Intertextuality and Parody – Sources to check through

Development in progress

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Development on paper:

  • Using time as a contributing factor, due to the amount of attention creators take to carefully use time in their work.
  • Using different decades of comics to help emphasis this disconect with time. Different era’s having a completely different style. (Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Modern Age)
  • Both Scott McCloud and Marshall McLuhan’s references to the time taking place between panels, “to kill a man off panel, is to condem him to an eternal death”.
  • Having One or two predefined panels, drawing attention to this disconect with time and to imply that the random order has meaning.
  • Setting up seperate databases to coincide with different size panels?
  • What shape should the button be?
  • Should it have an arbatrary aspect, or completely obvious in meaning?
  • Should it connect to the projects nature as a comic, or the use of time?
  • Lev Manovich’s Database Narrative theories coming into play, “database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human culture, each claims an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world.” [Manovich.5]

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Displaying a final project:

  • Eisner’s theory of the ‘Meta Panel’ taking form in the shape of the monitor, rather than a page. “the panels will be part of what Eisner called the “meta-panel”, in which the whole page is a panel into which the other panels have been inserted.” [Kamen.2015]
  • How will the button be positioned?
  • Further away may intrigue the user to seek out what has been triggered, but will also cause the audience to have to break imersion to attempt to read the panels.
  • Next to the screen gives the user a direct corrolation to the artifact, but may cause some disoriantation, meaning they may have to keep stepping backwards and forwards just to interacte, and then see the artifact.
  • If possitioned on a plinth, possitioning will have to be given a great amount of focus and attention as to not obstruct the artifact or be confused with another display.
  • Kamen, M. (2015) Alan Moore: ‘Electricomics’ is groundbreaking, but print is still superior. co.uk. [Online] 29th September. Available from:  http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-09/29/electricomics-alan-moore-interview [Last Accessed: 07/12/16]
  • Manovich, L. (1999) Database as a symbolic Form. Millennium Film Journal No.34 http://courses.ischool.berkeley.edu/i290-1/s04/readings/manovich_database.pdf [Last Accessed: 07/12/2016]

Meta-Panels and Will Eisner – Notes

“There’s something about the way McKay uses his panel layouts which is substantially different to Eisner’s. Eisner was using exploded panels, for instance, where you had beautiful visuals but the whole page has an overall design so that it looks like Moroccan alleyways with lots of brickwork and the panels will be part of what Eisner called the “meta-panel”, in which the whole page is a panel into which the other panels have been inserted. It looks beautiful on the printed page but it doesn’t translate into the new medium anywhere near as well. What McKay would do is use regular panel shapes, which makes it much easier to tell stories in this medium than the irregular, organic shapes Eisner used. It worked beautifully on the printed page, no argument that Eisner was one of the sublime geniuses of the medium. But McKay was my way into thinking about this new medium because it’s all about movement.” [Kamen.2015]

  • Kamen, M. (2015) Alan Moore: ‘Electricomics’ is groundbreaking, but print is still superior. co.uk. [Online] 29th September. Available from:  http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-09/29/electricomics-alan-moore-interview [Last Accessed: 07/12/16]

Lev Manovich – Database as symbolic form

Many new media objects do not tell stories; they don’t have beginning or end; in fact, they don’t have any development, thematically, formally or otherwise which would organize their elements into a sequence. Instead, they are collections of individual items, where every item has the same significance as any other. [Manovich.:1]

In computer science database is defined as a structured collection of data. [Manovich.1]

As a cultural form, database represents the world as a list of items and it refuses to order this list. In contrast, a narrative creates a cause-and-effect trajectory of seemingly unordered items (events).Therefore, database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human culture, each claims an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world. [Manovich.5]

Database becomes the center of the creative process in the computer age. Historically, the artist made a unique work within a particular medium. Therefore the interface and the work were the same; in other words, the level of an interface did not exist. With new media, the content of the work and the interface become separate. It is therefore possible to create different interfaces to the same material. [Manovich.6]

However, in the world of new media, the word “narrative” is often used as all-inclusive term, to cover up the fact that we have not yet developed a language to describe these new strange objects. It is usually paired with another over-used word —interactive. Thus, a number of database records linked together so that more than one trajectory is possible, is assumed to be constitute “interactive narrative.” But to just create these  trajectories is of course not sufficient; the author also has to control the semantics of the elements and the logic of their connection so that the resulting object will meet the criteria of narrative as outlined above. [Manovich.6]

 

Manovich, L. (1999) Database as a symbolic Form. Millennium Film Journal No.34 http://courses.ischool.berkeley.edu/i290-1/s04/readings/manovich_database.pdf

Distant Reading Practice: Metropolis (2001) – Rooftop Scene.

