August 17, 2005

Keeping Digital Comics Comics

by Andrew Stern · , 1:44 pm

The somewhat surly NYTimes new media critic Sarah Boxer (if you recall, she wrote a pretty harsh review of the last Boston Cyberarts Festival) has been browsing web comics lately, and she’s concerned.

The comics that use digital technology to break out of their frozen boxes are really more like animated cartoons. And those that don’t are just like the old, pre-digital ones, without the allure of the printed page and with a few added headaches for reader and creator alike.

She describes several examples of what bothers her, backed up by a quote from Gary Groth of Fantagraphics, who when speaking of what artists are doing with comics on the web says, “the greater the use of technology, the closer we get to film”.

As we’ve discussed before, there’s a lot you could do with digital technology applied to comics that doesn’t turn it into film. It’s probably true that the easiest eye-catching technology to apply to comics, that some artists are doing, is to use techniques like Flash, and yes, that risks changing the form so much that they’re not comics anymore. I agree with Boxer’s last statement:

If comics want to exploit the Web without losing themselves, it looks as if they will be walking a very fine line.

I wish Boxer has seen this piece, for example.

6 Responses to “Keeping Digital Comics Comics”

  1. josh g. Says:

    Consider “Copper,” a beautifully drawn animal comic that won the prize for best art in the Web Cartoonists Choice Awards. To see the whole colorful page that Kazu Kibuishi composed, you either have to scroll up and down or look at the thumbnail sketch.

    Erm, I just opened Copper (thanks for the reminder Ms. Cynic, I hadn’t seen August’s page yet), maximized my browser on a 1280×1024 display, and centered the image, and it fit perfectly within the browser’s space. That’s with extra space taken up by Firefox’s tabs, even. Although to be honest I had never bothered doing so before, because anyone who’s browsed the intarweb for more than a year finds scrolling a page to be second nature already. It’s like complaining that you have to turn pages in a comic book.

    The other supposed “added headaches” don’t make much more sense, either. Oh no, you have to subscribe to see all of the past content on some sites – how is that more of a headache then buying a paperback reprint? Although, again, I wouldn’t have noticed because most of the webcomics I read on a regular basis (Penny Arcade, PvP, etc) have full history available for no extra cost.

  2. scott Says:

    I think her basic problem is that they keep assigning her to write about all these things, art, comics, you name it, and they keep sending her to computers instead of letting her write about the real thing. Gee whiz!

    I think it’s a bit generous to refer to her as a new media critic. Resident luddite perhaps.

  3. andrew Says:

    Via Scott McCloud’s site, here are some more displeased reactions and interesting commentary (1 2) about Boxer’s article.

  4. nick Says:

    Boxer’s article also hit Slashdot.

  5. Mike Penny Says:

    This is the best that I’ve seen, hi-res with no scrolling or zooming
    needed. here is a link to their website to check out a preview / demo:
    The Hitpack #1 – from Satellite Soda Studios
    Created by Enrique Corts & Mar Hernandez
    Written by Enrique Corts & Mar Hernandez
    Art/ Graphic Design by Enrique Corts
    Colors by Mar Hernandez
    Letters by Enrique Corts
    Cover Colors by Fabian “Monk’ Schlaga
    English Translation by Paul Gravett

    Amy Sanchez is a very shy and strange girl. Bullied by both her school mates and stepfather, until she discovers her ties with Lilith, who gives Amy some incredible powers to get brutal revenge and find Lucifer, the only one who can stand to fight with God himself. Putting aside their old as the universe love, this time it’s evil against good!
    Intended for ages 16 & up

    30 page – Online Comic

    High Resolution Color Images
    Unique Format: pages sized to fit your computer screen minimize scrolling & zooming

    Bonus Features: Pin-ups, sketches, & pencil pages
    Price: $ 1.70
    Preview Pages, Info, & Ordering Info Link:
    *** The Hitpack: A Digital Comic…..and the Way of the Future? ***

    “I’m rather impressed by what the creative team behind the Hitpack have put together…-

    …The artwork is exaggerated and dynamic, with a style that reminds me of artists like Damion Scott (Batgirl) or Humberto Ramos, and the outstanding coloring work is appropriate for the kinetic action and cartoonish character designs.” – Dave Davis

  6. EYS Says:

    Check out They have a pretty cool unique animated comic that not only can be seen on the computer but on the Sony PSP using flash.

    And it’s not a movie.
    It’s not a cartoon.
    It doesn’t use voice acting.
    It doesn’t use sound.

    It’s a “comic book” with enhancements that you READ for yourself.
    It still feels like a comic book.

Powered by WordPress