I am a teacher – I make word problems for breakfast. So when I saw this daily create challenge to make a cowboy word problem I knew that I could nail it. I found the perfect image, font and problem to convey my western theme, and the problem itself is straight out of my lesson plans for next week!
*THIS POST IS PART OF A CONTINUING SERIES OF RESPONSES TO SCHOLARLY TEXTS FOR LEARNING WITH DIGITAL STORIES, A MASTER LEVEL COURSE I AM ENROLLED IN AT UC DENVER.
The first task in selling decision makers on the value of comics as a tool for New Literacy education would be to connect comics as content to teach the multiple common core state standards (CCSS), preferably to shine a light on comics as the best content to use when teaching specific standards. Todd Finley at edutopia suggests comics are a good fit, as instruction content, for the visual literacies standard of the CCSS . In his article Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies, Finley suggest practical strategies for giving students time to practice and develop their visual literacy. His activities are simple but powerful and could be adapted for many different visuals – such as photographs and picture books, but I think that many of his strategies will be powerful to use in conjunction with comics because of the presence of text to support or refute inferences made from the visual art and the engaging qualities of comics themselves.
Finley suggest using two activities, Asking the 4ws and Visual Thinking Strategies, that would benefit because of comics are composed of both text and visuals. These activities ask the participants to make inferences about the images they are viewing. The participant benefits from the text in a comic in two ways. First the text can act as a scaffold for inferences about character motivations or emotions. Next, the text defines the narrative of the comic, like any book students read, the narrative empowers the reader to discover if their predictions and inferences were correct by reading the text.
Two more activities Finley suggests that would be powerful and engaging when paired with comics are Image Analysis Worksheets from The National Archives and the Working with Images That Matter protocol. These activities require the student to use higher order thinking to analyze images and discuss their meaning and relevance. These tasks are rigorous and require multiple viewings of the same image, to be successful in these tasks students need to be engaged in the image. Comics provide engaging visual content that supports student perseverance in completing the activity.
The activities suggested by Finley are userfeindly and would be great additions to any teacher’s toolbox for teaching visual literacy standards of the CCSS. Comics are a great way to introduce visual literacy standards, scaffold their instruction, and provide motivation for perseverance.
I feel that I am not old enough yet to be getting spam for burial life insurance but I guess I am wrong. I went dumpster diving in my spam folder to find something interesting for an audio creation assignment, that asked I record and transform a piece of spam. Interesting I think I found:
*THIS POST BELONGS TO A COLLECTION OF CRITIQUES OF DIGITAL COMICS AND RELATED MATERIAL, CREATED FOR A MASTER LEVER COURSE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER.
I have been searching out new digital comics to critique and determine if they are genuine digital comics, rather than traditional comics delivered digitally, by employing some questions and standards I developed here. I found quite a few but they did not work for my purpose. They were ether to similar to the digital comics I have recently reviewed or where not worth the time to critique them. As I dug deeper into I found a talk from Mark Waid, who is an award winning comic writer, discussing his vision for truly digital comics at the 2013 O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference.
Early on in my inquiry into digital comics I reviewed award winning writer/artist Scott McCloud’s TED talk on the same subject. I have become enamored with McCloud’s work around comics and how to re-imagine them for the digital environment, and was excited to find another prominent figure in the traditional comic publishing championing digital comics. So I eagerly decided to focus my discussion this week on Waid’s talk, have decided on three criteria to for my critique:
- Content understanding
- Originality, voice, creativity
Waid and McCloud’s visions for the future of digital comics are similar, both speakers agreed that the over use or relying on animation and sound/music would fundamentally change comics into Flash cartoons. These visions, however, are fundamentally different in the way comic are presented in the digital environment. I discuss McCloud’s concept of the infinite canvas here, Waid sees digital comics existing on digital pages where the static images and panels change without extensive scrolling in the digital plan. The comic panels fade in and out or have new static images layered on top of existing images to creating feelings of depth and motion. Waids comics tell stories in a fundamentally different way than traditional comics or even digital comics employing the infinite canvas concept.
