artwork better at least be charming enough to portray whats going on. (I'm not super picky about skills, just so long as I can make out things, and see a decent background every once and a while.)
I never really have anything particular in mind when looking, if I come across something that looks cool, I'll try reading it and stop if I find it's not for me.
I tend to be pretty open minded when I come across a comic. Some things that put me off immediately though are more 'Sailor Moon'-esque anime styles and I can usually tell if the writing is enjoyable within the first few pages. Though, I tend to read twenty or so pages in before deciding. I keep in mind that beginnings can sometimes be the very first that person has done in comics and those few pages can be very experimental. I like seeing improvement in a comic, how an artist learns as they go along :3
Color isn't that much of an issue for me - I do a lot of monochrome, and keep hoping that one day I can figure out a purely black-and-white comic to do. I'm not colorblind or anything, I just hate coloring, and I never do it when I simply sketch out people and things.
Art makes me come, story makes me stay. If I really hate the art, I can't read it.
I don't have a preference color or black and white, as long as the artwork is decent and isn't in one of the styles that really turns me off.
Story-wise, I guess I'm always looking for something relevant to my interests. As long as it doesn't sound like something I've seen a billion times before or hit some tropes that I dislike intensely, I'll give it a try.
I tend to have less patience for stories that are slow to warm up. Like there are a few webcomics where I realize I've checked back for like a year and I'm still not entirely sure what the hell the main conflict is supposed to be. Sometimes I think one page a week is too little at a time for some people's writing.
A recommendation usually draws me. Knowing that so-and-so who has good taste likes a comic makes me want to read it. That can make me ignore bad art.
Art is a big thing to me. If one element turns me off I may delay reading or never start. If the the art is too pretty I also judge harder on the story. I want at least an okay story if the art is amazing. If the story is bad I leave because the pretty can't make me stay.
In the end story is the biggest thing for me. That's why I tend to listen to recommendations and reviews so much.
Art + writing, and writing is divided into plot and characters. Some comics have a really interesting plot, but the characters by themselves don't do much for me. Shingeki no Kyojin/ Attack on Titan is one example. The plot makes up for it though, so I follow it.
On the other hand, I can't think of any example at the moment where I loved the characters (or at least one of the characters) but didn't like the plot.
More genre-specific preferences:
I'm partial to manga-ish styles, but quality > style.
I'm really into mystery-driven plots. The whole "wtf is going on!!!" thing.
Prefer serious stories over more lighthearted ones.
Most slice-of-life comics don't appeal to me at all.
Don't really like strip-type comics. The ONLY one that did anything for me is xkcd.
Color or b&W doesn't matter to me. I've seen great toned comics, and comics that are just clustermucks of color. So the art depends on the artist.
Art-style, I don't mind, but I don't really like super chibi or super-cartoony. And likewise, gritty realism is a 'meh'. A balance between the two, I like. Clean, readable, above all else.
Plotwise, well-rounded characters are incredibly important. I've had stories that had good plots, but I just cannot connect with the characters at all, and it detaches me from the rest of the story. It's a personal preference, but I just don't like typical character tropes; like characters were made to fit a trope rather than characters just being made with a purpose, and when everyone is just more reactive.
Genre, it varies, but I really like comics that make me think 'What the heck' and 'oh my god' 'Holy crap'. Surprising things, emotionally moving things, disturbing things, (I would put silly things, but my sense of humor is very picky). Drama, action, mixed in with comedy to lighten the seriousness up, regardless.
Unffphftft, its hard to describe my 'perfect comic for me to read' formula, because there are exceptions to the above.
I like to see story-based comics rather than strips, probably because I dig fantasy and sci-fi more than any other genres. To me, good, quality art is the #1 priority. A comic that looks lazy or just poorly drawn is hard for me to get attached to quickly, so even if it has an awesome storyline, I'm going to have to push to get into it. Great art will get me hooked from the get-go; and a good story will keep me reading later. A good plot for me is centered around the characters - I like characters that have great depth and personality, ones that you can get attached to and want to follow on their adventures.
