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Is This A Comic? Audience Experience

Previously, we’ve been trying to nail down a better way to define “comic” or “comics.” This led me to the creation of the Four Criteria: Intent of the Creator, Audience Experience, Synthesis & Closure, and The Use of Visual Language. Only when all four are met would I consider something to be a comic. Last month, we took a closer look at Creator Intent (which I’ll admit is the weakest of the four and the hardest to explain at this point in time). For our purposes for now, let’s just say that Creator Intent means that comics don’t happen by accident, but are purposefully created. This brings us to the second Criteria, Audience Experience.

While each of the other criteria directly affect how the work is made and almost solely rely on the choices the creator of the work makes, this is the one criteria that has very little to do with the creator. I propose that Audience Experience means that a comic must be experienced by the audience in a very particular way in the work’s original published iteration.

Warren Ellis once said that comics are unique because when you read a comic, you “come in alone.” What Ellis meant by that was comics are, by nature, meant to be read by an individual. Comics are not a medium that a group experiences together. Unlike movies, television, or even galley shows, comics are meant to be experienced individually. Granted, more than one person can read a comic, but people do not read comics together.

There is a very simple reason for this, that I think is at the core of my Audience Experience Criteria. People read at different rates. I think the key of Audience Experience is the fact the individual is controlling the rate at which they experience the work.

When I read a comic, I can decide to linger on certain panels longer than others. I may choose, when I read a comic, to linger over the top panel of the page. Someone else may choose to linger over a different panel. A third person may just buzz through all the art, focusing on the text. A fourth may not give much importance to the text and instead study each and every panel on a page. Each of these four people is experiencing the same piece of work, but each is controlling their own rate of experience. If two people are reading a comic together, invariably, one will say to the other, “Are you ready?” The odds that both readers will finish a page at the same time are incredibly small. And, even if they finish one page (or screen to be scrolled through or clicked through) at the same time, there is virtually no guarantee the next page will be the same.

The power to control the rate is given to each individual audience member. Certainly the creator can use certain tools (which we’ll talk about in depth in our section on Visual Language) to make the audience member realize different amounts of time have passed. However, how much time has passed in a comic is not the same thing as how long it takes the audience to experience it. I may read a comic in five minutes, and you may read it in ten. However, if we were both asked how much time was covered in the comic, we would both give the same answer, despite the fact that we both experienced it at different rates.

Now note, that I have said that the audience must control their rate of experience in the work’s original published iteration. There are two reasons for this. First of all, as classes about comics and gallery exhibitions of “comic art” become more and more commonplace, there are times an audience member may experience a new work en masse, as opposed to individually. The work didn’t suddenly stop being “comics” just because each page of artwork was put on a wall in a room, or it was projected on a screen for a class. However, I think this is because the work was not designed for that. The creator of a comic rarely (if ever) designs a work to be hung in a gallery or projected on a screen to a large audience. Granted, these are two very different situations and both have different impacts on how the audience experience a work.

Let’s talk about the gallery setting first. Galleries are usually full of people who walk around and look at the work presented to them. In comics, let’s assume for our example, these are individual pages of work hung on the walls in a room. In an ideal setting, a person can take all the time they want in a gallery. However, from personal experience, i’ve learned this isn’t always the case. Galleries often have crowds in them. Crowds can affect the rate of experience in two ways. The first way is if you are part of a large group or taking an official “tour” of the gallery. You may even have a tour guide or a headphone telling you things about the work. The minute you introduce any kind of outside influence to your experience, you surrender your control over the rate of experience. The guide makes those decisions for you. They may tell you to focus on a certain page or panel, and they may even skip over other pages or panels completely. Even if you do not have an official guide and are just part of a random mob of people, you may have trouble getting close enough to a piece to view it, get pushed on by the crowd before you’re done, or have to miss a piece entirely just because there’s too many people by it and you can’t see it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s really cool that galleries and the official Art World are paying attention to comic art and putting it on display. However, I don’t feel it’s the ideal or even adequate way to experience comics. The creator designed each of those panels and pages to be viewed in a sequence or pattern. In a gallery setting, there is a good chance you will not experience it that way. Not only that, but often times (less so in our digital age), pages are created in black and white with the color and even the lettering added at a later point in production. What you see on the wall of a gallery might not even be the complete comic that the creator wanted you to experience. What you’re seeing in that setting is not “comics” but “comic art”. I would classify this experience squarely as para-comic, simply because it is not the whole thing that the creator meant for an audience to see. If something is deliberately left out by a third party that you were supposed to see, then the work has become something else, (something I classify as a para-comic). It may be related to comics, but it is not comics.

