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Introduction

  • 9 Basic elements:
    1. Comics as Literature
    2. Comics as Art
    3. Creators’ Rights
    4. Industry Innovation
    5. Public Perception
    6. Institutional Scrutiny
    7. Gender Balance
    8. Minority Representation
    9. Diversity of Genre
  • Progress in most of the above area during the 90s.
  • The most serious threats comics faces now are the loss of new talent and new readers.
  • To reach its full potential, both as an art form and as a market, comics must expand its territory.
  • Comics needs to be more visible among other art forms and media.
  • Comics needs to appeal to basic human needs and desires which it can begin by meeting a much broader audience.
  • 3 components focused on potential of digital delivery:
    1. Digital Production : the creation of comics with digital tools
    2. Digital Delivery : the distribution of comics in digital form
    3. Digital Comics: the evolution of comics in a digital environment

Part 1


Setting Course

Comics as Literature
  • Graphic novels and comics books.
  • Can be serious work, depicting life experience, with sincere exploration and storytelling potential
  • From periodicals (temporary worth) to books (permanent worth)
  • With depth and subtlety
  • Comics viewed as lacking the ability to handle layers of meaning (subtext) within story
  • New comics strategy to help double life emerge visually
  • Simple, accessible style but with symbolic meaning. Ex. Lutes’ Jar of Fools and Spiegelman’s Maus
  • Maus has narrative style of storytelling
  • Symbols are to echo with one another that relate to central theme, not just metaphors
  • Length and narrative density – how much information is delivered in each page / panel
  • Comics need improvement on breadth with more diverse subjects and viewpoints
  • Challenge of realism
  • Simple lines for real human society and everyday life experience through rhythm; real life sensibility
  • Comics’ social and political impact, emotional resonance / impact – connection between creator and reader
  • Comics as non-fiction not just fiction
  • Narrative tools

Comics as Art
  • Comics' formal artistic properties might be recognized as capable of achieving the same heigts as forms like painting or sculpture
  • Comics as medium of expression
  • Instead of objects and products, look at art as process of human behavior
  • Overcome that arbitrary naming boundary
  • Through physical presence such as larger size, and unusual shape and material combined with appreciation such as linkage
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Negative Land

Creators’ Rights

  • A lot of young artists see the comics industry as beyond their control, in many ways it is, but the control that system has over them only extends as far as their desire to be a part of it.
  • Some ask for simplest commerce and remain in complete control. Most relinquish some of that control to meet larger audience and earn more pay.
  • How much of those is what creators’ rights is about
  • It was hardly creative freedom since the Great Depression
  • Lopsided agreements with publishers, slim page rate regardless of how well the work sold, editorial interference, no say in licensing, poor share of profits
  • Unsuccessful negotiation and reforms only in terms of publishers’ self interests: more publishers and therefore more demand for artists and writers or demand of popular individual creators
  • Attempt to organize freelancers; small publishers inspired by undergrounds began to emerge, offering high levels of ownership and control to creators
  • A generational shift from those who had fought to improve within the mainstream to those who chose the independents (retain copyright and trademark)
  • The revolution of self-publishing, attractive but also intimidating (packing boxes and filling out invoices)
  • Among creators’ thirteen rights: the right to full ownership, full control over creative execution, employ legal counsel in any transactions, prompt payments of a fair and equitable share of profits
  • Creators already had the power to control their destinies if they didn’t sign it away
  • comics creators might gain more control over the fate of their creations and a fair financial stake in them
    Industry Innovation
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* Ignorance originated in convenience and newspaper comics
  • Subset status comparing to other media
  • Rebirth after 35 years as comic books but still subset, another 40 years for dedicated comics stores and direct market
  • Four effects of traditional production – increased complexity, modification of the original, reduced profit per-unit and changes by the creator in reaction to the system; from individual to publisher then retailer.
  • Market driving by money narrowing styles, subject matter and themes.
  • Corporate systems abandon both creators and readers.
  • Not direct market but because the economy of scales of large reject small innovations
  • So must reinvent the business of comics to reflect the will of both creators and readers.
  • the business of comics might be reinvented so as to better serve producder and consumer


Community standards

Public Perception
  • Perception affects who will enter comics, as reader or creator.
  • the public perception of comics could be improved to at least acknowledge the potential of the form and be prepared to recognize
  • Sound effects and campy dialogue; comics are just for kids, comics are not art
  • Stereotypes as dimly-lit (lack of literacy), cultish, “no-gurlz-allowed”
  • Prospective customers have to go through three hurdles: media ignorance, shortsighted sellers, and the page (comics’ unique visual language)
  • The Comics Code that imposed severest restrictions and perpetuates stereotype of comics
  • Perception matters, and charges of obscenity
  • Financial impact for the industry struggling to gain stability and public acceptance, aesthetic impact for the publishers and creator unable to push comics into “good taste” and “good art,” and personal impact for the retailers and their families in terms of seizures, closings, and legal warning
  • Comics censorship strongly affects public mind

Institutional Scrutiny
  • Insititutions of higher learning and the law could overcome popular prejudice and treat comics with an even hand
  • Besides laws including obscenity laws and tax policy, institutions such as universities, museums and libraries have lasting impact on comics. And positive impacts are beginning to take root.


