It's Just Not the Same as Print (and It Shouldn't Be): Rethinking the Possibilities of Digital Comics

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Jeffrey S.J. Kirchoff, Millikin University

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Abstract

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.

Essay

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Hypertext: It's Just Not the Same as Print (and It Shouldn't Be)

Biography

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


Technoculture Volume 3 (2013)