As a successful and award winning contributor to the comic book industry Waid has first hand knowledge of how the traditional comic book industry work and insight into how comics should adapt to the digital environment. His laid back comfortable delivery appropriately conveys his confidence in discussing the topic. Waid illustrates his points about the evolution of digital comics using examples he created. He is able to describe the ways digital elements are used to fundamentally alter the way the story is told. His knowledge supports a convincing argument about the nature of authentic digital comics.
Originality, voice, creativity
I was surprised to see that this talk was 20+ minutes, which seemed long for a talk of this sort and was initially turned off by the lack of digital medial to break up the somewhat monotonous nature of being lectured at BUT when Ward started sharing his creations the comics spoke for themselves. Waid’s vision of the digital page is very original but simple. The page itself changes like a digital slide show, with panels appearing and disappearing the motion is eye catching and drawing the reader’s attention to new scenes. The unique way these drawings appear and disappear draws the reader’s eye to new content but still empowers the readers to see the larger scene, similar to a traditional comic but completely different and awesome.
I am so excited to check out more of Waid’s digital work, and I know you are too, and we are lucky that Ward, and his collaborators, have created Thrillbent comics! They look great,and I am excited to be critiquing samples in the next few weeks.
I could not reset the opportunity to change the dialog in a comic for a daily create challenge. I had thought about making the Jesse James character speak as if he were the professional wrestler Jesse James. but when I looked at the comic I knew there was only one way to change the set up. I am thinking of making a gritty reboot of a classic here. Keep an eye out for my Kickstarter!
*This post is part of a continuing series of responses to assigned readings for Learning with Digital Stories, a master level course I am enrolled in at UC Denver.
I have been enjoying reading the Lankshear and Knobel text but I am a proponent of a wide perspective on a topic that I am studying, and so I welcome the opportunity to look at the definition or musings of others around the concept of digital storytelling. I skimmed the introductory chapters for both Digital Storytelling and The New Digital Storytelling, both seemed interesting, but in my survey of digital comics I have been struggling with finding the difference between a printed comic that has been delivered digitally and a true digital comic. The New Digital Storytelling chapter Storytelling for the 21st Century provided more substance to help me in my clarification between digitized comics (traditional comics that are delivered digitally) and true digital comics, and so I decided to focus my responce on this chapter.
The most important concept that Alexander introduced, for me, was a question to ask in order to determine if a digitally delivered story is a genuine digital story. Alexander’s question was; “How does being digital enable new aspects of storytelling?” (14). For my critique of digital stories this week I reviewed a technology created to enhance the reading experience for traditional print comic that have been scanned into a digital environment. This technology changed the reading experience, in both positive and negative ways, but to determine if it created a digital story I must decide if the storytelling has been fundamentally altered by the digital environment. Looking at the technology and asking Alexander’s question I have determined that it did not transform those print comics into digital stories. The storytelling still followed the flow and structure that was created for the medium of printed paper and was still bound by the limitations of printed paper, an analog story rendered in a digital format.
One buzzword from the chapter that grabbed my attention was cybercultural matrix. It was introduced near the end of the chapter and Alexander indicated that the term would be defined in chaper 2. I hope that I have the opportunity to read chapter 2 for more information about the cybercultural matrix, but it does seem to be self explanatory. For me, this term seems to refer to the thousands or even millions of niche communities that are generated by the intersection of the multitude of technological options for communication and the vast number of cultural communities using those technologies to sharing ideas or stories. People are blogging about every culturally significant topic that exists today and each of those blogospheres are niches in the cybercultural matrix. As are the niche communities of Star Wars fanatics, who each share their love of the Star Wars universe employing different digital mediums, such as self publishing fan fiction, creating Han Solo memes, or producing stop-motion Stormtrooper videos for YouTube. The cybercultural matrix is an great concept to help wrap one’s mind around the vast number of digital stories being told. Furthermore, The Cybercultural Matrix would be an awesome name for a punk rock band.
