Electricomics – The Digital Revolution of Comics.

ElectricomicsWhat we know as comic books have existed since the 1930’s. They have been described as “a technology all its own”, “that [have] been accumulating and progressing”[Kamen. 2015] ever since. Longer if you consider early cave paintings a form of comic. But, as the mediums of television and film have evolved with the ever changing abilities of modern technology, Comics seem to have remained engraved purely in ink and paper. Even with the ubiquitous use of e-readers and e-book apps, comic apps have been content to simply “replicate the experience of the printed page” [Barnett. 2015].

Fuelled, while developing a small film, by a disdain that when you “create a film these days””you’re expected to ‘realise it’ upon multiple platforms” [Kamen. 2015]. Alan Moore, a noted comic book writer, together with other writers and academics, such as Leah Moore, John Reppion and Daniel Goodbrey, began to “create something within the imaginary world and see if it could be imported to the non-imaginary world” [Kamen. 2015]. The original idea eventually evolved into the ‘Electricomics App’, an attempt to “[take] digital comics to a whole new level” [Barnett.2015].

W69d61c82-610c-4f6b-893e-9b5e88885b88-620x372hile most would point to the likes of Marvels own comic app as a pre-existing expansion of this idea, the only thing unique the app would offer would be the ability to zoom in and out of panels for a somewhat better look (depending on the quality of the image). To many this would be the obvious use, while neglecting to incorporate anything else that the medium such as a mobile tablet can offer. In an interview with Wired, Alan Moore described wanting to “show the possibilities of this new medium, beyond the obvious idea[s]” [Kamen. 2015] and using this as a way to “redefine what comics are in the 21st century” [Kamen. 2015].

Allowing creators to integrate the abilities a tablet can offer, has created not only an evolution in comics but a “final product [that] blends influences from traditional comics, animation, games and film into something that almost defies categorisation” [Kamen. 2015] to the point that Moore himself has stated that he’s “not sure what we’re doing is even comics” [Kamen. 2015].

marvel1The general shape of the tablet itself, a rectangle, could even be used in this manner as an extension of what Will Eisner, creator of the 1940’s comic ‘The Spirit’, described as the ‘meta-panel’, “in which the whole page is a panel into which the other panels have been inserted” [Kamen. 2015]. Following on from Eisner’s work and style, Moore has stated that the obvious ideas of adding sound and slight motion to a comic have already been done, in the likes of motion comics or the audio options that Marvel and DC apps have come to offer, “Eisner already gives you sound and motion. To realize it in a high-tech manner is redundant” [Kamen. 2015]. The interactivity a tablet can offer, such as touch screen capabilities, gyroscope sensors and brightness adjustments hold a whole new host of possibilities ready to be taken advantage of. Since its release in September of 2015, the app as well as its companion generator, have been downloaded and used by several third parties and industry professionals, all trying to reinvent what we view as a digital comic. Though the app itself may be seen by some as unnecessary and “the novelty of the interaction [may] threaten to dump the reader out of the story as well, but perhaps that’s the price of innovation.” [Barnett. 2015], others, including myself, see it as “the first glimpse of a new beginning for digital comics” [Barnett. 2015]