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#240592 - 03/30/99 03:29 PM breaking away
cayetano Offline
Member

Registered: 03/29/99
Posts: 334
Loc: la frontera
hello everyone,

i felt compelled to create a new topic here because of the fact that i think the "online comics" movement has more to do with ideas and less with media. although joe has made some interesting points about the considerations of media in comics and how the computer facilitates their usage, these are part of the PROCESS of creation rather than the true innovations which this technology has provided us...at least as far as i can tell. i hope this isn't inconvenient to the forum.

there are many considerations to be made when talking about "computer generated" or "computer based" comics. first of all, defining what "comics" really is. there has been a lot of debate over this (the result of which created this thread) and i'm sure it will continue for a good long while and may NEVER be completely decided (but then again "what is ART" hasn't either, so...).

more specifically (and since this thread is entitled "Online Comics") let me share a little of what i've proposed on the Comics Journal discussion board of the same name recently:

"defining what is truly "innovative" about web comics is definitely a tricky subject. at first glance, a comic that is 16 feet long if it were to be printed might not seem like a real innovation to most people, but we tend to forget that is hard to adhere to the
"rules" of what defines comics as COMICS and still adapt them to the web. some of the more publicized "webcomics" projects like Gary Panter's [at the Cartoon Network webpage] are hardly a good example of this since they tend to teeter on the edge of being animation. animation is NOT comics, although web comics CAN use animation to represent movement... it's all very tricky and i've experimented a LOT with my own weekly online strips using the innovations that the web provides (sound, interactivity, animation, javascript, etc.) and still trying to make COMICS (however unsuccessful my attempts might ultimately be). A 16 foot comic strip IS innovative in that you have a 15 inch squared (or so) space in which to view an infinite canvas full of images and words juxtaposed (which Scott McCloud explains in the "welcome" section of his page). but this only scratches the surface of what can be done with comics on the web...

"cybercomics" aren't anywhere near their full potential and many of us are still figuring out what we can and can't do. browser compatibility, download speeds, and internet traffic have proven to be obsticles, too. most of all, trying to create something that is still COMICS by definition when so many limitless possibilities are available can definitely prove to be a challange. it will be really interesting to see what the next couple years will yield as more and more cartoonists explore this brave new world. with the industry in the throes of death, the internet may provide a window of opportunity for many who seek to continue to create comics and redefine what they are...and aren't."

a lot of really interesting points have been brought up at the CJ "online comics" thread and if you'd like to check out a little more do so here

one of my favorite sections in Understanding Comics is when the narrator (or Scott, i guess) talks about the unlimited potential of comics as a medium and the untapped possibilities yet to come. suddenly, we stand upon that threshold.

basically we now have the technology to do virtually ANYTHING we want with comics. where do we go from here? and how far CAN we go with the result still being "comics" and not something else?
_________________________
cayetano "cat" garza jr.
oh, you're that magic inkwell guy!
http://www.moderntales.com

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#240593 - 03/30/99 05:16 PM Re: breaking away
Joe Zabel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Cayetano, you said 'how far CAN we go with the result still being "comics" and not something else?'

That definition of 'comics' is a stumbling block for artists who are on the frontiers of the new online art forms. For example, on the 'online comics' thread on the comic book board, Mark Badger said, 'Read the stories, if their any good, then develop a definition for the technique. Lets not put the cart before the horse anymore.'

It's good advice, but I'd rather start imagining what's going to be possible 10 years down the road.

I don't think a definition should be employed to hold artists back, saying, 'You can't do that, it's not comics.' At its heart comics is a 'collage' artform-- the internet provides infinite possibilities of how to build that collage, and what to put into it.

At the same time, traditional comics is still a vital and growing artform. Trying to take what's special about that and transport it into an online environment while keeping it 'pure' is a worthwhile pursuit-- don't let any of these teckies tell you differently!

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Joe Zabel
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Joe Zabel

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#240594 - 03/30/99 11:55 PM Re: breaking away
bcbailey Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/99
Posts: 47
Hey guys, I'm a new guy on the block. Great to be here disussing comics.

Joe, you hit the nail right on the head when you said that definitions of comics are holding back artists who are trying new things. I experienced this firsthand just last night. Let me elaborate...

First of all, as of right now my web strip, Huzzy Hamster (no plug intended) sticks pretty close to the standard definition of comics. It has speech balloons, iconic characters, sequential storytelling, etc. Heck, it's even a 'funny animal' strip. The main thing that distiguishes it signifigantly from a print strip is that I use various digital effects and coloring for it, and I developed the 'aesthetic' of it to fit the context of the web.

But, I've started experimenting a bit. I still plan on doing my 'standard' strips, but I also want to mess around and try to push the digital envelope a little.

