Robot 6: digital comics are reaching the next stage of evolution
Over at Robot 6, Corey Blake looks at the latest innovations from Marvel and DC in the field of digital comics. He gives a brief synopsis of the evolution of digital comics, mulling over the innovations that have gotten things to this point:
… it’s becoming clear that after years of digital and webcomics primarily mimicking print comic books and comic strips, a new kind of comic is emerging, one that is changing how they’re made and read.
These current platforms were far from the first to experiment with digital. Artists like Cayetano Garza Jr. began experimenting with limited effects and layout as early as 1998. Scott McCloud’s infinite canvas theory, in which digital could break free of the confines of the limited dimensions of a page, was proposed in 2000, ironically in the pages of his print book Reinventing Comics. Experiments with using an infinite canvas followed, but it never grabbed hold as a standard format. Mostly, webcomics have echoed the structure and dimensions of daily newspaper strips with the occasional experimentation.
Which leads us to the new innovations at Marvel Infinite and DC2. Blake is ecstatic over the new possibilities. He points to Yves Bigerel’s experimental techniques, which are up at DeviantArt.
The simplistic brilliance of Bigerel’s concept is that instead of spreading panels out across an infinite canvas, he stacked them up on each other like animation cells. It’s essentially a PowerPoint slideshow using comics. And most importantly, the reader controls when the next slide comes up.
While this simple change retains the language of comics, it fundamentally alters how the comics read and how they’re created. The writers, and probably more so the artists, have to re-think how they approach their storytelling techniques. There are benefits. Surprises can be controlled better because there’s no risk of a reader’s eye scanning over the opposite page and seeing the reveal of the big monster. Page breaks become clicks. Layering is one of the biggest advantages. Instead of a sequence taking place from left to right, it can happen in the same spot, with additions to the image adding more information with each click. For the letterer, the reading order of dialogue can be controlled more. There’s less chance of confusing the reader over what to read next when you can have the dialogue become visible in the correct order.
So what do you think? Is there a significant paradigm shift coming ahead? Or will this kinda fizzle out like the whole infinite canvas thing?