Archive for ‘Technology’

The Internet of Things?

Not comics-related, but I found this article about the impending availability of more wireless spectrum kind of interesting, and I liked the little “Internet of Things” video IBM put together (found via Mark Essel). For a corporate promo, it does a decent job of visualizing legitimately interesting issues, without just shilling for a specific product.*

Big companies seem to be doing a better job of earning those little logos in the last few seconds of their videos ( the herding cats video for example). More are earning at least an “aww” or a “hmm” from us. Fewer just an “oy.”

*though, as the article points out, it may be shilling for a less-than-desirable world, privacy-wise.

Web Experiments, an 80-Foot Comic, and the South Korean Ministry of Defense

Some odds and ends, this being Friday.

Via Kickstarter, news of an 80-foot comic being created for Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. It seems to be piggybacking on a somewhat old-fashioned idea of the contents of the “comic book medium” [*shudder*], but you gotta give ’em points for the form.

Via Randy Oest, the suggestion that these intriguing experiments with some emerging Web standards might be applicable to comics. It’s a good point. Anyone want to give it a whirl?

Finally, via Ed Spradley, news of the South Korean Ministry of Defense’s efforts to explain their position in the recent alleged sinking of a South Korean patrol boat by North Korea, using a non-fiction comic distributed to school children. The effort is getting mixed reactions apparently, but it’s certainly a striking reminder of how more fully-integrated comics are in the Manwha/Manga culture than here in the West.

Have a great weekend!

The Physics of Iconography

Via Dan Wallace, news of this concept video by TAT Technology.

2014 may seem kind of soon for a lot of what they’re showing, but it’s encouraging to see how close our imaginations are drawing toward the kind of pie-in-the-sky displays I was filling peoples’ heads with during Q & As in the late ’90s.

(Also, yeah, there’s a bit of gratis “product placement” in the first scene, though I swear that’s not why I’m linking to it!)

A lot of the progress we’re seeing in multi-touch display technology (the real thing, not just smoke-and-mirrors promo videos) falls into the broad category of introducing physics into visual iconography; something I’ve wanted to see comics embrace for over a decade.

If we treat comics as a still life of multiple static (or looping) images, then the way we navigate through that landscape matters. Hunting for tiny scrollbar arrows or next page links to click was always a temporary waystation.

When navigating through information is a process of grabbing, flinging, flipping, or stopping continuous images, we can finally delegate the common sense parts of our brain that’ve always known how to navigate the physical world to getting from panel to panel, and devote our attention to the world inside the panels and inside the stories we care about.

And that can’t happen soon enough.

“We are the People of the Book”

Here’s a good stemwinder by Cory Doctorow from earlier this year (via Dirk) on the many complex ways copyright control legislation and information access are at war.

A lot of people in comics—writers, artists, publishers—are pinning their hopes on legal protections and new walled gardens like App Stores to restore some sense of stability and control to what looks increasingly like the same leaky boat scenario that’s affecting other creative fields.

It’s important, though, to consider the many ways that the “remedy” being proposed and implemented is far worse than the “disease” of widespread sharing.

I’ve always hoped that a culture of willing buyers and willing sellers, however small, can continue to emerge alongside file-sharing. But the key word was always willing; a concept increasingly at odds with the world Cory is rightly warning us about.

I Couldn’t do it, Could You?

For those who didn’t follow the link in Friday’s post, James Sturm has quit the internet for four months and is writing about it at Slate.

It’s not exactly Thoreau territory. He’s still using his phone (now more than ever!) and still part of the electronic landscape in other ways. He’s even talked to ABC about itBut his observations on the process are illuminating and his illustrations for the article are a delight.

James and I have had some vigorous debates about the value of information technology over the years. It’s no secret that I’m pretty happy with the way things are going. But a part of me wouldn’t mind following him for a while.

I’m increasingly aware of my own addictions. After answering as many emails as I can in the morning (never enough!), I’ll sometimes close my laptop and put it away to avoid the temptation of checking for new mails until I get at least a few hours of drawing done on the main machine (yeah, I use a local client for email—not living up to my surname yet). Sooner or later, I may have to start unplugging the modem for part of the day too.

If James inspires you to try something similar, go for it. But you might want to wait until his Slate reports are done, since those are available only on…


All the World is Sharing

So a few years ago I did an interview which wound up on the Hellboy 3-Disk DVD. The interview was pretty good (although the “examples” they showed had nothing to do with what I was saying).

Anyway, it came out, some people bought it, and from its Amazon ranking, it still sells from time to time.


Like all movies, it wound up on sharing/streaming sites. Now, when I egosurf, I see references to the piece all the time, and I know they’re all bootlegs because they’ve apparently been translated into other languages and then translated back.

