This webcomics thing is heating up!
Actually, what’s heating up is that a new population of webcomics immigrants is moving to this new land and trying to learn the customs and shortcuts of the new society. And the natives—creators who came of age with the web as their native platform—are probably rolling their eyes and going on with business.
¶ Warren Ellis muses on the two-tier format that the immigrants are adapting:
What else do we notice about these three screens? Two-tier storytelling. Isn’t it strange how all three teams have gone to two-tier, independent of each other?
Maybe not. You’ve cut the print page in half. If you want each screen to make sense as a discrete entity, you have to respect the cut. If you want each screen to contain enough information to make it worth reading, you need a strategy to maximise your panelling. And if you want to be able to stretch out and get a big picture in there while still maintaining storytelling coherency, you’ve kind of got to go wide on the page.
¶ Meanwhile, George Gustines at the New York Times has also discovered webcomics, via Mark Waid’s various enterprises.
When reading a traditional comic, the eye cannot help taking in the whole page at once. The digital format and the pace of the Infinite Comic can lead to more surprises. As each successive panel appears on the screen, each tap or click can reveal a new caption, subtly change an illustration or replace it entirely. Focusing and blurring effects can heighten the reading experience or simply allow one to appreciate the artwork, which is richer and more vibrantly colored than the printed page.
Mr. Waid, a celebrated writer for Marvel, DC Comics and small publishers, noted that there were compromises in making digital comics. The Web may be infinite, but the borders of monitors, tablets and smartphone screens are not. Even on an iPad, the “canvas” is about 20 percent smaller than the standard comic book page. But “the trade-off is international distribution,” Mr. Waid said, “as opposed to having to rely on niche hobby shops scattered across the nation.”
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.