OS POSITIVOS

scrolling an appearance

Terminando (?) o ciclo de académicos sobreposto às adendas, damos um salto quantitativo de volta a finais de 2017 com uma proposta muito em dia por Côme Martin in "With, Against or Beyond Print? Digital Comics in Search of a Specific Status" 27 Set 2017: a procura da especificidade digital para lá da sua relação ao papel. O resumo em acelerado da coisa: onde se define pela herança do print, onde pode ir além desse.


I


A scholar must question the blind spots of his discipline

Digital comics today are still mostly conceived with the printed medium, and (...) this is problematic.

What are digital comics? It seems naïve to pretend to be able to precisely define what digital comics are. Anthony Rageul: "Digital comics don’t have the same substance as comics do, but are not another known medium either, they are therefore a new medium".

Digital works can be read on a computer screen, on a tablet or a Smartphone, each device changing our way of reading them: they are available as digitized books in PDF format, EPUB files, a form augmented by the addition of different medias, as downloadable applications or as websites.

However, there is one constant in all these forms: no matter if they are adaptations, transpositions or creations, because they are designated as ‘digital comics’ these works cannot completely be separated from the printed medium which preceded them and which, in many cases still, locks ontological questions in a fake duality between print and digital.

Because digital comics cannot distance themselves from the printed page, whether they are thought of in its continuity or its opposition, they cannot claim to be part of a fully-fledged medium. To reach this status, it is probably necessary to determine what is specific to digital comics.

Many digital comics frequently resort to skeuomorphism, a digital reproduction of printed comics most salient aspects. This shows a deference of digital comics to print: some scholars see in digital comics only a technological variation of pre-existent means of distribution.
Should digital comics move away from print to earn their own place? Are digital comics lacking a masterpiece that could establish their legitimacy?

It is difficult to know whether somewhere in the depths of digital space, a work like this doesn’t already exist, since there are so many. What digital comics lack, in fact, are maybe not the masterpieces that could be brandished as ideal examples of its singularity, but scholars and critics able to find them.

Should they exploit the potentialities of digital art and offer interactivity, moving images, new formats to gain their independence?
Côme Martin in "With, Against or Beyond Print? Digital Comics in Search of a Specific Status" 27 Set 2017


II


Most of our digital reading practices, including reading digital comics, borrow from the skeuomorphic image of the book. The form of the printed book is in fact reproduced both in the digital book’s appearance, and its navigation.

Many contemporary works, whatever their form (from webcomics to apps), continue to imitate formats unsuitable for a computer screen, which is a horizontal rectangle whereas the page is most often a vertical one. The page is already harmed when comics are republished in a different format [but] things get more complicated when one faces the screen of a tablet which can rotate and thus present the reader with layouts that are more or less (in)complete.

Anthony Rageul: The terms 'digital comics' are still used to improperly refer to traditional comics which have been digitized, with a more or less significant effort of adaptation, for a distribution in a digital format, and which we should simply call digitized comics.

Thierry Groensteen: The web publishing of a comic originally intended to be read on the printed page can, then, prove to be inadequate and damaging to the format of the work by forcing it to fit into a frame of arbitrary size and shape that bears no relation to its original proportions.

Julien Baudry: one formal constant in comics distributed in the 2000s, it is their heavy debt to the narrative and graphic norms of printed comics.

There are exceptions. Two of them seem to have become generalized systems. a) On the one hand, monopanel navigation has developed into different variants. b) On the other hand, scrolling navigation is divided between vertical scrolling and horizontal scrolling.
Côme Martin in "With, Against or Beyond Print? Digital Comics in Search of a Specific Status" 27 Set 2017


III


Digital comics are not necessarily positioned against printed comics to claim their specificity. However, some critics, scholars, creators and distributors frequently use words such as ‘innovative’, ‘unique’ or synonyms about those comics, as if they could only exist as novelties.

Elsa Caboche: The way digital comics want to add multimedia devices presents a serious problem: it adds new perceptive dimensions to a medium which doesn’t need them to tell a story. Sounds, movement, cut scenes or playability run the risk of turning comics into something they’re not: a cartoon, a clip or a video game.

Of course, those are only problems if one considers comics to be mainly narrative, which is another discussion entirely.

Completamente...

Two possibilities that digital technology offers comics and which don’t seem to be borrowed from other medias: 1) infinite canvas 2) appearance.

1) To use the infinite canvas is to remember that the screen (tactile or not) is only a virtual one, contrary to those that the printed form imposes, and that its porous limits can and should be questioned.

2) The appearance devices also use the very nature of the digital screen. What is at stake here is the surface of the screen, the fugacity of any content displayed since a click or a tap can make this content disappear.

One doesn’t navigate through but on a digital work: in contrast with print content, which one can touch, digital content remains protected behind a screen whose surface can only be brushed. For digital comics to be separated from printed comics [they must] offer their reader, thanks to a technology yet to be invented, the possibility to wander and get lost, deeply, into the works.
Côme Martin in "With, Against or Beyond Print? Digital Comics in Search of a Specific Status" 27 Set 2017

Pelo meio subentende-se uma terceira especificidade aos dois destacados que queremos dar a relevância que também merece: o scroll e o aparece/desaparece da fugacidade do display só podem ter sentido se considerarmos o próprio ecrã. Por outras palavras, o painel tradicional é agora mais versátil, podendo (ou não) coincidir com o do aparelho em mãos ou ser dinâmico: 3) monitor/ecrã/viewport/constrangimento de enquadramento exterior à bd.

The humongous image remains circumscribed in a panel too small for it, which underlines how important frames (and framing) are in comics
Côme Martin in "With, Against or Beyond Print? Digital Comics in Search of a Specific Status" 27 Set 2017

Neste momento podemos e devemos introduzir os seus comentários ao formato "turbomedia", "a form of comics close to the slide show", mas dar-lhe-emos uma maior atenção numa próxima oportunidade.

Malec: Turbomedia it’s totally different from printed comics, there is no printed version of turbomedia.


# # #


E de "wander and get lost, deeply, into the works", as duas últimas adendas em digital comics via app. Scroll (horizontal) e aparecimentos? Propostas de masterpieces que se escondem nos depths of digital space:

Chris Ware’s iPad-Only Comic "Touch Sensitive" 2 set 2016 - originalmente 2011

"Originalmente 2011": porque a app original saiu de store, foi necessário criar nova. E quando o Chris não quiser mais pagar a licença anual para manter a nova na store da Apple para que a possas descarregar gratuítamente, guess what?

Marietta Ren’s "Phallaina" for tablets and smartphone. 28 jan 2016

Totalmente retirado de contexto, apetece-nos terminar com uma citação a propósio de bolhas que rebentam, dada a distância que separa a open web de silos fechados, e do potencial de possibilidades que se encerram a cada ciclo, mas permitem um novo:

I’m jealous that they’ll experience it all: the crash, the rejection, and then the slow rebuild as they learn the difference between toys and tools. They get to participate in the screaming edge of culture.
in "Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous" 9 mar 2017

semantics