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Hypertext and Comics
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Max Leibman
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Joined: 15 Apr 2001
Posts: 130
Location: Springfield, Nebraska (USA)

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2001 11:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two things on Hypertext and Comics:

First, Komikwerks just posted a short rant by yours truly about the untapped possibilities of Hyperlinks to enhance online comics, mainly focussing on the benefits to daily-strip archives. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Second, I ran into this comment on a discussion group I moderate:

"Scrolling isn't the Internet's "killer app"; hypertext is."

The poster was arguing against the virtues of the Infinite Canvas approach to comics.

Basically, I'm with McCloud (and most of this board) in thinking that Infinite Canvas compositions are well worth exploring, and will allow comics to do amazing things, but the poster is correct in his above point: the fundamental characteristic of the Internet, the thing that gives it value, is the ability to link.

So, my question to the board is this: Should Web comics look to embrace a hyperlinked structure, and put less emphasis on Infinite Canvas thinking until a more suitable medium (like the Ideal Comics Medium that John2two has been working on) comes about?

-HyperMax
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lylebclarke
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Joined: 15 Apr 2001
Posts: 59
Location: New Zealand and Denmark

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2001 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting thoughts and questions, and ones I'm ever so slowly starting to address myself.

I think linking in Webcomics will happen, almost naturally. Webcomics are still new, most are not yet two years old, and the few that are aren't daily.

Linking to subplots and first appearances of characters etc., is something that pops into the minds of both reader and artist once they have some experience and particuarly when the archives start getting big. When the archives a big, there is plenty of content to link around in.

But, and this is a tricky problem. How do you manage all these links and maintain the cartoon, and the archives, while jumping from geocities, to tripod, to angelfire, to keenspace etc. etc. From experience, I know it takes a lot of planning to set up in advance, or/and, a lot of donkey work and hindsight to organise and arrange after the fact. Or both.

But as I mentioned at the start. Most webcomics are still young. Two years, and you're an old timer, and can start being smart with your experience and doing smart things with your archives, and then, when you do start, you have five hundred strips to organise.

These problems are not insurmountable, in fact, they're very mountable, and I think many many webcomics will start doing this sort of thing, following the lead of some larger comics trying to 'add value' to a subscription, very shortly.

Cheers
Lyle
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Greg Stephens
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Joined: 14 Apr 2001
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Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2001 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, it is true that hypertext IS the web, but how can one improve on the link? I think the link, as a functional object, has already been perfected, whereas Infinite Canvas needs some development. From a strict technology standpoint, that is. In the world of comics, however, the link could stand to use some artistic development and it would be great to see some examples of how hypertext links can be used to make hypercomics.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2001 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remember the chose your own adventure books? That would be a possible hypercomic. I read that movie companies are starting to consider putting the viewer in charge of the cameras. Each camera's footage would be in the DVD and the viewer could toggle the footage as they wanted to. Interactive movies.

My only complaint about hyperlinking a comic is overlinking. Every time I see a link I think "what am I missing?" Linking to important information is good, but this is something that we authors have to be careful of.

Later,
Randy
(I seem to have lost my password)

http://www.subatomiccafe.com
If you haven't been there yet, shame on you.
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2001 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://209.221.152.197/story/

This is a good example of a hyperlinked comic. It's by Dave McKean.

Later,
Randy
http://www.subatomiccafe.com
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John2two
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Joined: 15 Apr 2001
Posts: 100
Location: Monroe, Oregon, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2001 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Max, I'm excited to see your tag here. I've been missing you and your good insights.

I agree 100% with your rant. The examples you threw out are all good ideas of ways links could add value to comics. I'd like to see more creators doing things like that.

Lyle has a good point too, about the challenges that surround trying to do good linking. Lyle doesn't sound his own horn, but he has just reworked his archives to support more flexible linking between strips with associated ideas.

But I'm wondering if the scrolling poo-pooers that you cite are missing an important subtlety. I'm not so sure that hyperlinks, per se, are the Internet's killer app. I think that the Internet's special feature is friction-free access to information.

I think the whole Infinite Canvas idea is closer to the Internet's heart than your straw man sees. Scrolling is not the essential characteristic of IC-- getting what you want when you want it with less friction is the point of IC. The IC concept extends the friction-free nature of small individual web pages to the realm of large-form complex art that can't fit into a small bite-sized page.

You could argue that IC is a response to a temporary bandwidth constraint that will ease in a few years as big pipes become ubiquitous. As a temporary workaround, it would then be less deserving of effort and support. But even in a world without bandwidth constraints (such as a blazing-fast PC opening a huge comic spread from RAMdisk to a 8000x6000 pixel display), it still seems to me like the features we're imagining for an IC environment would still make a large art work more enjoyable to read through a limited-size window than a pure HTML environment.

Just my opinion. IC or no IC, though, I agree with you that there is lots of room for creative and helpful uses of hyperlinks in comic.

John
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Max Leibman
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Joined: 15 Apr 2001
Posts: 130
Location: Springfield, Nebraska (USA)

PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2001 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your thoughts, everybody. I've been keeping up with the boards, even if I haven't had much to say lately.

Really, I'd like to see both more fully developed, but it seems that after Reinventing Comics, many are eager to start experimenting with scrolling comics (which browsers handle fairly clumsily), rather than using the wide range of information architecture strategies available (using links, which browsers and the net are built upon). It's not so much that I want to see the idea of Infinite Canvas disappear -- it's just that I want to see more hyperlinked comics. We already have the tools to do Hypertext Comics, but I don't see many people rushing to develop those ideas.

Y'know, I think I'm going to get a Sequential Art Jam out of this discussion...

-Max
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Tim Mallos
Understands reinventing


Joined: 23 Apr 2001
Posts: 354
Location: Brighton, Michigan

PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2001 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When we're talking about a linear stretch of narrative, hyperlinks & scrolling window are both imperfect technical approaches to minimize the negative impact of most users' fairly slow net connection.

Do I wait for the whole comic to load, or do I wait for each piece to load?

So, as solutions to a technical problem, they each have their merits and proponents.

Both scrolling and hyperlinks can be used to achieve different "effects" for comics. Analogous to the cinematic "cut" vs. the cinematic pan, tilt, and dolly (or even truck, if we can mess with that pesky virtual z-axis).

Cuts can be disorienting if the viewer is not given appropriate orienting cues.
It?s somewhat contrary to the visual communication education we?ve received from film and television to ?pan? to a totally different topic and scenario (unless you?re Rod Serling standing in the middle of someone?s nightmare .

I agree with other centrist posters: When evaluated as narrative devices, the debate is not really one of ?either ? or?, but ?both sometimes ? when??.

Tim



[ This Message was edited by: Tim Mallos on 2001-05-18 15:23 ]
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