Category Archives: Theory

Sometimes the mainstream can get it right – part one

After a couple of obliquely negative posts which reference some deficiencies in what could be called the “popular face of hypercomics”*, it may be worth pointing out where companies with more resources and clout than us poor schmucks have tried actually gotten the thing right – at least a little (we’re admittedly in a gray area of “comics” so it’s all by degrees here anyway).

In terms of comics form, the Watchmen thing is an admitted disaster. It’s a shame that Warner decided to shred apart a highwatermark of mainstream comics. It’s not anything new, though. This kind of thing has been done to comics before, and done just as poorly ( has taken down the travesty of form that was their “motion comic” for the Episode One adaptation but, Ye-Gad that was terrible). But let’s also look to Dark Horse’s repurposing of a Hellboy short for an example of a more understated technique.

We have some of the same features here: cut-up panels, clunky pseudoanimation, annoying score (well, if you can call that a score…), standard fare for this type of thing. But these elements are also used in subtler ways. Voiceovers are left out, preserving the reader’s own “inner voice.” Likewise, sound effects are left to be expressed by text. Something of a sequential panel layout is preserved – and it’s even purposed in a web-friendly format. The big difference, though, is the click-through navigation. The next panel or series of panels won’t appear until you click and tell them to appear. Unlike the Watchmen and Star Wars fiascos, this puppy is read. That’s a major distinction, in my book. That make this a hypercomic and not just bad animation.

There’s a different in intent here. The Watchmen thing is an act of pure hype. Fans have already decided whether or not they’ll watch the movie. What Mignola and Dark Horse did with Hellboy: The Varcolac is more akin to the type of web experiments that we want to attempt, I think.

It’s not a perfect, sure. I’ve got my nitpicks. Sometimes experiments fail.

But it’s nice that someone out there in the mainstream at least made an attempt.

*(my inference only here, Neal)


An Incomplete Manifesto

Just the raving madness of a man who can’t sleep because of all the ideas in his head. I’ll type this up sometime tomorrow. Until then, enjoy my handwriting! 🙂

Hypercomics: An Incomplete Manifesto

1. Hypercomics will never take itself too seriously and become pretentious and snobby.

2. The very nature of making comics, sequential art or visual language- whatever term you choose to use- is labor intensive.  Therefore, why waste time making comics that will be universally loved and accepted by a mass audience?

Instead, Hypercomics will make work that matters to the artists and both content and form will follow the interests of the artists.

3. Definitions are to be tested, tweaked, refined and even proven wrong.

Just because Scott McCloud says it is so, does not make it so.  It just so happens that Scott is a nice guy who is rooting for artists to innovate with the medium.  He writes well and in great volume, but just because he is the only intellectual mind wring eloquently about comics, does not mean that his theories should not be turned on their proverbial heads and smashed into new theories.

4. Webcomics do not need to be confined to grids or “pages” as in print comics.

True, the web is a great place to distribute comics that work just as well in print, but the web is also a place where comics can be published that would be impossible to to print and still be legible due to their shear sprawl and scale.

Circular comics should be tried (see 5 Ways to Love a Cockroach)

McCloud’s “The Right Number” is another example of the web’s potential influence on comics.

Hypercomics shall seek to try every alley of presentation that the web has to offer.

Defining Hypercomics

So should we try to come up with some kind of working definition for Hypercomics?  I’m not quite sure what one is.

I think the definition should be fluid at this point, but I just want something to hold on to while I try to develop new work.

Exploring Romare Bearden’s Work Using Flash

Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden

I know this isn’t quite a “comic”, but I thought it might be a good jumping off point for someone. You can explore this collage with the little Flash program. Its pretty cool!

testing waters…

Got this link the other day:

You could say it’s a blend of a Homestarrunner video game and Castlezzt, but more interactive.