Posts Tagged ‘webcomics’

Canned Riff


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

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I found this list written in my notebook. It was a cheat sheet for an interview on Inkstuds. We ran out of time before I could get to these riffs, so I am posting them here before they become too stale.

-Webcomics are good for gags only/contained stories for that screen, that day. They work like one pagers essentially; serialized stuff does work in theory but I’ve only read a few I actually like.

Jim Rugg discussion about imaginary audiences. Jim’s always talking about finding the audience who would read zombie comics or something popular and trying to devise schemes to get them to be his readers “How do you tap into these people cuz you know they would love this kind of story I’m doing” – Ed Piskor does same and finds that real/imaginary audience.

-Jesse Moynihan did the most amazing comic online but no one talks about it – if it was a book and laying around in the store, maybe people would write/talk about it more? (more…)

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Comic Scans on the Internet


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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Probably like many CC readers, I read a lot of scans of comics on the internet. Unlike webcomics, where the cartoonist is conscious of the fact that people will read it online, these poor, often dead cartoonists have been hijacked (stolen, really) and forced into a formatting that they didn’t intend, and often didn’t know would ever exist. Their labored-over page turns and splash pages have been forced into click-throughs and scroll-downs. They’ve been completely screwed. Still, I’m sitting there waiting for my scanner to finish doing its thing, a stack of unread “real” books weighing the scanner bed down, and I’ll click over to to read some Bernie Wrightson. While I’m waiting for music to illegally download, I’ll go illegally read a manga scanlation. It’s too easy.

Obviously, I prefer reading these comics in their original, intended, print versions. But, again, it’s right there. Free. And I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon.

I’m going to write about this experience a little. Just three random topics.

1. Large Documents
You click on a link expecting a small, web-friendly jpg image and the browser window slowly (“uh-oh”) loads, opens, and you find yourself staring at a quarter-inch of yellowed paper texture enlarged over your entire monitor. You scroll down and to the right, seeing a single brushstroke—what is that? The top of someone’s head? A branch? Or you’re looking at a couple of letters of each word as you read (“nu”…”ff”…”sa”…). Or you think you’re looking at the main character of a panel until you scroll around to discover that the person was actually in the far background and the central character can only be seen one facial feature at a time.

This reminds me of how little the human eye actually sees in focus at any moment. In middle school a teacher illustrated this fact by writing a word on the chalkboard. He told everyone to stare only at this one word. Then he wrote another word six inches above the first word. Nobody could see the second word if their eyes remained fixed on the first word. Like, try reading something at the top of this post while staring at this word. Maybe in seeing these comic scans enlarged, this is like seeing what the inside of my eye is seeing at a single moment as it darts around a comic page.

What comic pages work well in this unnatural view? Dense splash pages. Decorative design elements. Landscapes. I briefly looked around for something to scan that would look interesting this way and picked up a Blueberry book. This is actually only half of a printed page, so it doesn’t take long to load.

Holy crap—it looks great this way. In print, this page feels really dense and claustrophobic. Here, it’s a more spacious, but active, environment. The splattering of colors translates really well too. And, somehow, I think it captures the adventurousness of the Blueberry story. Click on the image and scroll around inside the page. It’s fun!

2. Bad scanning/pixelation

I spent a few years doing illustrations for a health services website where I’d have to (quickly) integrate drawings and photos in one piece. I’d use the “eyedropper” Photoshop tool to pick up colors from the photos that I would then use in the drawings so that the colors matched. The eyedropper tool could never find the right color. Is that guy’s shirt really so dark? Is that kid’s blonde hair so grey? The eyedropper was only picking up a single solid pixel color. It’d be as if you eyedropper-tooled a scan of a comic and were shocked that someone’s skin tone was either bright red or solid white.

Comics have moved from one format with famously awkward small units of color that optically combine to a new version of the same thing.

There are probably a lot of comparisons that could be made between this either/or visual information and other mediums. I was struck by how much a detail of a tapestry looks like a low-resolution jpg:

Also, there are wide variations of scanner qualities and preferences. I wanted to send an image of a “Classics Illustrated” page to a friend and I didn’t feel like scanning it myself so I found it online:

But this page looked nothing like the comic I owned. The colors are so washed out. Is this how this person scanned it? Or did their copy actually look this way? Maybe it looked correct on their computer and my computer was calibrated differently. Here’s my scan of the same page:

It’s possible that lots of scans I’ve read online look nothing like what the original reproductions (ha ha) do.

3. Coincidental Marriages
Most comic pages are hard to read on the computer. You scroll across and then down and realize you missed half of a conversation that was in word balloons hugging the bottom of the panels. You were just zipping away on the top 2/3rds of the panel. Or you have to laboriously scroll up and down to figure out how you’re supposed to read a page. Or you can only understand a spread by clicking back and forth to try and imagine what two pages look like next to each-other. But sometimes a page, coincidentally, feels really intuitive on the web.

