To celebrate the launch of Upgrade Soul, here’s a screen shot of an eleven year old prototype I made that sets artwork from Will Eisner’s “The Treasure of Avenue ‘C’” (a story from New York: The Big City) in two dynamically resizable panels. At the time I was deep in production on Chroma, but my head was also ringing with inspiration from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, and emboldened by a generous conversation with the man himself (who had been recently asked to comment by a New York Times reporter on whether Chroma was a graphic novel. The verdict? No, and rightly so).
It struck me that it would be pretty cool to make a comic with panels that could be resized, so I scanned in Eisner’s work and put this test together (complete with little window resizing icons in the lower-right corners to grab on to). Digital comics have been a passion for me ever since.
Dialogue bubbles huddle together in the Unity authoring environment like backstage theatre performers awaiting their chance to shine in the forthcoming iOS and Android release Upgrade Soul, from Opertoon.
It’s been a long time in coming, but I’m very happy to announce the official launch of Precision Targets, a collaboration with scholar Caren Kaplan that uses a hybrid comic/essay format to explore the militarization of everyday life through technologies like GPS. Precision Targets places the user inside a cube containing six parallel stories told through interactive comic panels that are married to threads of commentary by Kaplan.
Precision Targets was my first collaboration with illustrator Ezra Claytan Daniels, and my first experiment with digital comics. Each story consists of four panels which can be browsed by rotating a cube. Individual panels (some of which contain animation and interactivity) can be entered and navigated with the mouse. Every panel has associated commentary by Kaplan which can be expanded by clicking “more”. Clicking “more” again further expands the commentary to a full-screen view for more in-depth reading, making it possible for users to switch between visual, textual, or hybrid reading modes at will. (Be sure to try adjusting the window size; the piece will adapt to whatever aspect ratio you like.)
One element of the project that can be easily missed is the Index, a force-directed SpringGraph visualization of the image and textual elements that make up the piece (you can access this feature by clicking “Menu” and then “Index"). You’ll see the individual graphic elements that make up each panel linked together in an interactive network diagram—to my knowledge, the first time a visualization like this has been applied to the individual layers of comic book panels (feel free to correct me if I’m in error).
This project was conceived before the current “motion comics” trend, so I’m very curious what people will think of the approach, which takes a different tack than most works labeled as such.
Got the happy news yesterday that Ruben & Lullaby snagged a nomination in the Independent Games Festival Mobile. A lot of midnight oil was burned trying to make the entry deadline--I’m grateful for the response, and all props to Ezra Claytan Daniels for his beautiful artwork for the game (see this post for links to some of his really excellent graphic novel work). It’s been about 10 years since I was last at the Game Developer’s Conference (while working at Inscape on games like The Dark Eye), so It’ll be good to be there again, especially now that it’s held in San Francisco.
Well, almost exactly six months after I got my iPhone, I’m happy to announce that Ruben & Lullaby, my first game for the iPhone and iPod touch, is now available on the App Store. Ruben & Lullaby is the first of a planned series of “opertoons"--stories you play like musical instruments--and I’m very excited about how this project has turned out. Many thanks to Ezra Claytan Daniels, who did the wonderful illustrations for the project and has been a great collaborator along the way. Thanks also to beta testers George Loyer, Mitchell Whitelaw, and Greg J. Smith for invaluable feedback.