Just a few of the names:

A Expeditiously Guide to Thought Comics with Scott McCloud

A Fleet Guide to Concept Comics with Scott McCloud

A Fast Guide to Belief Comics with Scott McCloud

A Hastily Guide to Conception Comics with Scott McCloud

A Lickety-split Guide to Conception Comics with Scott McCloud

A Like A Flash Guide to Notion Comics with Scott McCloud

A Mercurial Guide to Idea Comics with Scott McCloud

A Posthaste Guide to Opinion Comics with Scott McCloud

A Rapidly Guide to Idea Comics with Scott McCloud

A Snappy Guide to Plan Comics with Scott McCloud

A Speedily Guide to Idea Comics with Scott McCloud

A Swiftly Guide to Plan Comics with Scott McCloud

I’ve always held back from vilifying file-sharing like some of my peers who work in the “content” industry. I’m a boy scout myself—nearly all my songs and videos are straight from iTunes or equivalent sources—but I would rather live in a world that allows sharing and tries to build markets from willing sellers and willing buyers, than a world where the Net is so controlled that it can be effectively shut down.

Still, it’s sobering to see the scale of the phenomenon and how rarely these sessions pull up the actual name of the original segment:

A Quick Guide to Understanding Comics with Scott McCloud

Happy Accidents

Simon Cottee’s A Brief History of the Modern Pixel is the latest entry in an ongoing discussion in videogame circles about the power of the simplified aesthetic of early lo-res games. I get roped in as usual in connection to cartoon art and the points I make about universality in Chapter Two of UC, but it’s a very game-native presentation with some interesting points.

Comics and games both have some sorting to do when it comes to old technologies. Some of the old technical limitations have genuine aesthetic advantages and are worth hanging onto long after they’re no longer necessary. But mixed in with those happy accidents are other artifacts bathed in nostalgia and fetishizing that sometimes makes it hard to tell the useful from the merely warm and fuzzy.

Cottee obviously wants to help with that sorting so more power to him.

[link via boingboing via fpinternational]

Can’t… Stop… Watching…

One of the things I love about this cheerfully insane page is that but for the load times, this is something that could have been approximated with software dating back to the early nineties.

We sometimes neglect the fact that when we graduate from one generation of technologies to the next, that doesn’t mean we’ve exhausted the creative possibilities of the previous ones. The advent of CSS or PHP didn’t negate the inventiveness of something like this brain-scrambling oldie, for example, it just opened the door to new shenanigans.

Creativity is backwards compatible!

[link via… um, I don’t know! Who told me about this??]

[Oh WAIT! Chuck in the comments points out that the same artist has a Webcomic! THAT’S probably what led me there. Definitely check out this equally long-loading but nevertheless great comic!]

No, Seriously: Why??

Okay, first of all, gotta love Dean Haspiel. Great guy, great comics. He has a new one up at Zuda. Go take a look.

Unfortunately, I haven’t finished Dean’s story, because I have a book to draw and thanks to Zuda’s interface, it would take me half the morning to finish reading the thing.

I asked this once before and one of our posters (Matthew Marcus) had a theory, but I’m still unsatisfied.

Why, oh why, oh WHY does every single page turn in Zuda require blurring the page I was just on and subjecting me to an unreasonably slow loading bar?

Why can’t it remain in focus and simply put the progress bar out of the way so I can keep reading and get a head start on loading? Or perhaps dim the next button until the page is ready?

Why don’t I have the option of loading the whole comic in advance as I would a song or TV show? (or am I just missing that feature?)

Failing that, why doesn’t Zuda at least pre-load one or two pages in advance? (Note that if I walk away for 10 minutes, I’ll still have to wait just as long once I return).

Why is the load time for Zuda pages any slower than, say, this?

The reason I’m frustrated with Zuda has nothing to do with its business model (a separate issue for another day—also a moving target it turns out) or its corporate parent.

The reason I’m frustrated is because I actually LIKE the basic design of Zuda. The screen-fitting, full screen option is so natural. Such a great way to lose yourself in a story.

But with every page, the interface intrudes and rips you back out.


The Single Vendor Problem

Not to dredge up old arguments, but one of the primary reasons I wanted to see a central, independent web currency (the online equivalent of nickels, dimes, and quarters that people could exchange quickly and easily) was that without a single currency, the natural alternative—if there was going to be any sort of paid content industry at all— was a very small number of very BIG vendors.

And this is the inevitable result.

Of course, many are advocating an end to paid content entirely and stuff like this certainly adds fuel to the fire.

Just as in a lot of political debates, though, there are days when it would have helped to have a third choice.

[link via Dirk]