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Future Comics: "The First Word" makes good use of scrolling, models


by Serhend Sirkecioglu

[Editor’s note: Serhend is a cartooning student at SVA with whom we’ve had a few conversations about experimental webcomics. This is the first of, hopefully, a series of posts pointing us all towards new ways of telling stories using “comics” and “the web”—two things that can mean almost anything. The journey is going to be a long one.]

I’ll admit I’ve not spent as much time digging through the web for digital gems as I did since Thanksgiving break, but writing this article has lit the proverbial fire in me to resume looking some for noteworthy web comics. A very brief bit on me is I’m a young and jaded cartoonist finishing his tenure at SVA. 

Web comics have at least 3-4 formats, the reader (page-page), the slideshow (panel to panel), the vertical scroll and the horizontal scroll (which could be just be called the scroll and is panoptic). Personally I like the intuitive feel of the scroll over the reader; which feels more like post production 3D; and the slide show, which is just a slide show. I recently came across this comic called The First Word from Electric Sheep Comix which uses CGI models…in a way where I don’t cringe as much, but put the scroll to good use. 

What kept me reading this was the timing of the kinetic elements. In some other webcomics I read which were of the reader variant, the moving element became a distraction for me. But with the scroll format it’s out of your way quickly and you leave with the intended impression. The story felt drawn out but I forgave it cause of its execution alone. It reminds me of NawlzThe Beat which is a fun and visionary web comic that does what I look for in the future of comics, using interactive elements to accentuate the story and not the other way around (story not really memorable), as most web cartoonists who use them tend to do. They build the story around the narrative function in a way where you can feel the forced structure. 

Both Nawlz and The First Word really show the full potential of scroll comics, though neither are great storytelling (good enough though), but I do hope that the programmers behind those story team up with more skilled cartoonists and collaborate on that future web comic which sets a new bar for interactive story-telling.

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