So last night I started to develop what is essentially a digital 'collage' (I can't really explain it, it's a mis-mash of digital imagery with e.e.cummings type text). After a while I started to question myself 'I dig doing this stuff, but IS IT COMICS?'.

Thus a perfect example of how the hypothetical defintion of comics can chain us creatively. The best thing for an artist to do is follow their muse and put the technicalities aside.

The problem of creative roadblocks are not new to comics, they've been around since comics' inception, whether the trouble was that comics were 'low art' or 'just superhero crap' or 'kid's stuff'. The difference between those and the 'cybercomic' problem is that now the fundamental structure of our art form is challenging us. Questions abound like: 'If it has sound and animation, is it comics?', 'Do digital imaging techiques have the same merit as good old ink and paper?', 'If it's a totally abstract compostion of non-sequential pictures and text, can it still be comics?'.

To me, comics are basically a combination of words and pictures that communicate a story or concept. Since it combines the written word and visual element, the two vital components of expression, it can be one of the greatest forms of communication and art. A form of art that can be used in a great variety of ways, shapes, and forms.

Was that experiment I was developing last night a comic? It depends on your definition. Will many of the experimental cybercomics of the web be true comics? Again, depends on the definiton. Maybe they will be something entirely different. All I know is whether they are or not, just the exciting feel of something new and innovative reminds me of the first time I read a comic by Herriman or Kirby.

B.C. Bailey

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#240595 - 03/31/99 12:48 AM Re: breaking away
Joe Zabel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Great comics, BC! I linked to it by looking at your profile-- you should put a link in one of your messages and encourage folks to check it out! [img]/resources/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

My online comic doesn't incorporate any interesting features; in fact, Bebe Williams just scans direct from the published comics and posts it 6 days a week. But it's been running for years, so consider me a veteran (ahem!) It's at
http://www.artcomic.com/montage.html
. I also have an interactive story (a primitive multimedia comic, in effect) at my home page,
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Atrium/8576

You are now leaving the plugging zone...

Let us know when you've finished that digital 'collage,' ok?


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Joe Zabel



[This message has been edited by joezabel (edited 03-30-99).]
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Joe Zabel

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#240596 - 03/31/99 10:18 AM Re: breaking away
cayetano Offline
Member

Registered: 03/29/99
Posts: 334
Loc: la frontera
hey joe and hey bc (nice to see you here!!!)

now, see joe, that's one of the things i'm talking about right there. we don't have to just scan the work in and slap it up like in the past. that's part of the old way of thinking. of course, i'm not knocking your work, i've been a fan for a long time! [img]/resources/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

however, we now have (with computers, the internet, and other software) the ability to take our art a step beyond (or at least to the side) of that. that's one thing i've tried doing in the process of maintaining my weekly strip (another inadvertant plug, oh well). of course, worrying about whether or not it's "comics" by definition is pointless because, yes it does hinder your process, but it IS a consideration to be taken into account in any artistic endeavor- whether or not it meets or expands the criterion of a given means of communication. by experimenting (and failing, too) we push and stretch the boundaries of what can be defined "comics". the internet has provided a unique and wonderful place to do that cheaply, quickly, and effectively.

more importantly, i think the biggest consideration in creating ANYTHING, is how well we convey our message. the message or idea is the core, the rest springs up around it as best it can.

cayetano
_________________________
cayetano "cat" garza jr.
oh, you're that magic inkwell guy!
http://www.moderntales.com

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#240597 - 03/31/99 12:09 PM Re: breaking away
Joe Zabel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Caytano--

I've looked at your great series before; took a look at the latest, which is a really cool photo-story; wish there were more of that kind of story, which I think is a real untapped possibility in comics! [img]/resources/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

You said, 'we don't have to just scan the work in and slap it up like in the past. that's part of the old way of thinking.'

The 'old way' still is so rich with unexplored possibilities that I personally don't have any creative problems with pursuing it. Of course, I don't have the technology to do anything more fancy. But just as we should not be setting up barriers to animation and sound, so also, we should not be setting up barriers to simply using the internet as a distribution system beyond compare for showcasing the 'old way' of telling a story with comics.

Check out my interactive mystery thriller for a crude (but provocative?) example of looking at things the new way!

------------------
Joe Zabel
_________________________
Joe Zabel

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#240598 - 03/31/99 12:10 PM Re: breaking away
Joe Zabel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Cayetano-- Sorry for misspelling your handle, above!

