FREAKANGELS artist Paul Duffield, who has a background in animation, shares some informed thoughts on motion comics, proving that there is more you can say about the hybrid form than “Yuck.” However, there is a conceptual problem, he says.
This isn’t to say that they can’t and haven’t be well done before, but I think there might be a deeper problem at work – if a motion comic is constructed out of frames from pre-existing comics, they have to present parts of a now-missing page, (literally ripping bits of art out of a larger piece of art), and because they’re low budget, they offer very little to replace what has been lost. I’ve never found the result as engaging as either the original comic, or a purpose-built animation. And if a motion comic is actually a purpose-built animation, then there’s no need to call it a comic – it’s not one. Ideally, I’d love to see animation and comics in a new fusion-genre with its own unique storytelling properties, but most attempts seem to fall into the sort of lacklustre animation I’ve described, or into experimental webcomics with interactive or animated features (the only successful one of which I’ve ever seen is When I am King). With the internet and internet devices being what they are, I wonder if we’re seeing a new medium spending a bit too long in its infancy, or just the illusion of one that just doesn’t have anywhere meaningful to go. I guess time will tell.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.