I have seen the future and it won’t stop moving
So what’s the future of webcomics? Heidi MacDonald and Scott McCloud think that webcomics may need a little action in the back section, if ya know what I mean.
In other words: motion comics.
Scott McCloud, noted advocate for webcomics providing things that are impossible in print, commented at his blog:
Got two emails in the last few days with links to two new webcomics using navigation techniques that neatly sum up this interesting technological moment we’re in.
Turbo Defiant Kimecan by Mexican artist Ferran Daniel uses Flash to load one panel or element at a time. We’ve seen a few comics like it, but this one gets points for some pretty artwork. Curious to hear what people think of this sort of loading order, now that we’ve seen it a few times. (Maybe time to revisit this discussion?)
Meanwhile, along comes an HTML 5 comic, Never Mind the Bullets (cooked up by Steaw Web Design to show off Microsoft’s IE9). More proof-of-concept than anything else, but it’s kind of cool and got me thinking about how that layered effect could be used in other ways. (thanks again to Randy Oest for the tip).
Of course, the real shoot-out going on this year is between file formats, and with the recent back-and-forth in the mobile space over Flash and HTML 5, it’s helpful to have some concrete reminders of the very different creative directions each might take us in.
McCloud has been pointing to these kinds of formal explorations for a while; neither of the above succeeds as comics or interaction BUT they do present intriguing possibilities. Every technology gets its D.W. Griffith, and it’s just a matter of time before some kid latches onto what’s intuitive and informative about these possibilities.
In the comments, Swiss artist Michael Kühni links to his own experiments with Flash, which are far more successful.
There’s also Boi by Vincent Giard, which uses Flash to convey that hungover feeling–to good effect.
There’s also Dan Goldman’s recently concluded Red Light Properties, another Flash-based story which had several technical upgrades along the way.
Overall, we see an unevenly evolving picture, as individuals mess around and come up with novelty ideas, some charming, some…awkward. The two examples McCloud points to do suggest possibilities however — Never Mind The Bullets, while poorly drawn, suggests the ability to follow stories in a more spatial way (clicking to go into an environment) without going full-on animation.
Both acknowledge that the example have met with quite a bit of criticism. (McCloud: “I’m not endorsing either approach as “the future of comics” or anything. But it’s always interesting to see how many different reading models there are, and even failed attempts can sometimes contain useful ideas.”) This is only right, since Flash, especially the glacially loading variety from our pals at Zuda, is a bad word around these parts. But is this, perhaps, what we are to expect our webcomics to be in the decade to come? After all, just a decade ago, it was enough to have a screen filled with dancing bananas and MIDI files. Is it possible that these two examples represent the next level of sophistication?