Here’s just one example, a BWS Uncanny X-men page hosted by (a site that provides a radio soundtrack for your comic reading!):

This page reads great on the web. I love how, as you scroll down, the hands become bigger and then it moves back to a wide view. The floating colors seem to drift around on the screen as you scroll.

Television’s changed the way movies are made. Generations of filmmakers raised on watching television now favor TV-informed traits. A close-up natural for the small screen has led to billboard-sized close-ups in the theater. It isn’t unusual to be sitting in the movie theater examining the enormous pores on Brad Pitt’s nose.

Maybe in the future, generations of cartoonists raised on reading comics on the internet will change the way they make print comics, unconsciously favoring stand-alone pages, long horizontal panels and “scroll-down” style vertical reveals.

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BODYWORLD concludes


Thursday, February 12, 2009

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I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. If you’re not following the webcomic Bodyworld, then you’re missing out on the most formally inventive comic being made today. I suggest reading the whole thing from start to finish, which you can do now that the thing has ended. Enjoyable for me cuz I watched it turn and mutate over the past year so the finale really hit home. Loved it. You will too. And if you don’t, you’re just a moron who doesn’t know a thing about comics.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

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If you aren’t checking out this comic every week, you’re missing the most inventive color comic being produced these days (with new pages added every tuesday). Even if you haven’t been following along, it’s worth spending some time at this site. Shaw is doing some incredibly interesting formal work in his compositions and in his color. And the very format of the strip –the scroll– is really altering my ideas about how a webcomic can be enjoyed and how it might translate into a printed book.

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Jog Wins Again


Friday, January 25, 2008

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He’s first over the line one more time.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture


Friday, January 11, 2008

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I spent Christmas with my girlfriend’s family, who very thoughtfully got me a couple of books, not knowing what an ungrateful wretch I really am. I already have (and still haven’t read) the Schulz bio. But I hadn’t even heard of Shooting War, a newish graphic novel by Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman initially serialized online. Shooting War is the story of Jimmy Burns, a video blogger in 2010 who finds himself in even-worse-Iraq and, naturally, embedded in a fanatical military unit, kidnapped by a terrorist, and rebelling against the news establishment.

Let me digress for a minute. There are a few tendencies in contemporary culture that seem somewhat deadly:

1) A nerd-driven flippancy that signals: “I know more than you do, and I’m right all the time” (see: most blog-driven magazines).
2) The replacement of actual character-driven dialogue with TV or noir-shorthand. (see: any “adult” comic published by DC or Marvel in the last few years).
3) The inevitable “wacky” appearance by a previously “respectable” celebrity figure, in order to set it all in “perspective” (see: Bill Murray lately).
4) The substitution of photoshop technique for compelling images.
(see: most contemporary graphics).

Shooting War revels in all four of the above tendencies, in the process making the following points:

1) War is dumb
2) The news media is biased
3) Sometimes people need to grow up
4) Corporations are taking over America
5) There are fanatical Christians just like there are fanatical Muslims
6) Some old news guys still have integrity, and we can learn from them!

I suppose that it’s enough for a lot of books make the above points and walk away. What bothered me about Shooting War was, of course, that these points are boring and have been said a billion times on comedy shows, in newspapers, magazines, Doonesbury, etc etc. There’s not a single new idea in the book. It’s all recycled, media-driven stuff. And neither is there an original character. Jimmy is the (now) classic angry nerd typified in current culture–the glib, smart, and resourceful boy-man who learns some important lessons and gains maturity over the course of the narrative. And all of this is in the guise of a “revolutionary” narrative. The worst offense committed is throwing Dan Rather into the mix as a newly bad-ass father figure to Jimmy — Bill Murray in a Wes Anderson movie, or John Wayne in a Preacher comic. It’s all so damn easy. The art by Dan Goldman is equally tough to stomach: an undigested photoshop stew with no rhyme or reason to it. Goldman poses inexpressive figures littered with a ton of marks I suppose could be considered rendering against the most basic photoshop filter backgrounds. Anatomy is out the window, and for a supposedly character driven, issue-focused book, there’s not a single telling facial expression or body movement in the book. It’s all just poses. You can cover up a lot with a wacom tablet and CS3, but Goldman’s flimsy grasp on the most basic drawing and storytelling skills is pretty glaring. All the blur effects and shadows in the world can’t cover that up.

All of this is so much the worse because, if you’re going to do a fiction comic about a new media maverick in a warzone, you have to measure up to Brian Wood’s DMZ at the very least. That comic, while still possessing some of the faux-cool mannerisms of Shooting War, is at least smartly satirical and possessed of multi-dimensional characters. Shooting War is a slick, packaged product. It rails against mass media, while presenting something as homogenized and unthinking as the very thing is criticizes. It’s rebellion in a package — a kind of grotesque reflection of what passes for satire these days. Things like Shooting War are the inevitable byproduct of an increased interest in graphic novels (read: glut), but then again, the culture in general is full of them. It’s fake smart, fake rebellion. Seek out something real, something with meaning, instead.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

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This is the prettiest, most interesting comic you’ll read today.

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