Archive for ‘Technology’

I Detect a Disturbance in the Force

I’m going to continue to be in Hibernation much of this year while working on the book, but as long as the entire Internet rolled over and growled this morning, you can add my growl to the chorus.

Have a great 2012!

Design Matters

The story of Steve Jobs and Apple is more complicated than most news outlets would lead you to believe, and there were plenty of great minds that led to the original Mac and that contributed to all that followed.

But anyone who thinks that Jobs’ contributions to society can somehow be reduced to “marketing” or “fashion” betrays a complete ignorance of the power and importance of great design.

Great design can and does change the world. Poor design can and does ruin lives.

To Steve Jobs, and to everyone trying every day to put their own dent in the universe, thank you.


When was the last time a comic surprised you? Really surprised you?

If you’re using a javascript enabled modern browser, give this link a click and scroll down to read.

Neat trick, hunh?

This is one of those interesting cases where the insertion of motion (or the illusion of it by hijacking the scrollbar) doesn’t automatically tear at the fabric of the medium. It still feels like comics, because that static juxtaposition is maintained (a bit like comics that use looped motion).

Hope others will give it a try. Adding the ingredient of reader presence to the mix could open up a lot of interesting possibilities, especially for genres like horror which thrive on keeping the reader at least partially in the dark.

[via reader Noah Easterly, reddit, and others]

Social Studies

Another thing that happened while the blog was asleep: I joined Google Plus.

I don’t spend much time on social networks. My life is broken down roughly into a hierarchy of Work, Family, Food, Sleep, Friends, and Recreation and that last one usually involves family if possible. Also the first one takes up a huge part of each day.

Still, I’ve found my Twitter account useful for short bursts sent out to many people (about 230,000 followers as of this morning, though that seems to include more than my share of bots), and Facebook, well… you kinda have to have Facebook. So I do. But I’ve never been a fan.

Yesterday, I asked on all three a hypothetical question: If you had to get rid of either Google+ or Facebook forever, which would it be.

Despite being only a few weeks old, G+ users (in 142 responses, as of this morning) were nearly unanimous that they’d nuke FB without batting an eyelash. My Facebook fan page followers (my personal page is pretty small and hard to link to) offered 34 responses, with less enthusiasm, but mostly stood by the service. Twitter… well, take a look.

Google paid me to do the Chrome comic a few years ago, so I can’t ever claim to be 100% impartial, but the truth is I kinda love Google Plus so far, and will probably shift my attention there much more than Facebook as the service grows.

What little attention I can spare for these things anyway. Still have a book to draw!

Merlin Goes Android

The premiere mad scientist of webcomics Daniel Merlin Goodbrey has released a new comic for the Android Market called Jack’s Abstraction.

I’m in the iOS walled garden for now, so I can’t comment much beyond that, but if you’ve got an Android device, I’m sure it’ll be worth it (and hey, it’s free).

And for those of you who do read comics on Android devices, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the market’s potential.

Oh! And sort of on topic: It occurs to me that though I tweeted it while in Norway at EuroVis, I don’t think I linked from the blog to Google’s latest comics adventure, a fun little explanation of Google Correlate.

Wolk at Wired and a Bad, Bad Law

The always-sensible Douglas Wolk offers a solid round-up of issues surrounding comics and tablets for Wired this week.

Long time readers may find mostly familiar ground here, but it’s good to have someone put it all into perspective once in a while.

And the illustrations are pretty great.

Meanwhile, the CBLDF alerts us to a truly awful Tennessee law worth fighting. And as always, the CBLDF could use your help.

Stop by their site for news and some great premiums and special events coming up.

[via Spurge]

Pay Attention, Comics

“But with individual titles costing between $1 and $3 for about five to 10 minutes of enjoyment, it quickly became a habit too costly to keep up.”

This article at GigaOm by Darrell Etherington points to what I’ve long thought of as the elephant in the room in all discussions of the comics industry: comics’ crappy cost-to-minute ratio.

While subscriptions might be an important part of the solution as Etherington suggests, I personally think that a 99 cents price point could be attractive for a one-off comics story. IF that comic was 50 pages long AND formatted to the screen.

Kurt Busiek has long made the argument that comic books took a wrong turn decades ago when they started cutting pages to keep the price the same. That less satisfying read plus a product not earning its shelf space for retailers, led to fewer copies sold, the loss of the economies of scale, and even higher prices in the long run; while in Japan, Manga’s cheap phone book sized anthologies were selling in the millions.

Now we actually have the opportunity, through a potentially more efficient distribution channel, to get prices down AND bulk up the page count (no printing cost for pixels!). Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

Rule #1: Is your comic a satisfying read?

Rule #2: Is the price low enough that your readers won’t mind paying it again and again?

Rule #3: See Rule #1. Repeat.

Norway through Thor’s Day

I’m off to Bergen, Norway this week, Monday through Thursday. Back to blogging Friday or Monday.

EuroVis 2011 is an IEEE conference focusing on data visualization, an area I’ve grown increasingly interested in, and a field which comics may increasingly find common cause with this decade.

My dad was an engineer and had hundreds of old IEEE Journals on a giant bookcase in the basement. As a kid, I’d read to him from their articles (he was blind). Years later, when I was actually cited in one, I think Mom could finally relax; secure in the knowledge that I had a real job.

Monuments and Metadata

This has nothing to do with comics, but these haunting photos of abandoned Yugoslavian monuments have to be seen to be believed. Link via Paul Kedrosky and Tim O’Reilly.

Meanwhile, word comes from Dennis Vogel of his initiative to create a standardized set of Comics Metadata Specifications. Take a look at what Dennis has so far and see what you think.

[Update (via Carol Tilly): Apparently this effort has a predecessor.]

UC and UX

Great little article at UX Magazine applying some ideas from Understanding Comics to icon design and related issues.

I’ve given some talks on similar issues during web design workshops; focusing on the challenges of what I’ve been calling “cognitive load time”: how fast do users grok what’s on their screen, regardless of how fast it all renders/downloads? Looks like the idea is just as relevant in other UX circles.

One of the important benefits of fast-loading, iconic imagery is that we not only understand each piece of an interface more quickly and intuitively, we can also absorb the whole screen’s many relationships or patterns more easily. Knowing the Parts = Appreciating the Whole.

Chapter Two… Glad I wrote that one.

[via Tom Crawford and Nathan Bashaw]