Why Mimic Print?
I hate fake, digital “pages.” I really do. I’m actually kind of insulted by them. It’s not just that they usually look terrible. That’s without question. I think digital “pages” are uninspired design hooks that do little more than perpetuate an idea that isn’t relevant. In fact, you could argue that they actually hamper the development of new and useful ways of conveying information in favor of a gimmick.
Trying to Think Differently
When I sat down to write RELAUNCH I had the idea that it was possible to write a comic that didn’t have any pages per se but was still fundamentally a reading experience that made use comic book storytelling techniques. I kept thinking about it like a dashboard. Here’s what I mean: When you’re driving a car you’re simultaneously aware of a lot of things; the speedometer, the gas gauge, the radio, the GPS, the “check engine” light and so on. You’re paying attention to cars in the rear view mirror. Maybe you’re adjusting the air conditioning. Maybe you’re looking at the passenger. You get the idea. At the same time that you’re doing all of that you’re also driving down the road, progressing from Point A to Point B.
I wanted to write a comic like that. Where the reader is aware of the entire scene but where each panel is potentially changing (or not), potentially present (or not), depending on the ever changing conditions of the story. Yet even though the reader is aware of these changes they’re still progressing linearly through the sequence of events at their own pace.
Even though we’re collectively still exploring its limits of digital storytelling we’re pretty excited about the results so far. In the end it might be a semantic distinction – dashboard, turbomedia, or some other term – but then again language is a complex, nuanced thing. Sometimes just using a different word or phrase to describe something can lead to new, interesting results.