Digital Comics

By Rio

You're a small time manga creator, a newbie in the world of comics, and you've just made the greatest original manga ever! You'd like to share it with others and you decide to show it to your friends and family. Some think it's great and encourage you on while some think it's ludicrous and pointless. After bouts of glory, depression, uncertainty, and gluttony due to mixed feedback, you finally decided to share it with others who'd be more understanding... manga creators, anime enthusiasts; the good old natured otaku; just like you. 
The answer: the internet via a web page. Next thing, you pop in your traditional comic formatted manga, scan it and presto! Instant digital comic!

Wait! Stop right there! Good boy.. now play dead! LOL (Just making sure you're paying attention ^_~) Seems like this would be the way to go right? WRONG! 

This is the part where everything can happen- anything at all!- to your comic. It can stay as it was, just as you drew it into those pieces of paper OR it can take another route.. one that will make it shine and stand out from the sea of digital comics... where you get a chance to reinvent comics!

Still interested? Read on:

In this part, I'll be covering the first type of digital comics that I have seen so far. The third is a cross between static and dynamic and there is a fourth that is the ultimate format available in the web. Each type is as different as the other in one way or another. Types are for both black and white or colored comics.

Deciding on which format you'll use depends on you. 

If you prefer the simple, easy-to-make, no time at all digital comic, choose the first type. The flashiest, trickiest to make, and time consuming type is the third one. If you'd prefer the overall great digital comic without eating up your time, choose the second type.

Page 1Type 1: Traditional Formatted Page
The size of a regular 8 1/2 x 11" for each vertical page of the comic will be displayed on one web page. Usually, this page size is reduced using a graphic software causing the quality of the image to be reduced. The smaller the image becomes, the poorer the quality. Just look at this picture to the right. It's too small to read clearly now.

If the page is kept to the original size, the image may be similar to the original but the file size is enormous! Not good for web surfers with 28.8Kbps, particularly. OK for 56.6Kbps surfers but why wait? It's a cinch for DSL, wireless, or cable modems though.

Page 2Also, if kept to the original size, there will be people who'll have problems of scrolling left and right as well as up and down. This can be quite aggravating at times and if done too often, may deter future visitors. Though you can reduce the size, the quality will deteriorate.. it's a give and take issue.

There are variations like the manga pages up there. These, instead of the regular 8 1/2 x 11" size vertical paper, it is turned to the side and now becomes a horizontal 8 1/2 x 11" page. Instead of reducing the page now, it will fit the browser screen of your monitor. Just click on the pictures for the bigger version.

The vertical type pages are the simplest type to make and transfer into a digital comic. You can keep it for making more copies of your work in comic book form by copying it. And just scan and transfer into a web page for all the world to see.

Trail Digital ComicType 2: Digitally Formatted Pages
Developed by Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics, the latter in which I found this idea, this type of comic is practically almost freeform in nature. 

The whole web page is the boundaries for the comic as the size of the paper is the boundaries for the traditional comic format. The possibilities! You can infinitely go right and infinitely go down. Though this may be the case, I would suggest you keep to the size of the browser horizontally- so surfers won't have to use the left and right buttons- and just go infinitely down till you finish your story or a section of your story. The picture to the right is a visual example of what this will look like.

As you may notice, the format isn't exactly the same as the traditional panel-by-panel comic. This type of comic leads you from one panel to the next with, what McCloud has dubbed as, trails. The lines that move from one panel to the next. These trails may be a simple line or any detailed line as you can think of!

Another difference is that the trail can make you read from left to right, right to left, diagonally, and even up if the artist wishes. Otherwise, it basically goes downwards.

The panel layout is also affected differently due to its unusual format.

For more information about this type of digital format, please visit Scott McCloud's website. Better yet, go to your local library and see if they have a copy of his books - especially his second one!

There are also other types of digital comics that take this basic idea. For example, I've seen one where the panels go downwards in one's and two's till the next strip. Try experimenting and see where you can go.

Type 3: Digitally Presented Pages
This type of presentation is a cross from a static to a dynamic form of presentation. It works with presenting comics using Javascipt or DHTML.

In this format, you are able to view either 1) a panel of the comic and then click on a button to view the next panel, etc. or 2) a whole comic page and then click on a button to view the next page, etc.

An example of the first type is here to the left. Click on the >> button to move forward one panel and << to move back one panel.

The format that you choose ultimately, depends upon you. Do you prefer to present your comic in a comic strip format or a page by page comic? For a sample of a page by page type of comic presentation, check out ZWOL.org.

Type 4: Digital Pages
These types are made from Macromedia Flash. The software that allows you to create really neat animation effects. 

This is a great way to present your digital comics but it will take time to learn and then create your comic. I would only suggest you do this method if you are either a) a full-time artist and/or b) have a whole lot of time in your hands. If you are contemplating on doing one anyways, I would suggest you do a brief skit.

Also, most people don't have the Flash plug-in and it takes quite a bit of time to download. Most importantly, it also eats up bandwidth like nothing if you're be running a long series with a lot of extra quirks. If you're planning to set one up in your own domain name and get it hosted- prepare to spend a lot of money. This will eat up your funds quickly! 

There are several examples of Flash based comics. For now I know of Marvel. (There are other's I've come across but I'll have to find them again..)

There are different ways of presenting comics in Flash. Let your imagination wander. Think dynamic! You could even make your manga more like an anime if you really wanted to.



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