Timeframing: The Art of Comics on Screens

Shredding the Temporal Map

One of the most frequently used methods for reading comics on screens today is the one popularized by the digital comics reader Comixology. This approach, called “guided view”, allows readers to step through a comic panel by panel, with animated pans from one frame to the next. While this technique makes the navigation of comics on screens easier, it also effectively puts blinders on the reader as they walk the comic’s temporal map, turning a subtle and complex storytelling device into a slideshow.

McCloud, writing years before the introduction of this approach, warns us that “To break a comic down into single pictures is to tear that map [the temporal map] to shreds—and with it, the very fabric of comics’ core identity.” It's worth noting that in Comixology and most digital comics readers, “guided view” is presented an option, to be used only if desired. Readers can still navigate pages by scaling and panning them manually, though this does take more work.

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