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Thread: Print comics that can only be print comics

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  1. #1

    Print comics that can only be print comics

    Thought it might be worth talking about this on the day DC relaunches their fictional universe, and, more importantly to this discussion, starts selling their comics digitally on the same day as the print versions. (In the States anyway - here in Aus we get our print comics on Fridays, due to air freight times, but, interestingly, it looks like I'll be able to buy Justice League online at the same time as everyone else. Also note - this isn't meant to be a dig at digital comics, I love them too.)

    So, as digital comics become more normal, what are some things that only print can do?

    The first thing that came to mind was Warren Ellis*, D'Israeli and design group BERG's SVK.

    Read about it: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1664407/...ensitive-pages

    Buy it: http://berglondon.com/products/svk/

    It's just about perfect. Self contained story about a private investigator being asked to track down a device that can do something special [not saying what], and by using a UV light you can see different things printed on the page.

    The effect of having a double narrative *could* be done in digital, but Ellis, D'Israeli and BERG have worked so hard to create a complete world, it just wouldn't be the same. The design of the UV light device fits perfectly with the story of the comic. Using it makes you fee like you're part of that universe. Even the packaging the comic and UV device come in is spot on.

    You *could* do SVK in digital, but it wouldn't be anywhere near as good.

    Any others?

    N

    *Every now and then I feel like I should point out that I'm not related to him. As far as I'm aware. This is one of those thens.

  2. #2
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    Re: Print comics that can only be print comics

    //You *could* do SVK in digital, but it wouldn't be anywhere near as good. //

    I don't know about that. I mean, I love paper, but you can do all sorts of things in digital that you can't do in paper and saying they wouldn't be as "good"...? Well, I think that's highly subjective.

    I mean, you could do the very same thing with a digital comic and not have to deal with flashlights (Ellis and the Berg guys are friends of ours--we love them and love SVK, I should say), something like 10% of which shipped defective, causing readers to have to send them back for replacements and further biting into the bottom line.

    In a digital comic, you can imbed creator commentary in mouse-over. You could have the same kind of secret writing available in mouse-over. You could have a soundtrack. Links for references. You could do everything SVK could do and more. Which isn't to say that SVK shouldn't exist and wasn't wonderful, but just that... ultimately we love paper because we love paper and we love things we can hold. Not because paper's got magic properties.

    Right now I've got a book on my kindle that I'm going to buy in paperback. (It's not a comic.) I hate double-dipping, but it's the kind of book that you refer to without reading in order. Navigating through it, FLIPPING through it looking for visual cues is something I can't really do well with the digital copy. Since the advent of the tablet, I get to hold my digital book, so for me, for now, that interior navigation thing is the bit that argues for the conventional format.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Sue
    Which isn't to say that SVK shouldn't exist and wasn't wonderful, but just that... ultimately we love paper because we love paper and we love things we can hold. Not because paper's got magic properties.
    Ok, point - it's not actually the paper or necessarily the printing that made the SVK experience. I'm still going to argue that SVK *specifically* worked better as a printed comic that you pointed something physical at, because that's what the story is about (sort of - swapping a torch for contact lenses). The story was about something you could touch and hold, and having that all tie in made me love it.

    (Admittedly, I'm a complete sucker for physical artefacts of fictional things, as evidenced by my dropping an extra fifty bucks on a satchel bag because it's purportedly from the same stock that they used for Raiders...)

    And yeah, it is subjective, but the faulty equipment aside (which clearly would have ruined the effect), that experience tied in so well for me that I honestly don't think I'd have had the same experience if it was digital. If it was a story about a being able to feel emotional tracks left by someone in their online presence, then maybe? I dunno. I've had similar experiences with digital for sure - Scott McCloud's infinite canvas Zot hit me a lot harder than the paper Zot collection.

    Also, I hadn't factored the business side of things in at all and don't really know enough about the economics of a project like SVK to comment on if it would have a better chance digitally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Sue
    Right now I've got a book on my kindle that I'm going to buy in paperback. (It's not a comic.) I hate double-dipping, but it's the kind of book that you refer to without reading in order. Navigating through it, FLIPPING through it looking for visual cues is something I can't really do well with the digital copy. Since the advent of the tablet, I get to hold my digital book, so for me, for now, that interior navigation thing is the bit that argues for the conventional format.
    I know what you mean about flipping through a book as opposed to a tablet. That said, I'm not sure I do that as much with comics, it's more a non-fiction/reference behaviour for me - is there anything specific to comics that works only in print? I'm struggling to think of anything that's not as weirdly specific as SVK.

    Also, I'm not at all a print nostalgist. Got an iPad this year and I completely agree re: holding and reading. I will deliberately send things to it to read and I can have an entire library in my bag, not to mention whatever I can read online.

    N

    EDITED TO ADD: Re: double dipping - don't think I've done it yet, but I'm in grave danger of *triple* dipping with the audiobook as well as print and digital. Have double dipped with audiobooks a lot because while I love them, it is a completely different experience and not at all useful for something like reference.
    Last edited by nickellis; 08-31-2011 at 08:15 AM.

  4. #4
    I don't know, man. No hate but that UV thing sounds kind of gimmicky to me.

    Maybe I'm in the minority but I don't really think digital books or vice versa need to provide wildly different experiences. In fact, I am a bit worried that publishers are going to go so far with added bells and whistles that digital comics don't even seem like comics anymore.
    "Sh - no - brick"

  5. #5
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    Re: Print comics that can only be print comics

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Schnobrich View Post
    I don't know, man. No hate but that UV thing sounds kind of gimmicky to me.
    It's much better than it sounds. If it was anybody but the people who did it, I wouldn't trust it either.

    And I get it with the bells and whistles, but as a fan of DVD commentary tracks, I really like to think about the possibilities.

  6. #6

    Re: Print comics that can only be print comics

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Sue View Post
    And I get it with the bells and whistles, but as a fan of DVD commentary tracks, I really like to think about the possibilities.
    No doubt. I've enjoyed many DVD commentaries over the years and stuff like optional annotations and linkable Wikis do seem cool. I love the comics medium pretty much more than any other form of storytelling. That's why I hope they don't take it too far because at a certain point it will cease to be comics and will be onto something else entirely.
    "Sh - no - brick"

  7. #7
    Chiseler beamish's Avatar
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    #double dipping; this only happens when I buy a trade of something I bought the issues of or when they release an updated Star Wars (I think I l10dipped that one)

    SVK was gimmicky, but also straight-dope awesome. The all around production is wonderful, and I was lucky enough to not be one of the poor folks with a busted torch.

  8. #8
    Another thing that digital comics could do that print would struggle with: combining narratives.

    Eg: Being able to read something like Fear Itself and all it's spin offs cut together into a massive narrative, or separately, by selecting an option.

    You can do this yourself, to a degree, with single issues, but you have a lot more flexibility with digital.

    Also, the superhero crossover is just an example - the sort of narrative within narrative effects used in say, Watchmen (Black Freighter, text pieces), could be done really well in digital.

    Which then goes back to - is there *anything* print does better?

  9. #9

    Re: Print comics that can only be print comics

    Quote Originally Posted by nickellis View Post
    Which then goes back to - is there *anything* print does better?
    Double page spreads.
    "Sh - no - brick"

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Schnobrich

    Double page spreads.
    Word.

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