Digital-or-Death_Comic-Format-Wars

Device = Format = Storytelling?

& Creation.

We can presume what effects tablets have had on comics readers. I’ve read a heck of a lot more comics since I got one. Heck, last year, Comixology sold more than 25 Million comics via their app alone.

That’s a lot of trees that were saved, only to be set aside for latter execution via Ashton Kutcher’s forthcoming memoir (don’t Google that, it’s not real, and you’ll just encourage him).

But what, dear readers, is the effect of tablets on the comics themselves?

The introduction of new technologies often effects the evolution of art. When I brought this up with the insightful Mr. Horrocks (of Three Tips fame) he referred to the introduction of Sound to movies. Early cameras were bulky, loud machines that were often moved on tracks to attain cinematic moves through sets and around actors. When sound recording was introduced, not only did it end the careers of hunks with high voices, it also temporarily killed the camera move.

The cameras were so loud that they had to covered with large, sound proof boxes to stop them registering on the sound recording. They became difficult to move, and the art of moving cameras was temporarily sacrificed until new, quieter technologies could be developed. In the meantime, the audience got sound, but lost the recent developments in the art of camera movement.

Last year, Arune Singh, of some massive company that you probably haven’t heard of (Marvel), said “… that their new Season One line was drawn with the screen in mind, with consistently sized panels and no big spreads that read poorly on an iPhone.” Link

(He’s from their ‘Communication Arm,’ whatever that is. Something you get once you sell more than a gizallion stories about superdudes? Some sort of lame-duck superpower?)

Will we be seeing comics with nothing but ‘iPad proportion’ frames adorning our comics? Regular panel sizing certainly worked well for Dave Gibbons on Watchmen, and Will Eisner refers to consistent panel size as less obtrusive way of communicating with the audience. Will artists need to find new ways to add impact to story beats, rather than simply falling back on odd compositions or break-out panels?

I Speak Comics have just published an interview I did with Head-Beard Ben Chabala about the future of digital comics, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to expand a bit on my approach here.

I’ve designed Moth City to work in both digital and print formats. The digital format enables a bit more trickery on my part, but the art stays mainly the same. And yes, that was a peak at the cover art for Season 1, above.

 

 

Conversely I have also designed my upcoming Western mini Comic, The Reservoir, to be told in a full frame manner. That sucker will look good even if you read it on a Nokia (which I’m told by my great-grandmother is some brand of telephone from 1865 – please note the below image is not a Nokia).

It works more like a picture book than a comics, but it still retains a lot of what I love about traditional comics.

Read any good digital comics recently?

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