The second setting I want to talk about is another that is becoming more and more common, the experience of comics displayed as part of a lecture. We’re getting to the point where being able to take a class or even earn a degree majoring in comics is not unusual. Heck, even I have a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where I majored in Comic Illustration. (Please hold all jokes about how good of a school it can be if I graduated.) MCAD also has been known to host various guest artists and lectures, and even seminars. It is an event from one of these seminars that really brought to my attention how important the way an audience experiences a comic is.

I was attending a week-long seminar taught by Scott McCloud. The usual course structure was a Keynote slide presentation to start off, with hands-on exercises to follow. One morning, McCloud showed us a beautiful comic, projected on the big screen. In this comic, there were no words, and it was incredibly dense and abstract. (I wish I could tell you the name of it.... if anyone reading this comic was there and knows what the comic was called, let me know.) We, as a group, would stare at the screen until McCloud clicked away the image and brought the next one up. At the end, our interpretations of the comic were all reasonably varied. One page, especially dense and abstract was a particular sticking point in the discussion. The point was brought up that you could give different parts of it emphasis, depending on how much time you focused on it. Which then made me realize, that control was taken out of our hands! We, the readers, were forced to allow someone else, in this case McCloud, control the rate of experience. I said, “We failed the comic.”

What did I mean when I said that? Quite frankly, when I thought about it, I realized that the cartoonist had built the comic to be experienced by everyone differently, which included the amount of time they spent on each image provided. Now, sure, I may have chosen to spend the time McCloud gave me had I been left the choice, but I do not believe everyone would have made the same choice. By taking the control of rate away from each individual, we did not experience the comic to its fullest extent. Not only that, but, we also did not experience the comic in its original published form. Some comics are designed to be scalable, seen at different screen resolutions, or on different sizes of paper. Some are not. In this particular instance, the comic was not designed to be up-scaled or projected. I dare say, that because of this second-generation viewing of the comic, something was lost in the translation.

The obvious question now is, “Should comics never be displayed in a way other than their original published form?” The answer is, of course, no. I’m not suggesting that. What I am suggesting, however, is that one should be aware of what the original published form of the work is. Keep that in mind in the other instances it is displayed, whether it be as part of a gallery show or a lecture.

Comics have long been a solitary audience experience. Perhaps this comes from the fact that comics have always been presented as something to be read. A lot of the terms used in comics come from the world of reading. We have “comic books,” “graphic novels,” and while we may “watch” television or “see” a movie, we “read” comics. Reading is a very individualized ability. Many people may read in a similar fashion, but it is rare that two people will read, and interpret what they’ve read, the exact same way or at the same rate.

The Criteria of Audience Experience is important, because it speaks to that solitude of audience. It is about not only how one controls the rate of their experience, but how the individual is allowed to choose his or her own moments for emphasis. It is the individuality of experience that is unique to comics, and that is what this criteria celebrates.

cyberlord, i don't understand

marvelouspatric's picture

cyberlord, i don't understand why you need to equate comics with story.  i just don't get it.  why do you feel the need to force things that are not stories into story structure just so you'd be okay if someone made comics out of them.  why?  why do comics have to be stories?  why can't they be other things?  

Comics do not have to be stories.

CyberLord's picture

It's just that everything I have seen has a narrator (and is therefore a narrative) and is a story.  All else really falls into illustration.

Political cartoons are comics in my mind and probably come closest to what you want to describe.  I still see story in them, even though the intent of the creator is to project a political thought.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

It's all in the head, or...

Max Vaehling's picture

"You have to admit that EVERYTHING in a novel is created by the reader or I am just wasting my time here.  Strictly speaking, this is true of motion pictures as well.  Motion pictures contain NO MOTION!  It is an illusion of motion."

