Easy on the Eyes: Take Two

In the comments to an earlier entry about formats and Lightbox 2, Chris Bolton links to a full screen version of the same approach that’s worth checking out as well.

Of course, this has precedents. Whatever you think of Zuda and their business model, I think they at least had their eyes on the ball when it came to design priorities. “Fit the screen/fill the screen” isn’t a bad way to go for page-to-page formats. Unlike strips, which can thrive in a terrarium of distractions, long form comics work best if all other distractions go away until the story is over. Sadly, both full screen modes seem to short-circuit keyboard commands, but we can’t have everything. (No wait. Screw that! Why can’t we?)

My dream “next page” button?: The spacebar.

Or better yet: Just tap and slide.

We’ll see.

Discussion (14)¬

  1. Iain says:

    It would be pretty cool to see a browser (maybe firefox has an addon) that would allow users to program context-specific hotkeys.

    Hey, it’s great to see your blogging again (I just found it again). The webcomics community is very different than it was a few years ago. I feel like I haven’t really been able to keep up with what’s going on as well as I could a few years ago when your blog (and a few others) were in full swing.

  2. Mr. McCloud?

    If you’ll excuse the little side-note, there’s something I MUST point out:

    Do you really feel that “The New Adventures of Abraham Lincoln” was a “noble failure”, or was that a politely modest remark?

    I didn’t actually read the entire book (I’m trying to find it online, and if I do I’ll probably write you an e-mail later), but judging from the sample (which I just read), it looks surprisingly good – and as far as my eye can tell, the CG backgrounds are INDEED ingeniously combined with the cartoon characters. Granted, the colors (renders x drawings) don’t quite flawlessly match, but as a whole, the composition work is seamless and harmonious enough. That’s the kind of stuff the big anime studios have been experimenting with in the past decade, and it seems to me that new adventures of abraham lincoln is a pioneering work as far as the visual mixture of computer generated backgrounds with traditionally drawn characters! Consequently, I think it’s very confusing that you’d feel ashamed about having created this book! Is that shame motivated by peer pressure, possibly?

    And the irony… oh, the irony of that book was not lost on me:

    “By God, Johnson, that means Americans haven’t become shallow and idiotic! They haven’t lost their common sense! They haven’t become complacent sheep, ready to sell out democracy to any cheap demagogue with a smug grin and clever slogan!”

    This is a brilliant remark, and yet fortunately (hopefully) a bit outdated now that we’re in the age of Obama.

    You see… I feel quite puzzled that you’d refer to this book as a “noble failure”. Maybe secretly deep down you hope that (like many great works of art) it will take some decades before people see that book for what it really is? I certainly hope so.

    Hm. Once again, hope you’ll excuse the extendedly off-topic remark, but I couldn’t find the forums, and I figured this comment might work better at picking your attention that a simple e-mail. If you can spare a few minutes, I’ll apreciate to know your honest opinion on the subject matter – so feel free to shout back. Also (naturally) I’ll understand if you delete this comment!

    All the best,
    Pedro C.

    • Scott says:

      I like *parts* of TNAoAL. Just landed with a big thud, that’s all. 😉

    • John McLeod says:

      FWIW I liked it for the Big Ideas, and by the way Pedro, that quote is desperately relevant in 2009. Alas can’t comment with much confidence on the visual arts merit.

  3. Brian Leung says:

    Scott, you can use the left and right arrows to go back and forth in the comic.

    Flash unfortunately only propagates keystroke events to a limited number of keys in fullscreen mode, mainly for “security” reasons. The spacebar is not one of those keys, but I’m sure that’ll change in the future.

    • Brian Leung says:

      I just pushed out a workaround so we can all use the spacebar to flip through the kids comics on Kidjutsu. The spacebar shortcut should work in fullscreen mode for Firefox and IE users with Flash 10 installed.

      It turns out I was wrong before. Flash 10 does support the spacebar keystroke, but there was a Firefox-specific bug that I previously couldn’t quite figure out how to work around. Not having a spacebar is a huge usability issue that I’ve now addressed.

      Scott, thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      Unfortunately, Flash 9 users are still out of luck and I’m still working through some compatibility issues with Google Chrome…

  4. Hum… ZUMA looks like a very interesting project, and that flash-based comics reader is pretty slick! Except for those annoying crossfade transitions, I say.

    Anyway, I personally think the trails approach is more interesting than this kind of e-reader thing – although there’s no reason that both things can’t be used in combination. Granted, in a way scrooling around to read a webcomic can get annoying, but traditional comics also prompt readers to perform the mechanical action of page-turning. Is that so different from scrolling? Just a thought.

    All the best,

  5. Kyle Latino says:

    Yeah man, the tap and slide. It’s great because it’s more physical that the usual button/mouse interface. More personal. And the mobile device opens up more opportunities for formatting experimentation. It may not be able to do all of what books can, but it can do different things. I should write up some more articles on that.

  6. Mike Leung says:

    Scott, in Reinventing Comics, you challenged comics creators to tailor their works for the infinite canvas for which the browser represents a viewing window. I was just about to send you a link to a display made possible by the obsolescence of Internet Explorer 6 when I found this post. Will you please take a look at it?


    • Mike says:

      Just wanted to say, after doing some catching up on ScottMcCloud.com, I’m wondering if the greater scroll-control of modern browsers (like I use in my sample I linked to) doesn’t warrant a reconsideration of making the scrollbar work for the webcomic. For many of the examples on, say, infinitecanvas.appjet.net, clicking through panels and pages feels something like reading an unfolding map, but where your being fed the next tile; the reader isn’t given an indication of how much they have to go before there’s some kind of pay-off. You knew to provide such an indication on zoom-out of your example. With a scrollbar, you’re given an indication of the end of the document.

      With a printed book, the volume of the book gives an indication of its scope. With traditional web documents, it’s the scrollbar. For reviewing the comic-canvas, the zoom-out is crucial. For comics, web or otherwise, implementing one solution cuts the need for the advantages of the other solutions (if they don’t interfere with each other). I think indications of scope shouldn’t be disregarded casually in presenting webcomics, especially in longer forms.

  7. “Tap and slide” is great! And we’re halfway there; if you read the SMASH episodes from our website on an iPhone (they fit the screen perfectly), you tap to change pages. But no need to slide.

  8. Just a though about these viewers: A lot of webcomics have ads that pay out based on page-views. So having the comic read across multiple pages with the ad on each page maximizes their income.

    How can they apply that revenue stream to these viewers?