When Will There Be A True Digital Comic?

The comic medium is in a transitional stage right now as the "big two" make the jump into day and date digital comics and the rest of the companies hammer out there demographic. That essentially puts them in direct competition with brick and mortar stores and could quite possible hurt the entire medium. They could effectively put themselves out of business and if they haven’t developed the fan base for the digital stores they've created, then they could leave themselves in a sticky position. That is a whole other discussion in and of itself though. What we need to talk about is how digital comics need to change in order to truly be different than a normal comic book, other than saving on storage space. Or Not...

Right now your current comic book reads from left to right and top to bottom with a splash page thrown in for good measure. A digital comic doesn't truly read the same way. Sure it flows from panel to panel like the printed version of the comic it originates from, but it doesn't need to. The simple fact is, we have yet to see a true digital comic; a comic that has ignored the traditional structuring of storytelling and broken out on its own.

There have been innovations in storytelling in the digital medium, the most notable being the shaky page or the separated dialog captions in which one characters dialog appears on the page at a time. But these are just baby steps in the right direction. We need a modern a comic that comes in and breaks free from traditional storytelling in a good way and furthers the medium. If digital comics continue to just be scanned in images of printed editions then no one is ever going to fully transition and the medium is going to collapse upon itself.

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The technology is there already with Magazines actually already taking the first step. Wired magazine’s app features a bevy of interactions from videos to music and simply new and creative ways of presenting the same information in the printed edition without it being just a race to the end of the magazine. Imagine how much better comics could be if they took this same approach? I’m not talking about motion comics since those are terrible and ugly. Think of it more like a real animated mini when they cut to the 9 o’clock news when some villain in the Ultimate Marvel universe is running a muck. Or if a character is analyzing a murder scene and picks up a scrap of paper and causally mentions the contents, but the reader actually gets to look at the blood soaked paper and draw their own conclusion.

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Obviously the production value would need to increase for these things to happen, but there are simple affordable ways to change the medium now. The first being that the walls of comics need to be broken, only then can it cease feeling like a scanned image that someone pulled from a torrent site. I’m not going to pretend that I have all the answers, but I know there are new ways of telling stories both in the writing and artistically waiting to be discovered.

At Comic Con, IDW Publishing held a panel all about digital comics and Thom Zahler the creator of Love and Capes talked about who writers and artists are always fighting against the right hand side of the page. Basic human tendency is for us to look to the right first after turning a page which essentially spoils the contents of the page for ourselves. With digital comics this is completely eliminated and I think that alone is a huge breakthrough that hasn't been fully explored in the least bit.

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It’s not just up to the creators to change the medium, they rely on fan input so hit the forums, Twitter and leave feedback for them letting them know that you don’t want a fancy CDisplay reader on your futuristic device. If they really want you to support the digital medium they too need to fully embrace it and change the way they create comics and then maybe one day we'll be able to listen to songs that accompany Scott Pilgrim on the page while we read the book.