Can't agree on that one, sorry for wasting your time. There's a difference in the way transitions between information are handled in comics and most other media. In books, an action is described by describing the action, move by move. You still have to visualize the action yourself, but you don't create the sequence. In movies, you don't consciously see the images as sequential images, unless you're way faster than me in grasping things. What you see is a continiuous action. In a very technical sense you're right, and it's all being combined in your head (and I'm not mentioning the large part editing has in movie storytelling because I don't want to complicate the argument). But you're still not creating the story in the way comics make you. In comics, the action isn't described. All you get are cliff notes, and you have to provide the narrative based on your own experience and expectations. There are no actual transitions between the panels, just cues as to how these transitions are to be provided.

I think we have to agree to disagree.

CyberLord's picture

Max:

You wrote:

In books, an action is described by describing the action, move by move. You still have to visualize the action yourself, but you don't create the sequence.

I have to completely disagree with you here.  A poor writer would describe action move by move.  Good writers stir the imagination of the reader to create the imagery.  In thinking of "Dune" by Frank Herbert or "Along The Scenic Route" by Harlan Ellison I just don't see the same thing you are describing.  Frank Herbert described Sand Worms and their motion.  I created the image and the sequence in my mind.  I am starting with less in "Dune" than I am with any comic book that have images up the yin-yang.

 

You also wrote:

In movies, you don't consciously see the images as sequential images, unless you're way faster than me in grasping things. What you see is a continiuous action.

Max, what you do is CREATE continuous action in your mind.  I think we agree here.  It's all perception.

 

Then you close with:

But you're still not creating the story in the way comics make you. In comics, the action isn't described. All you get are cliff notes, and you have to provide the narrative based on your own experience and expectations. There are no actual transitions between the panels, just cues as to how these transitions are to be provided.

 

This is the exact same thing that is happening in movies and novels.  I am sure you had to take a foreign language at one time in school.  Do you remember trying to interpret the story from a different culture than your own?  As a trivial example it took me a while to understand that the "trunk" of a car in the U. S. is called a "boot" in England.  Movies have an easier time of this because they provide actual sound, and they may contain music to push the viewer into the proper mood.

And if you think comics are "Cliff's Notes" what do you think novels are?  They give you far less.  That's why I think contemporary science fiction is littered with books based on television or movie series.  The imagery is already in the mind of the reader and weak writers can lean on that.  After all, most of us already know what Enterprise looks like.  The writer only has to tell us which era.
 

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

it's not the physics text

marvelouspatric's picture

 it's not the physics text that can be a comic, it's that there can be a comic that explains physics theories. i'm not citing a specific example of something that has been done (outside of mccloud's latest books), but the idea is that just as genre does define comics, neither does the fact that they have to tell a story.

Thoughts on "narrative".

CyberLord's picture

In thinking about this I have looked at my old text books, but now I see that you are not talking about text books.

Well, OK, I'm going to go over my thought processes on this one just for grins.  Anyway, I think it has some relevance.

My first  thoughts were that I considered Will Eisner's "PM" books for the U. S. Army to be comics (based upon memory).  Then I tried to apply that to Physics.  I pulled out "The Feynman Lectures On Physics" and re-read portions of it.  I decided that this could indeed be a comic because it had a traditional character in the person of Richard Feynman as he lectured on Physics at CalTech in 1961 and 1962.  You have a narrative: a character explaining Physics to students.  (From what I have seen of McCloud's books, they fit this model.)

Next I pulled "Physics" by Hans C. Ohanian and re-read some of that.  There are graphical passages that would require images, but no matter how I tried to concieve it, it still came out, to me, to be an illustrated book, UNLESS it was done similarly to "The Cartoon History Of The Universe" which is indeed a comic, and does have a narrative.

And this is where the crux of this discussion lies, in my opinion.  We can ALL agree that history is narrative.  If we can't, let's just stop right here and agree to disagree.

Then we come to the grey area between the narrative of "The Feynman Lectures On Physics" and the text and illustrations of "Physics" by Hans C. Ohanian.  In my opinion you have narrative if you have a "character" narrating, even if that "character" is off-panel.  And this is where I am as of this morning.
 

