While we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop on the New 52, digital comics are inching towards new developments that may make them even more native on digital platforms. A couple of examples were being tweeted about heavily this week.

Cartoonist Dan Archer has been experimenting with interactive non-fiction comics for a while. What is Comics Journalism? by Dan Archer, a survey of non-fiction comics from Thomas Nast on. It’s a nice looking piece but comes with bells and whistles:

The comic below was designed to be read with supporting information, in some cases adding more details about a particular journalists’ work, in others, attributing the source material that the panel references.

In order to fully explore the piece in this way, click on the pages below and a new, larger version will display in a pop-up window. Once it does, hover with
your cursor over different parts of the panels for related links to the content. Preview descriptions describing the content will appear (when available) if you hover over the panels for a few seconds. Then click to view the source material in a new browser window.

While hyperlinks are not exactly a daring move into the future, these kinds of interactive comics are beginning to show up on iPads more and more. Operation Ajax is another example, a fully interactive comic about the CIA’s efforts to overthrow the Iranian government in 1953 — clicking links brings up all kinds of background and supplemental material. It’s available as an app for iPad, the platform of choice for most of these experiments.

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Archer goes WAY further with this comic about the 2007 Nisoor Square shootings, in which some Blackwater mercenaries are believed to have killed 17 and wounded 24 Iraqis. The interface is very complex but basically you can click on a timeline which takes you to a diagram of where the various players are located during the incident — Iraqi police, civilians and the Blackwater ops. Hovering on any group creates a small comic with the story from their viewpoint. This is not only journalism, it’s Rashomon. It isn’t the clearest interface but it is very very ambitious.

Archer has other comics on his web page. There’s a lot more where this is coming from.