Timeframing: The Art of Comics on Screens

Distinguishing Between Print and Digital Comics

I’ve been making and thinking about digital comics for over thirteen years now, and just as electronic literature is a medium distinct from print literature, so too are digital comics distinct from print comics. This might sound like an obvious thing to say, but I think it’s is an important point to make because while the audio, visual, and interactive affordances of e-lit make it easy to distinguish from print literature, a huge amount what we think of as comic-ness is bound up in the visual, and as a result, digital comics, which share a lot of visual language with their print counterparts, are often seen simply as augmented print comics, print comics plus, and this attitude tends to obscure both the potential and the unique characteristics of the medium.

So in this talk I’m going to dig into the most significant distinguishing feature between print and digital comics, and that’s time. I’m doing this from the point of view of someone who is primarily a maker, in the hope that both makers and researchers will see something here that intrigues them enough to explore this medium more fully. Basically, with this talk I want to point at digital comics and say “Hey, there are formal, aesthetic, and creative characteristics here that remain relatively unexplored — let’s change that.”

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