“What else do we notice […]? Two-tier storytelling. Isn’t it strange how all three teams have gone to two-tier, independent of each other?
Maybe not. You’ve cut the print page in half. If you want each screen to make sense as a discrete entity, you have to respect the cut. If you want each screen to contain enough information to make it worth reading, you need a strategy to maximise your panelling. And if you want to be able to stretch out and get a big picture in there while still maintaining storytelling coherency, you’ve kind of got to go wide on the page.”
—Warren Ellis, from a fascinating post on formatting comics for reading in multiple formats, especially tablet, phone, web interface, and of course good old print. Ideas of modularity in comics composition make a lot of sense, when you consider the nested way they’re built fundamentally, in terms of discrete objects: images > panels > pages and on up.
Ellis touches on some recent comics designed for multiple platforms, including Mark Waid and Peter Krause’s new Insufferable, which has gotten some attention for being Waid’s big public splash into making webcomics. While I’m generally suspcious of Big Public Splashes, especially from old media into new media, new thinking is always a good thing. I’m especially interested in Warren Ellis’s ideas on format, as he’s been an early adopter of new formats for years and has a pretty clear-eyed thinking when it comes to what is possible and what should be possible in a given format.