Is it my Imagination…

…or has there been an increase in the number of extended canvas webcomics by young artists lately?

Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part (they laughed at me at the academy, the fools!) but yesterday alone, I got two emails from relative newcomers, both consciously exploring webcomics’ unique spatial opportunities.

Check out the lovely art in Ada Starfield (above) by “Darcie” and Shira-chan’s playful The Ketchup Conundrum; two very different comics, but both ditching the page metaphor in their own way.

Maybe all we needed was a few spatially sophisticated popular stories like Emily Carroll’s His Face All Red or Daniel Lieske’s Wormworld to kick off a new round of digital exploration. Maybe it’s just a temporary blip. But hey, it’s nice to see experimentation on the rise again for as long as it lasts.

Discussion (16)¬

  1. Maybe we are just entering a time where the idea to produce work exclusively for the screen doesn’t sound as stupid anymore as it used to. I think the wish to one day appear in print is the main incentive for creators to still publish their web based comics in traditional page format today. With the second generation of tablet devices recently entering the market, we see the establishment of a real alternative to print distribution. Personally I can say that this alternative has become attractive enough for me to embrace the creative possibilities of the extended canvas and give straight digital distribution a shot.

    • Scott says:

      Good point about tablets, Daniel.

      I tend to think in terms of the aesthetic advantages (scrolling with a finger is so much more natural than with a mouse), but a possible revenue model might turn far more heads in the long run. ^^

      • Morgan Wick says:

        I’ve long said the biggest obstacle to the infinite canvas working out was the steadfast refusal of micropayments to work out, if only because that was the only revenue model I could think of that would obviate the desire/need to release on a periodical basis.

        The development of tablet computing, and apps in general, may cause (or be causing) a new flowering of experiments in comics.

  2. indigo says:

    To build on the idea that this might be driven by tablet computers, I’d add that until tablets came along (specifically the ‘app store’ concept of digital distribution) there wasn’t a very viable way to monetize purely digital content. Most cartoonists I know at this point are still looking to print publication to monetize their work, myself included, and are therefore planning ahead for the restrictions inherent. Even the currently ‘traditional’ model of digital distribution, the pdf file, relies on a page-based metaphor when presenting the content.

    However, if I were to plan a project solely for distribution via a digital device such as a tablet, I would certainly try to take advantage of the grand, sweeping gestures and interactivity afforded by the technology.

  3. Velderia says:

    I never realized this… But… Now I wonder if I should do this. I’m always concerned with “Oh, it should be this size so I can print it later”. Later. But I wonder if it’s really faster or easier to produce screen-only. It’s not like a there’s a lot of money to be made with print-on-demand too. Yet, there’s something so natural-feeling about standard print size though… I don’t know. I feel conflicted now.

  4. Elisa says:

    I don’t think it is only wishful thinking, Mr. McCloud. In fact, I’m graduating from college, as a graphic designer, and my graduation project is exactly a story (‘comics’) aiming for the web. Since I’m brazilian, I thought it would be interesting to make of universal access the stories and legends of our native indians – and I’m sure there are a lot of young people like me who have various kinds of ideas related to exposing their comics via web! (Ps.:Of course, you’re one of my most important references regarding this subject 🙂
    Anyway, a classmate of mine graduated with a similar project – it came as a surprise that her project was accepted.
    Our inspiration (mine, hers and of other ppl we know) comes mainly from manga (even though the drawing style is not always the same), and we like a lot the idea of those ‘online manga readers’. ‘Why not apply it to our own work?’, is what we think. This is what I’ve been trying to do, lately; I bet I’m not the only one 😉

    Well, that’s it!! Thanks for your wonderful work!

  5. Lee Edward McIlmoyle says:

    Inclined to agree with Daniel. the advent of tablet PCs and iPads has really opened up the door for more convenient extended canvas experiments. As well, the rise of digital content download stores has really changed the old ‘print or perish’ paradigm. The only thing I ever thought was essentially wrong with ‘Reinventing’ was simply that it was too soon to tell. You more or less called it, but it was essentially a decade too soon.

    For my part, I’m incubating some ideas about interactive comics, which I’m trying to sort out in my head as a means of doing something new with the extended canvas idea and the old ‘choose your own story’ books. Originally I thought I wanted to get into game design, but through a series of mishaps, I finally came to realise that, while I would like to develop a real adventure game sort of thingy, what I really want to do is just tell a very broad story that has lots of different directions to go in, both figuratively and literally

    I’m kind of hoping to have the method and platform (medium) sorted out in my head by the summer, though a lot hinges on how I sort out my domestic situation before then. Sadly, unemployment and debt are weighing heavily on my marriage right now. *sigh* ‘Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.’

  6. Oh! I didn’t read down far enough. Indigo said basically the same thing I wanted to say, about digital distribution. Coolness.

  7. Sam says:

    You need to check this out, Scott:

  8. Donkeypapuas says:

    Dear Mister Scott McCloud,

    I read your book – Making Comics (french translation, “Faire de la bande desinee”) and I apreciate that such kind of book is more than necessary to be published in my country, Romania.

    My name is Marian Hociung and I am the manager of a new fres publishing house where I intend to publish manga or comics creations. Romania is a country where the comics (benzi desenate as there’s called here) are not a developed market, despite the situation in the ancient regime.

    Can you give me some details about the financial details and to possible agreement?

    Marian Hociung

  9. TheOddStrange says:

    The only problem with ‘pure digital’ stuff is that a lot of people wouldn’t want to pay anything for an electronic file because it is not a solid thing that they can feel and smell, and can be copied indefinitely with little or no cost… though maybe that might not be true for our web-centered generation…

  10. […] [link suggested both on Twitter and in yesterday's comments] […]

  11. I think one problem is that all the software we have for web comics is geared to comic strips, which work well either on print or on web without any changes.
    With a comic strip you read, laugh, and move on with your life, it’s casual reading.
    With a comic book, you (or at least I) need to stop doing everything else and read at least a full chapter in order to feel immersed in the story, which is very difficult to achieve when you’re being annoyed by “next | prev” buttons, pagination and all the clutter surrounding the page.
    So I think the approach taken by Daniel Lieske or by you in Zot Online is one of the best and simplest. A neutral background, no clutter, just the comic, you and the scroll wheel.
    The only problem with this approach is that is difficult to monetize, but it seems David has already found a way.

  12. […] Infinite Canvas Explored Choose your own path comic posted by Shira-chan.  An interesting way to make comics. This is not an original idea, as it has been explored like this before, but is another example of it. (Source: Shira-Chan – via Scott McCloud) […]

  13. Kaabi says:

    I know a lot of Korean webcomics have been using extended canvases for a while!