I’m a big fan of alternative comics. They’re a great idea. I’m not talking about webcomics as an alternative to syndicated comics. I’m talking about webcomics that are an alternative to that alternative. That’s twice as alternative as syndicated comics.
You see, most webcomics fail to realise that on the internet, there are no pages. There are web pages, but they’re not like paper pages. Web pages are rectangular areas of any size where you can see stuff like images and words, whereas regular pages are different because… they don’t use electricity. So, if there are no pages, we need not adhere to the tyrannical form of panel comics. Panels were invented to oppress the minds of readers. They were invented so that space could be used efficiently. But on the internet, there is no space (apart from web space) and there are no pages (apart from web pages).
This fact was brilliantly exploited by Scott McCloud when he invented infinite canvas comics. They’re just like normal comics but with one important difference: they’re infinite. They go on forever. That is, until they stop. But they go on for a super long time. They could go on forever, though, if that were possible.
I read McCloud’s comic I Can’t Stop Thinking. I can’t stop thinking about how much I agree with it! I found it logical, well-thought-out and unpretentious. That symbol of an infinity sign with an eye in it was especially unpretentious. It looks like he had lots of fun making the whole strip using either Paint or an etch-a-sketch. I can’t believe that the beautiful landscape he’s drawn halfway down this page is only 4k!
And it’s true that online comics’ greatest promise is the chance break out of the rectangular prison that is paper, not the opportunity to cater to any interest without having to pander to a majority demographic or censor content. Escaping paper is the most important thing.
This is where Scott’s brilliant invention of ‘trails’ comes in. Instead of ordering panels left-to-right, top-to-bottom as they would appear on a dirty, evil page you can just place them anywhere you like and draw arrows linking them together. It may be confusing, it may take up space unnecessarily and the process of following the ‘trials’ may detract attention from the actual contents of the panels you’re trying to find… but at least it’s original!
Just because the convention of ordering things a certain way to aid comprehension has been around and stayed around since written communication was invented, it doesn’t mean we need that convention. In fact, I’m going to go one step further and break free from the convention of spaces between words. Yousee?Everythingissofreenow,nottomentionattractiveandeasytounderstand.
But, wait! I’m, still ordering the words left-to-right in the restrictive, rubbish way of the page. Convention pointless that of tyranny the escape to need I. Horizons my expand should I!
This gives me an idea. I’ll escape the restrictions of ordering the letters of a word from left to right as well. After all, this is the internet! ?yawyna ,ecnerehoc fo tnaryt eht ot rednap ot deen ew od yhW
But I’m still rigidly adhering to the convention of consonants in words. This is the internet! Surely, in this new medium we can express things perfectly adequately through a new, made-up convention that doesn’t alienate anyone at all. From now on, I will only communicate with vowels. The greatest promise of internet blogs is the chance to break out of the prison of consonant-usage. Allow me to demonstrate: Aoiueoiaueioaioueoiuaeoiaoiueaioieaoeuoaieuaeoaueaoieuaoieiaeioaeuiaeoiaeeeiaei!
Thank-you, Scott McCloud, for expanding my mind and showing me how to escape useless, unnecessary conventions such as pages and page-ordering. And thank-you to alternative comics for showing me that comics don’t need to be funny, relevant, unpretentious, likeable, readable, free, well-scripted, well-drawn or even drawn at all. What’s important is that they’ve been re-invented. Oh yes.