Is the iPhone the platform I needed to kickstart a new love of comics? After reading a special 20th anniversary edition of Wallace & Gromit, I think it might be.
The experience of reading comics on a phone with a dynamic touch interface is one that I really like and, have to say prefer, to reading comics on paper. I was trying to think why this might be, and the only reason I could come up with is that when I usually read a paper comic I am so distracted by every scene on the page that I can’t focus on what I am reading. With an iPhone, my focus is (how can I put this) more focused? You choose just one screen at a time, and then swisshhhhhh, with a flick of the finger the next one appears.
I was sure that Scott McCloud would have something to say on the matter, and in the interest of time saving (this full time job thing really kills my spare time) I am going to paraphrase some stuff I have found on his site.
The first link I found on McCloud’s site was for Bludzee, an iPhone comic from Ave!Comics. This company makes a few different comics for the iPhone. I’ve just downloaded it, so will let you know what it’s like.
In another brief post, McCloud mentions a panel on handheld electronic comics that was held at SXSW in 2009. The comments after his brief comment are worth reading. You can also read some reviews of this panel on Comic Book Resources and the Unofficial Apple Weblog.
What strikes me (after a brief skim) is that some old school comic book creators are having difficulty knowing whether to fully embrace the new media. It reminds me of something that Elisabeth Eisenstein said in her seminal book the Printing Press as an Agent of Change, about the problems that occur with a change from one media to another. Eisenstein (1979) proposed that the complications arise because a new technology is being used at a time when old consumption methods are still dominant (p. 130). For example, the exquisite hand-rendered illuminations of manuscript books were not easy to replicate in print. In order to satisfy the reader who had become accustomed to beautifully illustrated books, printers were forced to either add illustrations by hand after printing or resort to crude woodblock prints. Both methods were unsatisfactory attempts at copying what
had been perfected in an old technology.
So perhaps that is where we are at with comics on the iPhone: using old behaviour methods on a new technology. I wonder what the future holds? Will we change our comic reading behaviour to embrace them on a handheld device?
One other interesting link I have found is to a digital comic called Ruben & Lullaby that allows users to change the path of the story by touching the iPhone screen in various ways:”shaking makes them angry, stroking makes them sad”. One review on the app store says that it doesn’t live up to the promise, but I look forward to experience more of this sort of storytelling. You can watch a preview on Youtube.