Binary opposites:

  • Light and Shadow,
  • Robot and Organic,
  • Angelic and Mortal,
  • New and Old,
  • Clean and Used,
  • Innocent and Corrupted,

Tima begins sat in the shadows, and is suddenly enveloped in light, her body glowing. The radiating light gives her an angelic quality. She is situated above the residents of the underground, in addition to the light radiating from her, this positioning shows her as a higher being, the bird landing on her shoulder, providing her wings. An Angel, looking down on the poor mortals. Tima, while appearing human, is a robotic being, created with a greater purpose than to simply live as a human, this moment of angelic purity, looking down on the citizens, helps to emphasis Tima’s position among them. She appears the same, but stands apart.

  • Mishcat (2016) Metropolis (2001) – Tima Rooftop Scene. [Online Video] June 4th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BruJQz8LCM [Last Accessed: 28/11/2016]
  • Metropolis (2016) Film. Directed by Rintaro. [DVD] JP. Madhouse Production.

A Roundtable on Lost Girls. Hosted by P. Sandifier – Critical Analysis [Practice]

The nature and subject matter of Alan Moore’s Lost Girls [Moore, Gebbie.2006] is one that as a society, we shy away from discussing due to its sometimes uncomfortable, and deeply personal nature. ImageSext: A Roundtable on Lost Girls, attempts to break that silence by bringing together four different perspective on the book as a whole, in Sandifier’s own words “the single most important thing to do with Lost Girls [is] to talk about it” [Sandifier.2007:1] and that “talking about Lost Girls is like talking about sex: you’re never quite done.” [Sandifier.2007:10]

The discussions introduction explores previous attempts at discussing similar subject matters including the work of Linda Williams, such as Hard Core [Williams.1999], Tijuana Bibles, and Omaha the Cat Dancer [Waller, Worley. 1978 – 2006], providing a framework for the length and depth of the following discussion, as well as a template for some of the comparisons that will later be made. Rightfully so, the introduction also attempts to define pornography before beginning to dissect Lost Girls, castigating the “I know it when I see it” [Sandifier.2007:8] attitude. That the low opinion and hush tones Pornography is spoken with, is simply a result of a “fumbling inadequacy of talking about sex” [Sandifier.2009:9]. It is stated towards the end of Sandifier’s introduction, that each of the participates had read each other’s work, before submitting their final contribution, with participates referencing their colleagues at certain intervals. This inter communication between participants, helps to strengthen the notion that works such as Lost Girls, and even subjects such as pornography and sex should be openly discussed.

Kenneth Kidd’s Down the Rabbit Hole [Kidd.2007], the first of the accompanied essays, takes a more psychological approach when discussing Lost Girls. Choosing to discuss the Freudian implications of Lost Girls core appropriations, that of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland [Carroll.1865], Peter Pan [Barrie.1911], and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz [Baum.1900], particularly the paedophilic implications and accusations towards both Carroll and Barrie. Relating the pop culture position all three works hold in the public consciousness, and the multiple incarnations of each. Kidd quotes Booker when stating that “In the first discourse, Carroll is a sainted innocent, his books are joyous nonsense and Alice is his muse. In the other, Carroll is a paedophile, his books are dark allegories, and Alice is his obsession” [Kidd.2007:1], also mentioning artefacts and collectives, such as the child pornographer ring The Wonderland Club, to demonstrate that Moore and Gebbie are by no means the first to imply sexual undertones and content within these children’s stories. Kidd states that Moore and Gebbie’s interpretation is not a corruption of the original characters, but to allow them to become adults in themselves, “They rework key elements and themes to clever, often poignant effect, especially the shared preoccupation with innocence, desire and the problem of growing up” [Kidd.2007:2]. This is shown as a stark contrast to previous pornographic parodies, such as adult films and before mentioned Tijuana Bibles, believing that “Lost Girls succeeds not because it deviates from the originals but because it is perversely faithful to them” [Kidd.2007:2]. Kidd relates this to a term used in a colleagues article, Chris Eklund’s Magical Realism of the Fuck [Eklund.2007].