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

i don't think you understand me, cyberlord...

marvelouspatric's picture

 uh, i don't think you understand what "narrative" means.  "narrative" and "story" don't mean words. they mean, well, a story.  examples of narratives would be books like the hitchhikers's guide to the galaxy, war and peace, and a confederacy of dunces.  now, all three of those happen to be ficiton.  there can be narrative non-fiction as well, such as biographies. a non-narrative book example would be a dictionary, a brief history of time, and the science of superheroes.  

 comics don't have to tell a story, ie, there can be non-narrative comics.  mccloud's books are obviously not stories, thus non-narrative.  yet, they are comics.  one could make a comic about physics, or philosophy, or anything.  there doesn't have to be a story.

i think you're confusing the terms "narrative" and "story" to mean "text".

OK, I think we agree that

CyberLord's picture

OK, I think we agree that story and narrative are synonymous.

I can't comment on Scott McCloud's books because I have never read them.  I have seen disconnected pages.  What I think you are describing is something similar to the "Preventive Maintanance" books Will Eisner did back in the 1970s.  I saw those when I was in the military.

I will think on this some more as to whether I though the "PM" books were comics and whether a Physics text can be a comic.  Right now it's time to go home from work and I'M OUTTA' HERE!  :)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Whether a Physics text can be a comic

Yes, they can.

Now I see. It's a link to a

CyberLord's picture

Now I see.  It's a link to a book at Amazon.com.

I have seen that book.  From what I remember it's a narrative in that it tells the history of Physics.  (In one of my earlier posts I did state that, in my opinion, ALL history is narrative.)  It tells a distinct story.  In this case the growth of physics from early Greek thought up to Einstein.

I suggest you compare this book to "Physics" by Hans C. Ohanian or any other physics text you can get your hands on.  The subject matter that each book covers is fundamentaly different.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

You're begging the question.

CyberLord's picture

You have not given an argument.  If there is more to your argument please post it.  If you have an example of a comic that teaches or describes Physics without narrative, I would be pleased to hear of it and to go out and try to find it so that I can read it myself.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Maybe both of you mean

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Maybe both of you mean something more subtle by story and text and narrative but I checked out what Patric linked to and it's a comic that doesn't tell a story, unless you consider a course on physics to be a story (I don't).

If someone did a math textbook in comic form it wouldn't be narrative or a story would it? (I don't think it would be most likely)

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Whether it would be a

CyberLord's picture

Whether it would be a narrative would depend upon HOW it was done.

If it had a "narrator" similar to what I describe for "The Feynman Lectures On Physics" then, in my opinion, it would have narrative and be a story.

Now, if it was a math text, let's say for argument an Algebra text, and you just took the book, put it into panels and arranged it on a page it would just be an illustrated text.  All that really does is change the format of the book.  It does not make it a comic.

Think of it this way: no one confuses John Steinbeck's "Of Mice And Men" with (whatever math text you last used), even though both have the same form.  Novels are novels in the same way that comics are comics.  They tell stories!

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

AHHHH!!! YES!!!!

marvelouspatric's picture

 AHHHH!!! YES!!!!  INTERACTIVITY!!!!!
 

that's a huge key!!  max, you nailed it!  i couldn't have answered that better myself.  

 

although, i do want to make one comment on cyberlord's post, about "it's all just STORYTELLING"  see, that's not exactly true.  a more accurate statement would be "It's all just VISUAL COMMUNICATION" because being a narrative is not inherent to being a comic.

The lost art of the caption

CyberLord's picture

I have to disagree with you here, Patrick.

Back in the day words and pictures TOGETHER carried the story.  Contemporary stories seem to have lost this.  I think most contemporary creators actually want to create movies but lack the skills or temperament.  (Just try shooting actual film footage and then edit it to make sense.  Takes LOTS of time.  Trust me.)

I have noticed this trend since the early seventies when I was first exposed to Rich Corbin's work on "Rowlf".  His animation background was clearly evident in certain pages as he used whole pages to show a second or two of story time.  I don't have the material in front of me at this time (I'm at work.  Don't tell my boss.  ;)  ) but the image I clearly remember is that of a truck or jeep speeding to the foreground.  He took a whole page to show that.

When it was just Rich Corbin it was truly wondrous to see.  Then others started using this same technique.  Soon we got people like Frank Miller trying to imitate scenes from movies such as "Body Heat", especially the part where Ned Racine (played by William Hurt) suddenly awakens to realize Matty Walker (played by Kathleen Turner) is still alive.  I don't remember the specific issue of Daredevil, but it you have seen that opening page with Matt Murdock screaming "She's alive!" or words to that effect, and know where it came from, then you probably got as big a laugh out of it as I have.  Anyone who has seen "American Gigolo" and remembers the shading effect of the venetian blinds ( or should I say Levelor?) and then seen that imitated in the pages of Daredevil will know what I'm talking about.

