It's Just Not the Same as Print (and It Shouldn't Be): Rethinking the Possibilities of Digital Comics
This article challenges digital comics to become a more interactive, immersive medium that actively strives to redefine the reader/text relationship. Extending Scott McCloud's notion of an "infinite cavnas" (discussed in his Reinventing Comics) I draw from Espen Aarseth's definition of Ergodic Literature and Gerard Genette's theory of hypertextuality to suggest that digital comics can--and ultimately should--extend, expand, and amplify their print based counterpart through intentional, complex reader/text interaction. To make such an argument, I first demonstrate how most digital comics make an attempt to remediate paper-based comics and as such, try to re-create the reader/text interaction found in these "floppy" comics. Secondly, through an analysis of multimedia comics such as Nawlz and innovative hybrid comics such as Marvel's AvX, I explore the interactive possibilities that digital tools afford comic book creators and readers alike. Ultimately, I argue that digital comics should take advantage of their unique material affordances and subsequent infinite number of possibilities to re-define how a reader and a text interact and, in turn, avoid becoming a "retro" technology.
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Dr. Jeffrey S. J. Kirchoff is an Assistant Professor of English at Millikin University. He teaches courses on rhetoric, writing, comic books, and video games. Kirchoff has presented his research at a wide range of conferences and his work has been featured in Studies in Comics, Rhizomes, and Computers and Composition Online (among others)
© 2013 Jeffrey S. J. Kirchoff, used by permission