When discussing the three leads, Kidd describes Alice as “psychologically wounded yet sexually empowered” [Kidd.2007:4], referring to the portrayal of Alice’s molestation at the hands of Carroll, but here position as the ringleader in the books proceedings, initiating acts of sex and encouraging their storytelling. Moore paints Alice as someone who is affected by her past, even stating to have recently gotten out of an institution, but not one defined by them, her painful origin with the subject does not hold her back from enjoying it now. Notably, Kidd focuses much more heavily on the character of Alice, rather than Wendy or Dorothy.

Kidd attempts to explain the reasoning for using Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and The Wizard of Oz specifically. Kidd notes all three books place in the public consciousness, the idea that “Peter Pan, Alice, and Dorothy now also serve as poster children for queer theory” [Kidd.2007:8], and the time in which the books were written. Referencing Collins essay, History, Pornography and Lost Girls [Collins.2007], referring to them as “both Victorian and modern in its overall pornographic nature” [Collins.2007:1].

  • Barrie, J. (1911) Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Hodder & Stoughton. London.
  • Baum, L. (1900) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. George M. Hill Company. Chicago.
  • Booker, W. (2005) Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture. New York.
  • Carroll, L. (1865) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London
  • Collins, M. (2007) History, Pornography and Lost Girls. [Online] ImageText Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. Available from: http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v3_3/lost_girls/collins.shtml [Last Accessed: 26/11/2016]
  • Eklund, C. (2007) A Magical Realism of the Fuck. [Online] ImageText Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. Available From: http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v3_3/lost_girls/eklund.shtml [Last Accessed: 24/11/2016]
  • Kidd, K. (2007) Down the Rabbit Hole. [Online] ImageText Interdisciplinary Comic Studies. Available From: http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v3_3/lost_girls/kidd.shtml [Last Accessed: 24/11/2016]
  • Moore, A. & Gebbie, M. (2006) Lost Girls. Top Shelf Productions. Georgia.
  • Sandifier, P. (2007) ImageSexT: A Roundtable on Lost Girls. [Online] ImageTexT Interdisciplinary Comics Studies. Available from: http://www.english.ufl.edu/imagetext/archives/v3_3/lost_girls/ [Last Accessed: 24/11/2016]
  • Waller, R. & Worley, R. (1978 – 2006) Omaha The Cat Dancer. Kitchen Sink. Wisconsin.
  • Williams, L. (1989) Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the “Frenzy of the Visible”. University of California Press. California.

Critical Analysis – Concergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins.

  • Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture. Where Old and New Media Collide. New York University Press. New York. [Pg. 103 – 106]

Henry Jenkins is considered to be at the forefront in the realm of transmedia storytelling, being the man who first coined the term. His book Convergence Culture is noted as a landmark work due to its exploration of the blurring boundaries of media and fan participation, however, it’s his chapter on transmedia storytelling, Searching for the Origami Unicorn, that holds particular interest, as he examines The Matrix as an example of the strengths and weaknesses of constructing a transmedia universe.

Jenkins criticises the amount of faith the creators had in the casual viewer and in the draw of their own franchise by insinuating that the mystery of The Matrix would be so appealing, that the audience would feel compelled to seek out the answers. Though even when the films were released as DVDs, he notes that only the dedicated fans would actively attempt to piece together the missing information. While analysing interviews, Jenkins describes the method in which the directors and writers confusingly instructed the actor in the nature of the franchises transmedia aspects, actors even admitting that they were uncertain which scenes were being filmed for which media, implying the franchises flawed execution in regards to its storytelling method.

The subchapter, ‘Synergistic Storytelling’, opens by highlighting The Matrix’s grand overarching story, likening it to Casablanca to the nth degree, referring to the series creators, The Wachowskis, wanting to wind the story across a wide variety of media to create a compelling whole. Using examples from both The Matrix animated shorts and video games, Jenkins tracks both, the story of the Osiris crew, and the character of the Kids. Details and events that would only be known to someone who has engaged with both The Animatrix shorts, The Kid’s Story and The Final Flight of the Osiris shorts in particular, and the Enter The Matrix video game, but are included in the main films as arbitrary details, rather than defined characters. Comparing the storytelling style to both the old Hollywood system, dependant on redundancy to ensure that the audience can follow the plot at all times, and the demands of New Hollywood, for the audience to remain in constant focus to the how and why of the story. Jenkins draws particular emphasis on the introduction of The Kid in The Matrix Reloaded, especially given his significance in the final film, The Matrix Revolution, The Kid’s introduction and opening exchange with Neo, the franchises main character, is staged as though the audience is meant to understand and appreciate that the two have a long and important history together, that the scene is written for established characters, confusing the average audience member. A notable failure in regards to transmedia storytelling, as it now leaves the audience with only two options, to actively seek out the backstory behind this exchange just to make sense of it, or to continue as a confused spectator.

