It’s a little over a week until I’m at SxSW to talk about Online Comics with Richard Bruning (DC Comics), Ron Richards (iFanboy.com), and comic artist Rivkah. Richard is providing an industry perspective, Ron a reader’s perspective, Rivkah an artists perspective, and me? Besides moderating, I’ll be providing a technical perspective on what is possible with User Interface design.
In advance of the panel, I wanted to get down some of my ideas about User Interface design and online comics for feedback from interested readers.
Based on user interface design, I separate online comics into three basic categories:
Use the page metaphor with the linear “panel” concept for sequential story telling, either using fade, slide, or even simulated page flipping to transition between virtual-pages. Often these online comics are simply scans of print comics, so they keep the same vertical aspect, which is not optimal for the generally more horizontal computer screen.
Although easily mistaken for a cartoon, these comics take existing sequential art and use a “tweening” process to create pseudo-animation. The story is still linear in nature, but becomes a more passive experience than static comics, which engage the reader to imagine the motion themselves. That said, motion comics are better suited than static images for the screen and Internet, but are still a young medium that I hope will become increasingly interactive.
These are still comics in that they use static and/or sequential art, butÂ presentedÂ in ways that break with other comic conventions in ways only possible in the online world. For example, “Shadows Never Sleep” allows the user to zoom in and out of the story, exploring the art and narrative at will. “ZoomQuilt II” breaks with theÂ traditionalÂ horizontal nature of comics, instead allowing users to zoomÂ verticallyÂ down the narrative.