Big World

  • More diverse creators to earn more diverse audience; limiting job opportunity is limiting story content
Gender Balance
  • comics could appeal to more than just boys and be made by more than just men
  • Narrow industry attitudes, disadvantages of starting small, and blind prejudice
  • “boys club,” leaving out the potential of female creators and audience, ex. superheroes
  • There have been female creators, but they are still minority in the industry
  • Different take on art form and life in general make female creators important in increasing comics’ diversity and breadth
  • Obstacles remain: unwelcoming boy’s club image of the comics stores, publishers, and male creators
  • Alternative through organizations and collective publishing

Minority Representation
  • comics could appeal to and be made by more than just straight white upper-middle class males
  • Similar to gender issue but different in that there can be no interaction with minority, therefore isolation, and affects comics’ diversity and breadth to a greater extent than gender issue, ex. limited experience or distorted view of minority in comics
  • Multicultural heroes, creators; gay and lesbian comics though collective efforts
Diversity of Genre
  • comics was capable of handling a wide variety of genres, not just adolescent power fantasies
  • A result of two previous revolutions, similar obstacles, ex. only superheroes
  • Others such as autobiographical, confessional style / parody, naturalistic fiction, fantasy, erotic, crime, romance are categories that many comics belong to in name, but not necessarily in spirit.
  • Superheroes comics are all detective, power, musclebund anatomy, exaggerated depths of field; stylistic rules governing story structure, page composition and drawing style
  • Limited resource known as shelf space combined with struggling business environment lead to a single genre in time
  • Deconstructing the genre, breaking the rules through individual efforts
  • Demonstration in the postwar Japanese and European comics markets


Part 2 catching a wave



The thing about tools

-Whirlwind computer:
  • one of the old vacuum tube computer, built by M.I.T researchers at Lincoln Labs. around 1950
  • It grew to use over 12000 vacuum tubes and 20,000diodes.
  • inhabiting 3100 square feet on two floors. The largest and most powerfull computer of the Earth ( at the time
- every seven years, computers were becoming ten times as powerfull

- Moore's Law:
  • ReasercherGordon Moore predicted on 1965 that the circuit density of semiconductors would double every year and a half

Through the door


The frictionless economy


The infinite canavas

Digital Comics
  • McCloud revisits his definition of Comics from Understanding Comics.
  • While historically, many ancient carvings and paintings are considered comics, it was only with the advent of printing that brought about the familiar elements of comics we recognize today (panels, protocol of reading, captions, etc).
  • Digital comics can be delivered online or through objects like CD's however this is nothing more than "repurposed" print.
  • The Digital Age is allowing convergence of all mediums, such that the art is no longer defined by the form/technology that once held it.
  • This is where it becomes extremely important to understand the conceptual distinctions between differing forms of art.
  • An important addition to the definition of comics is the temporal map (i.e. how a comics artist measure time).
  • 2 questions we need to ask: What things can comics do in a digital environment? Which of those options will prove valuable in the long run?
  • With regards to the first question, initially sound, motion and interactivity were added to comics on CD's to make them come alive, however they were often displayed one panel at a time (due to low resolution) and the essential temporal component vanished.
  • Another important note to make concerns the value of adding other effects to comics. Comics will never be able to compete with other audio/visual artforms such as film or potential Virtual Reality.
  • An alternate route to take would be to search for new forms that preserve comics' silent, static nature while exploiting other capabilities of digital media.
  • One solution is to treat the sceen as a page with a link to the following page. This would require increasing image size to compensate for low resolution.
  • But this hypertexting idea (that nothing exists in spaces) goes against what comics are all about (every element of the work has a spatial relationship to every other element at all times).
  • So if we examine the pre-print sequential art, we might find a better solution.
  • The confined boxes that print forced comics into can be released with digital media (and return us to the pre-print days where adjacent images meant adjacent moments).
  • This new interpretation for digital comics can have endless effects such as creating suspense, providing a unifying identity, or diving deeper into a story, all dependant on how the comic is arranged.
  • Rather than using motion or sound found in traditional multimedia, the use of interactivity would be a crucial tool to bring comics into the digital age (ex. zooming in on a detail, choosing a path, turning the page).
  • As technology changes, so will the direction that comics takes in the future.