Works for Me. Does it Work for You?

Here’s a great short comic about drinking by Montreal-based cartoonist Vincent Giard. Lots of other terrific short subjects can be found in the BD Section of his site.

Giard uses simple animated gifs to get his effects. I sometimes get misquoted as saying that adding animation to comics somehow instantly disqualifies them as comics at all (in fact, I read it as recently as two days ago). Not true.

While I do think that fully-animated monstrosities like the Watchmen Motion Comic stretch the term to the breaking point, I’ve seen examples of looping animation that work going all the way back to some of the earliest Magic Inkwell strips (#23, for example) by Cat Garza.

The best way I’ve come up with to explain it is that looping animation (and sound, for that matter) still communicate a static span of time. If panel 2 clearly comes after panel 1 and before panel 3, it still feels like comics, even if panel 2 is a short loop of some sort.

The point isn’t whether or not we want to give it a particular label or not, but whether a given comic works as storytelling. Does it feel whole? Can we lose ourselves in the reality of the strip? And in this case, I’d say yes.

What do you think?

[via Randy Oest]

Discussion (21)¬

  1. Mike says:

    It’s most definitely a comic.

    The characters aren’t animated, the ENTIRE panel is; take away the effect and you have one complete panel, where in animation if you take away any of the other drawings (‘tweens, breakdowns, anticipations/settles) you’re left with just one piece on a larger whole.

    Also, in animation, if you strip it down to only one drawing, you might be left with just an arm or a mouth in some cases. With the comic you’ve posted the link too, if you strip it down you’re left with a whole panel.


  2. Well reasoned, both of you. NO question in my mind: that comic works as a comic, reads as a comic, requires a reader with a knowledge of how to read and make sense of comics.

  3. Helu says:

    I just love it!! I hate animation on webcomics, but in this case it works perfectly with the story. Very very original.

  4. posiputt says:

    i can only agree with chuck there. no question about the comicness (does that word work at all?) of it. even if i am not at all a fan of this discussion-dance around terms and definitions, it still projects different points in time on a spacial canvas and not a temporal. so. comics. what the hell 😛

  5. The looping animated gifs work especially well on this strip, since the story is itself a loop.

  6. […] Scott McCloud has posted an example of an animated comic, Vincent Giard’s bol, that works pretty well, along with a brief explanation of how motion comics can work: The best way I’ve come up with to explain it is that looping animation (and sound, for that matter) still communicate a static span of time. If panel 2 clearly comes after panel 1 and before panel 3, it still feels like comics, even if panel 2 is a short loop of some sort. […]

  7. These motions cause headaches to me. And that’s the actual gag of this specific strip about the well-known consequences of drunkenness 😉
    So, here it works fine but I don’t want to have this motions in any other comic. Heaven forbid!

    • Kurtis says:

      It also gives me a headache, but so much so that I couldn’t even finish reading the strip. I applaud Vincent Giard’s originality and I think he is very talented, but I don’t enjoy reading shaking words.

  8. cat says:


    thanks for the name drop, scott. i still think there’s a lot of potential for animated panels in webcomics, but I find it funny (and somewhat comforting) that this old and simple technology still works.

  9. Mike says:

    There’s not too many places that Shimmering Colour Trick can be used where it’s not invasive to the story.

    I’d rather see (and use) Meta-Panels in ways that don’t immediately take you out of the story and/or break the magic zone where you’re actually experiencing everything you’re reading like it’s real. ^_^

  10. SKleefeld says:

    When I first saw this comic a couple weeks ago I noted that it also doesn’t use animation to actually convey motion at all. All of the animations in this particular comic convey instead an emotional state; the animations are expressive but not literal. It’s extremely clever, but along the same lines as using color to show something other than being strictly representational.

  11. Pat Race says:

    Works for me.. I especially like the panel where he’s trying to put the key in the lock.

  12. Max West says:

    It definitely works as a comic. It was you who defined comics as “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence”. Animation fits this meaning because you said in your famous book, Understanding Comics, that animation could be considered a very very very very very slow comic.

    • Scott says:

      Actually, that was in reference to an actual strip of film if pulled out of the projector. Just an odd side observation, really. Animation (and film for that matter), shown in its native format is a whole ‘nother animal.

      And just for the record: “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence” was a long technical definition I trotted out to be precise in Chapter One of UC for the purposes of argument. I never expected anyone to use it in everyday conversation! ^^

      I usually just say “sequential art” or even “writing with pictures.” 99% of the time, it’s enough.

  13. Will Curwin says:


  14. Al says:

    Your stance on animation and comics makes me wonder how you might classify this:
    Seriously, *I* can’t classify it.
    It’s sequential, but in different pages, but there’s animation, and music and aagarpthp.

  15. DreamTales says:

    Totally agree that this is a great use of animation that enhances the storytelling. All too often technology just gets in the way.

    My concern with these extras is compatibility with existing viewing platforms. They don’t work on on Mac Preview, for example.Also not sure how they stand up under repeated viewings – it might get irritating after a while.