This trend has grown to the point where I see double page spreads without a single word on them.  It's incredible.  Just static double page images.  That's it.  And people used to complain about Jack Kirby using too many of those in the pages of "New Gods".  Well, Kirby would include words in his.  Maybe that was his mistake.

People seem to be ashamed of captions today.  I get the distinct feeling that contemporary comics creators are actually trying to create storyboards for movies rather than comics.  I see far too many pages without captions or word balloons.  I have even seen entire books without words.  This attempt to create motion picture story boards is contaminating comics and their definition, in my opinion.

Now we come to "narrative".

The story IS the narrative!

Whether we are talking motion pictures, novels, comics, music, or oral storytelling.  How to best communicate that narrative is determined by the skill set of the creator.  

I have one small favor: don't bring "Ulysses" into the conversation.  I have never been able to get through it so I won't be able to comment on it.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

the lost art of the caption

gecko200's picture

 I don't think the examples you gave really holds water. Frank Miller 's using venetian blinds as a shading effect is more trying to stretch the boundaries of black and white images to show form ,space and mood. Will Eisner also did wonderful sequences with no captions and they were like poetry. So in Essence it all boils down to preferences, If you don't like it don't buy it or read it but Eisner has been doing comics with minimal captions or a larger ratio of sound effects to dialogue and they named the top award in comics after him.

Gecko200, thank you for your

CyberLord's picture

Gecko200, thank you for your comment.

I don't think it is relevant whether I like it or not, or even if I think they were done to good effect.  I concede that Will Eisner (and probably others) used such devices long before Rich Corbin.  What I find interesting is the increase in the use of these devices since the 1970s and the appearance ( to me, if no one else ) that contemporary comic creators seem to be creating something more akin to a motion-picture storyboard.

"Everything Must Change" by Quincy Jones is relevant here.  Comics will change and adapt to the needs of it's audience and the designs of it's creators.  I might not like it, but who cares if it still sells?

Just for note, since the 1980s I have not been able to read Marvel/DC comics for more than a year or two before they get tired and stale.  Then I have to go on a five year, or so, hiatus.  I sometimes check out the comics at DeLauer's in Oakland, but I have not bought or read anything except "Battle Angel Alita: The Last Order" since 2004.  Sorry, I just remembered that I have bought the Checker "Flash Gordon" collection and I have downloaded the Milton Caniff "Steve Canyon" stuff along with a bunch of other stuff off of wowio.com.

Just for grins, check out "The Power Men of Mongo" in the Checker "Flash Gordon" collection (or if you are extremely fortunate to still have the Nostalgia Press edition published in the 1970s).  See that red costume with the yellow lightning bolt across the chest?  Doesn't that look like the first appearance of the Silver Age Flash costume?  I sometimes argue with people over this and get negative feedback from those unwilling to concede that someone at DC swiped that costume.  :)

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

I'd call it interactivity

Max Vaehling's picture

The thing that tells comics apart from other media is its interactivity. The audience don't just pace the story, they actually create it from the elements the comic provides. Most of the story isn't really on the page at all, it's in the gutters between the pictures. Too bad the term "interactive" has been occupied by video games so it can be misunderstood too easily. Books don't do that, movies don't do that. They provide the narrative flow. Comics just provide the cues, but the one telling the story is the reader.

<cite>Will you still deny me if I am able to add sound effects just because Jack Kirby never had sound effects?</cite>

As long as this relation between the reader and the comic is maintained, even sound effects don't make a difference. I've seen comics with ambient noises or incidental sound effects that played when you moused over something. But the comic was still recombined n the reader's head. As soon as the transition between the cues isn't part of the reading experience but happening within the medium, it ceases being a comic. Adding voices destroys the reader-comic relation. Animation can destroy the relation, if it carries part of the story. If it's just an element within the panel moving, or a mode of connecting panels, of course that doesn't make it non-comic.

Max: You wrote: The audience

CyberLord's picture

Max:

You wrote:

The audience don't just pace the story, they actually create it from the elements the comic provides.