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Joe Zabel
_________________________
Joe Zabel

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#240599 - 03/31/99 05:09 PM Re: breaking away
cayetano Offline
Member

Registered: 03/29/99
Posts: 334
Loc: la frontera
hey joe!

no problem about the handle, really. [img]/resources/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

i've checked out your story before and it's really great. another untapped possibility- the interactive story. i'm actually working on a larger, more extended form story that will put that to use very soon.

before we get too involved here, let me just first say that I STILL DRAW ALL MY IMAGES and PANELS ON PAPER AND SCAN THEM INTO THE COMPUTER BEFORE PLAYING AROUND WITH THEM IN PHOTOSHOP AND USING HTML TO LAY THEM OUT. unlike Scott, i don't have a drawing tablet yet and my work isn't 100% digital. i don't want people to get the wrong idea or anything. [img]/resources/ubb/wink.gif[/img]

now, as far as this is concerned...

i've had a couple of involved conversations with Scott about the use of scanned in artwork versus drawing directly on the computer. in defence of my still drawing everything by hand, i tend to think that drawing ability, and maybe "talent" (which is an arbitrary term because there are a lot of "talented" cartoonists out there that won't see publication because of the lack of drive and ambition/motivation), still factor in BIG when dealing with the creation of visual art. computers have opened up the opportunity to automate a lot of things that would have taken us FOREVER to do the old way and i'm sure that i'll probably never have to buy paper or pens again once i get a drawing tablet, but i still think ability is important, no matter what.

i agree with you about using photography, painting, drawing, as well as computer aided graphics to produce internet/computer comics is vital and in many ways a vast new territory to explore and conquer.

plus, i have this technical pen that i just LOVE to use and wouldn't give it up for the world...sigh!

cayetano
_________________________
cayetano "cat" garza jr.
oh, you're that magic inkwell guy!
http://www.moderntales.com

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#240600 - 04/04/99 04:20 AM Re: breaking away
savage Offline
Member

Registered: 11/24/98
Posts: 1007
Loc: Minneapolis,MN USA
OK....I'm probably a bit hard nosed on this one. I think animation is animation and comics are comics and if you have a comic that's half animation it isn't either. It's something else all together. Whether you want to call it a cybercomic or "multimedia" (like all of those CD roms do) is totally up to you. Heh...but then ignoring my stupid opinions is up to you as well. [img]/resources/ubb/wink.gif[/img]

I guess I'm not real fond of muddying the definition of comics anymore than it already is. Using the internet to add to your presentation is a neat idea. (Like the scrolling you have to do on Scott McCloud's or Matt Feazell's sites.) I'm not even talking about alternate endings or "pick a path" type stuff. It's when it starts moving and talking that I start wanting a new term. Maybe we could use "comics" for the traditional panel to panel, "Cybercomic" for the scrolling and pick a path type stuff? The other partially animated/talking stuff is probably lumped in "Interactive Multimedia". This term also encompases everything on the web and most things on CD Rom. I don't know if there would be a term for it that could be more specific.

Then there are things like Argon Zark which kind of skirt the edges. However, the interactive effects (in the first story at least) are mostly window dressing. You can print it as a book and it still makes sense. Maybe that could be the line between cyber comics and the dreaded "interactive multimedia" (Please someone come up with a better term for it....) If you can't reproduce the effect in print its probably not a comic.

As to what anybody uses to make these things. I really don't think it matters. I use a computer with a scanner and a wacom tablet for some things, a brush and paint for others, and I mix and match as the mood hits me. I'd just like to know what the hell I should call what I'm making...heh heh.



------------------
Justin Savage
President/Editor/Web-bozo
Sabre's Edge
www.sabresedge.com
_________________________
Justin Savage
President/Editor/Web-bozo
www.sabresedge.com

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#240601 - 04/04/99 10:43 AM Re: breaking away
bcbailey Offline
Member

Registered: 03/30/99
Posts: 47
Hey joe and cayetano, sorry I'm responding to your posts a little late, but I couldn't access this thread the other day (see the 'breaking away seems to be blank' thread.)

First of all, thanks for your compliments on my comic, Joe. I put off excessive plugging until I had my domain name, and now that I have it, I put it the bottom of all my posts. Checked out and enjoyed your work too. Now I can see why you defend realism, you're quite good at a realistic rendering style!

I agree with cayetano that cartoonists that make comics for the web should take advantage of that medium. I also agree with Joe that the old way is still rich with possibilities (cartoonists like Bill Watterson and Chris Ware prove that), but all artists should take advantage of their format. Painters take advantage of the possibilities of paint, photographers the possibilities of the camera, and like wise cartoonists working in a digital medium should utilize the inherent characteristics of the net and digital art.

This doesn't mean that every web comic has to blaring with sound and animation, just that the cartoonist should have in mind the format he's working in and conform his aesthetics and storytelling to that format.

cayetano, I'm in the same camp with you in jumping into this digital revolution, but still drawing most of my line art by hand. I just love the feel of my Winsor & Newton sable brush, so much that I never felt the need to spare the bucks on a wacom tablet. Who knows, maybe I'll take that plunge one day, but I'll probably always use traditional methods for one reason or another, even if it's just for fun.

B.C. Bailey
www.huzzy.com

[This message has been edited by bcbailey (edited 04-04-99).]

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