Digital Comics Symposium

I took a trip to Hertfordshire today, to attend, and speak at The Electricomics Symposium. Unfortunately, I had to leave early, but what I did see was absolutely amazing. Big thanks to Dan Goodbrey, Leah Moore and all at Electricomics and the Uni for putting on such a quality event.

Quick summary/overview:

Keynote from Electricomics team:

  • A giant, pre-recorded Alan Moore addressed us from a video feed on two giant screens
  • Leah Moore gave an overview on the formation of the project
  • Dan Goodbrey gave a great roundup of digital comics’ rich history prior to the arrival of the iPad. (Dan’s been doing this stuff for years before it was fashionable!)
  • Ed Moore, Giulia Alfonsi and Sean Gannon of Ocasta Studios discussed the code, design decisions and the inevitable compromises (expertly chosen, IMO) in getting the project out of the gate.

Liz Dowthwaite spoke about her research on the community and economics of WebComics, from her ongoing PhD research. I was struck by the fact that these webcomics exist outside of the superhero bubble in terms of target audience – the utopia I’ve been babbling about already exists. Interesting side by side comparison of Patreon and Kickstarter too, with some numbers (that I didn’t write down). WebComics seem to do rather well on both platforms.

Prof. Vitor Blotta from University of Sao Paolo, Brazil, discussed two comics in his country that are addressing social injustices in a powerful way. (We also discussed afterwards cases where comics can be used for evil too!)

Zak Waipara, from New Zealand, described his engaging transmedia project (motion comic, interactive comic, game) aimed at educating about Maori language and heritage. (Zak learned to speak the language as an adult).

Pablo Defendini blew me away with a talk on his CSS framework for presenting semantically meaningful comics, with foreground and background images, captions and SVG balloons featuring real text! Responsive, rescalable to different device form factors too. He has demos online.

Then it was me. Talking Creativity within Constraints. I’ll write this up in detail after Kendal. In the meantime, a few links I referred to in my talk:

Then publisher Marcus Pullen & Dr Blair Dickinson demonstrated their quantitative approach to comics, building up heat maps of user activity on a page based on eyeball tracking, pupil dilation (to measure emotional engagement), and direct brainwave measurements. 
I had to leave at that point, so missed two further panels, will catch up on youtube once they’re up.

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