If you don't think that is true of novels, or movies, or music, we will never come to an understanding.  You have to admit that EVERYTHING in a novel is created by the reader or I am just wasting my time here.  Strictly speaking, this is true of motion pictures as well.  Motion pictures contain NO MOTION!  It is an illusion of motion.  Movies flash 24 frames per second on the screen.  Your television shows 30 frames per second.  Your brain fills in the missing gaps.  I could argue that motion pictures are nothing more than comics with sound.  After all, they are just a series of full page panels shown one after the other.

 

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic? Audience Experience

CyberLord's picture

Probably a better title would be "Timing". Most of what you are speaking of here is time related. Audience experience within comics may be altered in numerous ways. Back in the 1950s and 1960s it was not unusual to see 3-D versions of comics that had previously been printed in 2-D. Then there are the black and white reprints of previously colored stories, and color versions of previously black and white stories. Audience experience is almost trivial to alter.

You wrote:
The Criteria of Audience Experience is important, because it speaks to that solitude of audience. It is about not only how one controls the rate of their experience, but how the individual is allowed to choose his or her own moments for emphasis. It is the individuality of experience that is unique to comics, and that is what this criteria celebrates.

The only real difference here between traditional literature and comics is the imagery of comics and the way the words are fused into the imagery. Prior to the 1960s novels were traditionally illustrated, but those illustrations could be disposed of without altering the reading experience. Comics have never had that luxury. Braille only makes sense for novels.
Now what do you think of comics that have audio recording attached. The one that comes to mind quickest for me is the music that was attached to an early issue of Nexus, back when it was a large format black and white. I never listened to it, though I bought and read the book, so I can only assume that it may have dictated a pace to the story. Would that make that issue of Nexus something other than a comic?

This is not a trivial question given the popularity of audio-books. Something like this may become popular for comics in the future. For instance Marvel used to license their stories from the 1960s to some animation house that shot directly from the comic page, added some zooms and other edits along with a soundtrack. Something similar to that could be created for video iPods, PSPs, and similar devices.

Right now, comics creators have little control over the pacing of the experience. That may not always be true.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord

Re: Is This A Comic? Audience Experience

Gordon McAlpin's picture

"Something like this may become popular for comics in the future. For instance Marvel used to license their stories from the 1960s to some animation house that shot directly from the comic page, added some zooms and other edits along with a soundtrack. Something similar to that could be created for video iPods, PSPs, and similar devices."

Those things are not comics; they're poorly animated video.

Just as audiobooks are NOT novels: they're recordings of a reading of a novel. Very big difference -- ask a novelist.

Don't forget that things can contain elements of more than one medium... you know: multi-media. Plenty of webcomics have incorporated a bit of animation into their lexicon, but animation is not comics -- in the same sense that the incorporation of words into comics is more or less multi-media, as well.

Some instances of this are much more gray than others, but where Cerebus had vast sections that were definitely not comics -- they were illustrated prose, or just straight prose -- the whole of the work is called a comic since, I suppose, MOST of it was a comic.

Jules Feiffer's The Man in the Ceiling is a mix of illustrated prose and comics, and I' argue that it was chiefly an illustrated novel with comics bits fit into the narrative, because the majority of THAT work was illustrated prose, not comics.

Multiplex is a twice weekly humor comic about the staff of the Multiplex 10 Cinemas and the movies that play there.

Re: Is This A Comic? Audience Experience

CyberLord's picture

I agree with you. Audiobooks are not novels.

Today.

The pace of experiencing comics and novels are controlled by the reader.

Today.

Because comics and novels are composed of static images. (The letters of a novel are actually glyphs: pictures.)

Today.

If digital paper is ever commercialized that may no longer be true. Will you deny me the ability to add motion to my images should digital paper be made available? Will you deny that what I create is a comic because of a superior illusion of motion?
Will you still deny me if I am able to add sound effects just because Jack Kirby never had sound effects?
OK, maybe I've crossed the line into motion pictures if I add voices to my characters, but then I think of how audio books simply took novels back to their source: oral storytelling.
And then I remember the first movies were in black and white and SILENT!
It's all just STORY TELLING. Media is not important except when concerning money and respectibility. Movies have the respect of the public in the US. Novels used to have the same respect. Comics are still struggling to be respected. That's the only real difference I see.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and discovery. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.---------CyberLord