Scott McCloud talks about the future shape of comics

Reinventing Comics

Comics smart guy Scott McCloud speaks on Ted Talks about the future shape of comics. It’s basically stuff that’s in his book Reinventing Comics, wherein he talks about applying comics onto an “infinite canvas” with the use of digital technology.

This was written way back in the late 90s and despite the proliferation of webcomics, digital comics won’t be replacing the printed page anytime soon. Granted that comic scans are now widely available, the format still makes use of the printed page and doesn’t adapt the content to the peculiarities of the digital medium.


Comics geeks interested in formalist comics experiments may also find the work of Daniel Merlin Goodbrey very interesting. I studied his work in preparation for my thesis and this particular hypercomics piece blew me away when I first saw it.


Hypercomics Detail

I became interested in how comics could tell non-linear stories. The way the images were composed also reminded me of Chris Ware‘s work, another comics genius.

image courtesy of Picture Poetry

Imagine my surprise when I found out Goodbrey was a speaker at the Comica Festival when I was there for the Lingua Comica Project. He presented his work in hypercomics and this piece in particular.

Goodbrey presenting his work during the Comica Festival. Image courtesy of Linguacomickers

Inside one of the conference rooms of the ICA
Inside one of the conference rooms of the ICA. Image courtesy of Linguacomickers
My co-collaborator Paola Cortese and I sitting inside the conference room

I found out it was a collaborative project created for the wall of the Institute of Contemporary Arts as part of a previous Comica Festival. Goodbrey applied McCloud’s concept of an infinite canvas through the use of a flash-based zooming system called theĀ Tarquin Engine.

Another web based comic is When I Am King, created by demian5. The piece has been in the internet for ages. It’s irreverent and nonsensical but a pretty fun read.

Comics in the Digital Age

As we move into the future, even more printed content will migrate to the digital world. Already, economic and technological upheavals are changing the face of publishing (read’s article on “Books Gone Wild: The Digital Age reshapes literature”). In Japan, “novels” are being created and read on mobile phones. Now, there’s a comic reader application for the iPhone. Even an established traditional comic publisher like DC Comics has established their own webcomics division called Zuda Comics.

Now, I don’t know what comics will be like in the future. I, for one, still like reading it the old fashioned way – printed on paper. That way you can smell the pages and curl up with in bed. But make no mistake, the future will come one way or the other.