For art, I like semi-realism and manga styles, and I also prefer color because I feel like it's more immersive and generally more visually appealing than B&W.
I look at primarily two things: Style and Substance.
Obviously, there are things like dynamism of line, the basic shapes that make up the characters, use of colour - things like that. I look for these to see if they are done well, and for a pleasing relationship between these things and the story they are trying to tell. I prefer coloured to B&W, but sometimes the latter makes a lot more sense for the story, and in that case I expect some kind of a visual identity that makes up for its lack of colour (because I ******** LOVE COLOUR OMG. Colour is orgasm for the eyes).
I also look at how the web comic is presented and formatted - and if that adds to the web comic or takes away from it, if there is a natural flow to the comic that accommodates the pacing of the story and the rest of the comic style.
I like comics that are neat (in the sense that all of the elements look like they belong together, having been carefully thought-through by the artist) and have an obvious artistic touch delivered by the artist him/herself.
Honestly, the two things that matter most to me are the characters and the world.
I like characters that are fleshed-out, memorable and relatable on a human level. Even if they fill some certain type of character archetype, they need to feel dynamic and well-developed. This relates to style a bit as well, because I like characters that are interesting in both the written and the visual sense.
The second really important aspect is the world. Is it unique? Is it well-developed? Are there any things about it that are thoroughly unexpected and fresh, providing an interesting glimpse into a different world, and nothing like anything I've ever read about? (Tall order, I know - but even little things, new little twists on an otherwise well-trodden concept would make the comic a lot more enjoyable for me). This is what actually tends to turn me away from a lot of comics - they'll design the characters, write the story, and totally forget about the world and basically set the story in some kind of a placeholder environment that bends to accommodate the plot elements.
So long as the characters and the world are interesting, I couldn't care less about what the plot is (or isn't). I think it was Alan Moore who said that the plot is merely a vehicle for your character to explore your world, and I fully agree with that. I think a "story" is how the plot connects your characters to their world, so as long as it sort of works, I don't really have any preferences.
While I prefer longer story formats, I'm totally fine with short comic strips that contain a story in a page or two, so long as it's interesting (Oglaf comes to mind here... I know it's raunchy as hell, but it's also really entertaining, cynical, and totally unpredictable so I keep coming back every Sunday). I really love Ava's Demon (my current new love) and Lackadaisy (which I've been following for a number of years now).
I haven't "looked" for a new comic to read in... ever actually. The last few print comics I read were the result of too many hours spent on TV tropes (Hack/Slash and Empowered). What keeps me reading is different for each comic, but they all do one thing, they grip me. Whether it's because it's interesting, or tosses a cool premise at me or (though I'm embarrassed to admit it) enough attractive women, I'll give it a least a a whole volume's worth of reading. I have a theory that every medium has a limited window to get it's audience interested. For a web comic it will probably one of the first five strips, for a regular comic book, it would probably be about the first 4 or 5 pages and for a Japanese style comic book (manga) it would be at most 10 pages. What usually grips somebody in those first few samples isn't what keeps the comic going for the long haul, it differs for different people. I know I gave Scott Pilgrim a try just because I liked the art style, I gave Empowered a try because the first few chapters were kind of funny, I gave Hack/Slash a try because I liked the premise (though I don't actually like the comic book).
Of course, none of this matters if I don't know what the frell is going on 5 minutes into it.
Purposeful art is important to me. Not necessarily technically good... I love experimental stuff, I love new modes of storytelling and styles. If the art is crude, it should be crude because it was an obvious purposeful, aesthetic decision.
Black and white/color does not matter to me at all... I've seen some comic book original inks where I feel that represented the art better than the color version sometimes! I do like to see good color, as mentioned earlier, "not abused".
World building is crucial to me - a good attention to backgrounds and environments (I've seen some comics where there's too much attention to their characters, with stiff and bare environments).
I'm extremely openminded about stories, so long as they make enough sense within the overall world established.