I began my survey of digital comics by looking at comics created specifically for the digital world. Comics that could only exist in on the infinite canvas of the digital world. As a comic reader, however, these comics are outliers in the set of titles I read. I generally still read comics that are produced to be printed, most often, digitally thought a scanned digital edition. Though delivered digitally these comics are far from digital comics because they are still bound by the physical limitations of printed comics. I decided this week to look into the ways that those traditional comic producers are presenting their content in the digital environment to see what, if anything, these publishers were doing to explore this new literacy of digital comics.
I found a company called ComiXology, to be a big player in digital presence of the major comic publishers. This Amazon subsidiary acts as a comic book store for the digital editions from the collections of 75 comic publishing companies, including the collections of both the major comic publishers – DC and Marvel, and the smaller but highly influential Image, Dark Horse and Archie comics. Most importantly it seems that DC and Marvel are both closely aligned with ComiXology. Marvel employees ComiXology technologies in the digital comic reader on Marvel.com, and DC links its digital collection directly from its website to the ComiXology page. All of these comics are still just digital versions of traditional comics, or as I have begun to think of them – analog comics.
ComiXology has created a specialized reading technology, called Guided View, that attempts to create an “immersive and cinematic experience” for the reader (ComicXoogy website). This is an attempt to make uses the qualities of the digital environment to create an enhanced reading expericne without changing the physically published comic. I decided to critique a ComiXology title to determine how successful Guided View was a creating that enhanced experience.
I was fortunate enough to find a comic on ComiXology that I also owned as a physical comic book, Star Wars: Free Previews. This comic is a free teaser book that was used to launch Marvel comics’ new Star Wars series of titles. This continuing series explores the lives of the heroes and villains from the Star Wars universe in adventures not highlighted in the movies. Because I had access to both I first read the book online using the Guided View technology and then reread the physical comic to note the differences in my experiences and then used pacing, media application, and media grammar as my critique criteria.
The pacing in reading the two formats of the same title were vastly different. The digital Guided View version zooms in on panels or sections of panels giving the reader only a small view of the greater page, the time spent on each panel and the decision to move to the next was up to the viewer but there was little motivation to linger on the small window and lots of motivation to see what was happening next so I quickly moved though panels. My reading of the print comic was at a much more leisurely pace. I like to look at the new pages as a whole, then at each panel, then usually at the whole again. Also when reading the physical comic there were no restraints on moving backward to reread pages or character interactions, the Guided View comic, true to its clam, was more of a movie experience where the story only moves forward.
I thought that the Guide View reader was a fun way to read a comic, one that I could see myself using occasionally, maybe when checking out series or authors. The technology removes the ambiguity of panel order that may occur in some comics and does and awesome job of building tension and not spoiling surprises because the reader cannot sneak peaks of future panels. I am guilty of both getting confused by panel order and sneaking peaks of what is happening at the bottom of a page but for me that is part of the magic of comics. I watch movies when I want a story told to me and I read comics when I want to interact with the story. I would read new series with Guided View because I am not yet involved in the illustrations and written content together as a single piece of art, using Guided View to read these books makes sense because I am still learning if the book has a story that is compelling enough hold my interest and Guided View focuses attention on those story elements.
Overall I do feel that I would use Guided View again, but not often and definitely not to replace my current comic reading habits. I think that people new to comics would enjoy the movie like experience of Guided View and could use Guided View as a bridge to the comic book genera because of comfortable viewing experience. If the resolution on the zoomed in panels were to improve then Comixology may be able to gain even more converts from comic book traditionalists.
If you are interested in a peek into the lives of your favorite Star Wars characters or are want to check out Guided View for yourself you can find the Star Wars Free Preview here, you will need to sign in with an Amazon account.