During Jenkins exploration of these failings, a second exploration is going on across the sides of each page. In this example, Jenkins chooses to examine The Blair Witch Project, one of the first transmedia projects to enter the public dialogue. Contrasting The Matrix with The Blair Witch provides us with a set of binary oppositions, creating the perfect counter point to the transmedia attempts of the Wachowskis. While both had their first major instalment in 1999, The Matrix had a much higher budget, and a high profile production company to back it, The Blair Witch was an independent venture, with a miniscule budget and significantly shorter shooting schedule, totalling 8 days. Dan Myrick and Ed Sanchez used their assets to the best of their ability, instead of relying on a potentially non-existent audience, they actively spread the information themselves, taking the role of active fans themselves. While stating that they viewed the sire and spin-offs as a form of marketing, they still viewed them as an integral part of the experience. Jenkins points out that the creators awareness of how effective transmedia storytelling can be, and the understanding that not every consumer will dive deep to attempt to solve the films secrets, in interviews the creators note that, what they learned from Blair Witch is that if you give people enough people enough material to explore, they will explore. However, unlike the Wachowski’s, Myrick and Sanchez understood that not everyone will take advantage of this, but those who do will explore the whole world provided. Jenkins uses this example to point out the Wachowski’s failings in the transmedia landscape. The Wachowski’s assumption that by leaving plot holes open, and using their higher budget to create such supplementary materials, would guarantee the audiences compulsion to explore such material. By contrasting The Matrix with Blair Witch, Jenkins is juxtaposing it with its extreme opposite.

The way Jenkins crafts his work, particularly in this example, attempts to point out and acknowledge the failings that can come from crafting a transmedia story in a poor manor, but not only recognising the shortcomings, but contrasting them with a better crafted or less reliant example. The choice of comparing two franchises at the same time, on the same page, allows for a visual juxtaposition as well as a counterpoint in content, the choice of Blair Witch in particular compares two franchises released at the same time, allows for something such as cultural viewpoint to be a non-issue, allowing for certain elements such as technological advancements to be far less of a defining factor. Jenkins is thorough in regards to his research, delving through, and mentioning, as many relevant spin-off pieces of media as can be found, as well as interviews and articles relating, both directly and indirectly, to the desired transmedia aspect of both The Matrix and The Blair Witch Project, giving us a thorough and relevant overview for his comparisons and analysis.

Webcomics: The Influence and Continuation of the Comix Revolution by Fenty, Houp & Taylor

With the prevalence of the internet, readers find themselves with the ability to retrieve older, out of print works, or overshadowed works with greater ease than before, whether it be through scans, websites or sites such as eBay and Amazon. “The internet has given rise to a new generation of comic artists who use the internet as their sole means of production and distribution.” [Fenty, Houp, Taylor.2004] This use of the internet as a distribution system, sidestepping the larger publishers, mirrors what came to be known as Underground Comics.

Mentions Gary Groth, Scott McCloud and Charles Brownstein.

The Freedom of independent publishing via the internet, allows creators to be far more free with the choice of subject matter as they do not have to feel the constriction of appealing to a broad demographic. This also shares parallels with underground comics, such as the work of Robert Crum and later, Charles Burns, as their print runs were relatively small, appealed to a much smaller demographic than the mainstream publishers, and covered much more polerising subject matters, such as politics, sex and drugs. “The web allows webcomic creators to write comics with content which is outside of the acceptable bounds for typical mass-released comics.” [Fenty, Houp, Taylor.2004]

The authors attempt to define webcomics as comics made for the web first, with a single or small group of creators, with no originally printed version and no corporate sponsor. The freedom webcomics are given through their lack of sponsor and distribution methods, allow for even the art style to vary wildly. Allowing creators to use assets such as game sprites and more exploratory art styles, frequently parodying “popular culture, video games, and table-top role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons” [Fenty, Houp, Taylor.2004] some focusing on subcultures within cultures, making their desired audiences even smaller. While the writers attempts to define webcomics relies on the definition given by Scott McCloud, they do not use it as it’s only evidence. The authors draw their own definition in parallel by comparing existing webcomics to the underground comix movement. Fenty, Houp and Taylor go into depth of both the limitation of traditional printed comics, and the freedoms awarded to digital comics, regarding things such as space limitations and cost. Borrowing from the works of Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics, and Bill Watterson’s The Cheapening of Comics.