*I HAVE BEEN READING AND CRITIQUING DIGITAL COMICS, FOR MY MASTER LEVEL STUDIES, IN A CONTINUING SERIES TO DEVELOP MY EXPOSURE TO AND UNDERSTANDING OF THIS
I feel so fortunate that I choose the focusing topic that I did for my digital story telling master level course. If you have not been following this blog, that theme is comics and graphic novels and I have been critiquing digital comics to see how the art form is evolving from pen and ink into the digital environment. I have focused my critiques on reviewing the digital comic’s story, flow, organization, and pacing (FOP), and media application. I have chosen these because it is the intersection of these factors that demonstrate if a comic, or story told with sequential static images, has been fundamentally transformed by the digital environment it is rendered in and with the digital tools used to enhance the story.
I am fortunate because I have discovered so many amazing and beautiful digital comics over the last ten weeks! And this week I found a comic that is my favorite so far. It is an adaptation of a short story written by Nam Le, adapted by Matt Huynh called The Boat. It is an autobiographical description of a teenage girl’s escape to Australia from Saigon after the Vietnam War.
This story is heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time. The characters experience threats and dangers at ever turn of their voyage and it keeps the tension of the narrative high, but they are able to take moments to make human connections and hope for a better life and that is what keeps the plot moving. Huynh’s beautiful art adds to the tension or tenderness of each scene and gives the written work even more impact.
Huynh used an infinite canvas to render his digital comic which let the reader to continually scroll down to read the story. this created a nice for the comic and let the reader be in charge of when the scroll when faster or slower. For me I like this freedom because I like to pick up the pace of my reading when the tension is high. The comic also had hyperlinks to side stories and information that pertained to particular part of the overall comic. I found that following the links was distracting to the flow of the story but after the first one I skipped over them and then went back to look at them later, and was happy to do so because these sides bars were full of interesting facts and background for the digital comic.
The combination of writing, statics images, digital tools was amazing in The Boat. As I have said the story is great and the art is beautiful. The digital tools are applied to give the reader a sense of the audio and physical setting of the story. The story is accompanied by an audio track that gives background noises from the deck of the boat or the passengers interacting. To give a physical sense of the boat Huynh manipulates the static images to move back and forth to give the reader a sense of being on a rocking boat.
The collaboration to make The Boat was incredible and made it truly moving piece, that I highly suggest you you read it for yourself.