The future of comics?

Here are some ideas from Scott McCloud and Jim Fallone that I’ve basically summarised and added a few bits.

The Infinite Canvas
Some ideas from comics guru Scott McCloud.

Without the limitations of a print-based comic there are several ‘rules’ that can be revised, bent or changed completely.

  • The pace: of a story no longer has to be defined by the number of panels that can fit in a page or the number of pages.
  • Dynamic Range: The size and shape of panels is no longer restrcited by the shape of those around it.
  • Distance=Time: Comics often distance in panels as a measure of time. We can also look at the distance and time taken between panels to help convey the story.
  • Flow: Comics no longer need to be disrupted by the turning of a page, assuming that the navigation is intuitive.
  • Z-Axis: digital comics can move left, right, up, down, but also backwards and forwards in the 3rd dimension. The viewer can zoom into or through a panel to reveal the story.

I would also like to add 4 things:

  • Camera movement: Panning, zooming, change of focus, shake, lens flare
  • Timing: Some panels could come and go according to their own pace even without the user pressing anything. Parts of fight sequences for example.
  • Background animation: Subtle animation, like falling leaves, twinkling lights or moving mist can add a lot to the atmosphere of a comic.
  • Sound effects: If done with a light touch, sound effects might enhance the atmosphere too.

‘What readers want most from any storytelling medium: a seamless, transparent window into the world of the story.’

Digital Comics: Level the Playing Field

By Jim Fallone

These four basic initiatives can enable any small publishers to compete on a surprisingly level playing field with the big guys.

  1. Metadata
  2. Search
  3. Format Flexibility
  4. Innovation

Metadata: tagging individual panels, speech bubbles and passages of text for searching, navigating and having it read out loud.
Search: We have to make sure we use the latest techniques to make sure the book and it’s contents can be found
Format flexibility: Despite the allure of the iPad, most consumers won’t have one in the immediate future.
Innovation: The big companies are slow to learn and change. They have invested significant amounts of money in tried and tested delivery methods and would rather wait and see how the market develops. This is a big opportunity for younger companies to create ground-breaking ideas and gain market share.

Other things we should consider including to connect with an eager and enthusiastic fan base:

Forums: Readers can talk about the stories, the art, and even suggest story lines to the authors.
Comments: Readers can comment directly on stories as a whole, or even individual panels. There could be an option to view the comic with annotation turned on or off to see what other readers have said about the comic as you go through.
Competitions: Drawing and writing competitions to encourage interaction and community and build up relationships between fans.
Merchandise: Niche merchandise for fans

Storylines can be more interactive, with readers making choices about where they go; which route they take through the comic.
Read a story from multiple perspectives by toggling between different characters.
The readers profiles (and their friends) can actually be used in the story lines.
Characters from the comics can come out of the stories and interact with people on the forums, comments etc.

We should also look at new and innovative distribution models. There are plenty of new ways to run a business over the web, whether it be subscription based, ad-based, pay-per-view or an online store, as well as many, many other models.

To sum up, if we work hard to create something original, innovative and absorbing, and then present it in an honest, thoughtful way, we can build a loyal fan-base around our product; this would have much bigger rewards in the long term.


About birdy3000

UK Graphic Designer
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