Monday, February 9, 2009

Blood in the gutter

Finally, a new blog entry. I’m such a bad blogger.

I simply had to say something about this blog post about the Uclick for the iPhone. Uclick basically offers comics for sale on the iPhone, switching the page-by-page format of comic books for a panel-by-panel approach so each panel fits the screen.

For some reason, it led to the blogger declaring paper comics obsolete, adding: ‘No longer are you accidentally viewing a frame or two ahead because of the nature of multi-panel pages; you're actually able to see it panel-by-panel — just like the artists originally created it’. And this is coming from a comic fan.

Now, please, buy a copy of McCloud’s Understanding Comics or Eisner’s Comics And Sequential Art and you’ll see that the space between panels (the so-called gutter) and the positioning of panels on a page are what makes a comic a comic. They are the, in part, the language of this art form.

Breaking up a comic page into separate, isolated panels destroys at least part of the experience of reading a comic. Just imagine having to read Watchmen panel-by-panel. *shudder*

At the same time, Uclick’s approach makes it impossible for itself to include comics which actively play with panel size or shape, overlapping panels or a lack of panels. This in and of itself is prove enough that a panel-by-panel approach to reproducing comics is just nonsense. It may work with some comics (and Uclick apparently works with the comic’s creators to make a panel-by-panel version), but it utterly fails with many more.

Now, I do not have an iPhone but I have tried to read digitized versions of paper comics on my laptop(s), Nokia N95 and PSP and it usually is a horrible experience. From what I’ve read, Uclick does not change this, nor does it make traditional comics obsolete.

Instead, it changes, even destroys hem at their core, leaving 'blood in the gutter', to use McCloud's title for his chapter on the importance of panels.

But hey, there’s no stopping apple fanboys in believing in its merits anyway.