That's a thought provoking question, and your answers are varied quite a bit. Choosing the best answer will be pretty subjective, but the discussion and differences between the answers will be useful to everyone.
That being said, here's an idea...
Here is my interpretation of the requirements:
- Make it fit the existing site's structure, specifically the paging paradigm
- Present to the browser actual text of the story as text ("accessibility"). This also enables other features such as external indexing of the pages by search engines, and site search (if you have it), on-page SEO.
- Maintain the artistic integrity: present the text within each cell as it was handwritten by the artist.
- Present, if possible, all of the cells as they were drawn together on the page. [Are the little boxes called "cells" and do you have them? I'm visioning comic-book like artwork, but it could be something different.]
Given those things, I think the best approach would be to present to the user two "frames" of material (you could use iFrames if you wish, but it's not necessary); I'm not suggesting the use of HTML frames.
- First "frame" of content: a scaled down view of the entire page as a single image, not meant to be read, but used to both show the complete composition and also serve as an aid to the navigation of the book.
- Second "frame" of content: a large image of each comic cell, accompanied by the text that is part of that cell's image, but as text. Give the user the option to hide the text, but display the text as a default.
The user would page through the cells by clicking, perhaps, a triangle pointing right, allowing them to go back a cell with a triangle pointing left.
I'd also suggest two more thumbnails: an even smaller view of the image of the next page (with more cells), and an equally small view of the image of the previous page. This way, the user can navigate to the actual pages of the book, not just clicking cell by cell.
I think that it's worth considering, also, to hide the rest of your site elements. You could make this an option the user could click (like hiding the text), or you could just hide the typical site UI upon the opening of the book -- immersing the user in the fullest experience of the graphic novel online. You could also offer a toggle of the site UI by giving a site logo/button [rest of site: SHOW | HIDE].
Here is why I suggest this approach:
- You avoid the incorporation of a document or file (such as PDF, DjVu).
- You provide "accessibility" but not only for the purpose of accessibility, you get the text of the content onto the page which is obviously good for search, etc.
- You present the user with as much of the artistic feel as possible -- showing the full page and an enlarged view of each cell.
- If you hide the rest of your site's UI, the reader is immersed in the novel, losing the feel of browsing a website. IMO this helps maintain the artistic integrity.
- It doesn't require HTML5 or a technology that limits the number of potential readers.
- You don't put the novel's content inside