I emailed the folks at DeepComix about how to go about working in their app, and they never responded. So I started googling around for parallax effects to see what was out there, because it was pretty obvious to me that they were getting their cool effects just positioning the layers against each other and using the accelerometer on the iPhone (also pinch/zoom and swipe nav, but that's neither here nor there).
So I found a plugin using jQuery called jParallax and I decided to download it and see if I could get it working. I took a few pieces of art I had laying around, the first was a panel from a comic I'm working on that I modified heavily so that it would be a direct replacement for the images in the supplied project:
The second one I tried was from my webcomic that has been on forever hiatus called 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea vs Mecha-Cthulhu (which is pretty much just what it sounds like):
The last one I thought it might be fun to try and add in some simple animations to some of the layers and see what that might do, this is a Steampunk Willie image I did after a quick image search turned up almost no hits for that seemingly obvious mashup:
None of these images began life as something that was designed to be presented in this way, so they each have their own issues with how they behave. I'd like to try making one from scratch specifically for presenting like this next.
Another obvious issue is that you get 0 functionality from a touch screen, since the parallax effect is on mouse-over. So you're making these for a desktop user, unless somebody builds a native app that can make use of the accelerometer in tablets and phones like the DeepComix folks did.
I was thinking about using it on every panel to a larger or smaller degree, but what I'm working on right now is actually making a series of super long images divided into "virtual panels" by foreground elements. This one will only scroll left and right, so the idea is that as you move your mouse laterally, it would progressively reveal more and more of the image and dialogue, but still all be within the same fixed viewport size. Another idea I had for this was to reward exploration of a scene by revealing extra details that are otherwise hidden by the foreground, that kind of thing.
Are we opposed to motion comics though? I like drawing static compositions as much as the next person, but it honestly seems to me like if we want to get serious about exploring digital then that is one of the hugest advantages you could never do with print. And the cool thing about this particular effect is that a digital artist doesn't have to change anything about their workflow, since you should already be working with layers like this, you just aren't saving them out separately.
I don't think there's a large contingent out there screaming out against motion comics, but there is a healthy debate on how much control they take from the reader (when does it become animation and not a comic book?) Marvel attempted to do motion comics a few years ago and it was a failure, but technology changes/improves so maybe it's a format that would be a welcome evolution done right. The hardcore comic book fan didn't embrace the tech, but maybe the new reader will.
hrm… that's weird.
good weird. not bad weird.
it seems like it would take a good bit of planning ahead of time to set up each frame of a comic, all the layers.
maybe not if you're doing a comics 100% digital and say working in PS, then you could just create the layers as you go.
you would have to up the price on a comic using that, to cover the extra effort going into that work.
it's really at the threshold of motion comic, and that's when things get dicey. for me, I say let comics be comics, and animation be animation. even in a digital realm I think it's less about cool bells and whistles to grab readers attention and more about giving them a way to read ALL of their comics collection in one easy to carry place. one little micro sd card can fit so many digital comics… it's silly.
it's interesting, but i worry it would be pushing it and come off as gimmicky to readers.
I can feel you guys on the gimmick thing to a point, but if we stop and look at print comics for an analogue, what looks more gimmicky: a book that is stamped on foil every issue since it came out, or a regular paper book book that is on issue 300 and has a foil cover this one time? And then next month it has a hologram cover? And the month after that some of the pages are in red/blue 3D?
That is admittedly a thin example, but to me if you are trying to avoid a gimmick, it needs to exist as a recurring tool in your presentation or it feels like the variant covers of old. Also, I assure you that the digital workflow for this is almost no different for the artist assuming you have a web developer set it up (and this really needs to only happen once for the template). So in my opinion it needn't cost any more than a standard page.
I'm not really looking for the answer to How Digital Comics Should Be with this, that would be like saying all print books should be popup books or something. I just think it's fun to make these, so I'm trying to get it dialed in well enough so that I can build a concept around it.
"I'm not really looking for the answer to How Digital Comics Should Be with this, that would be like saying all print books should be popup books or something. I just think it's fun to make these, so I'm trying to get it dialed in well enough so that I can build a concept around it."
That's why I'm curious as well. If you take a panel or maybe even a couple together, it looks cool (and easy enough to brush off as a "gimmick.") But how do you make a story around it and it still feels like the reader/viewer is in control? It will definitely be interesting to see what comes of it.
April 7, 2012
I just had a closer look at the website for Deep Comix and I gotta say… I love it. Especially after watching this Teaser.
Why? Well, since beginning 'The Legend of Spacelord Mo Fo' I had in mind a concept that digital comics could be taken further than what I was currently thinking. Due to my art process being purely digital it was easy for me to complete each panel with every element layered. The thought was always there that this could be useful in future. Now, maybe it is.
Gimmick? I'm not so sure after seeing the teaser. Is there a comparison to 3D in the cinemas? 'Immersive' seems to be the tagline.
It's a shame they never contacted you back, Max and I like what you've done with your experiments. I've sent an email to the Deep Comix people and we'll see if there is a response 🙂
Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention.
Hey, this is pretty neat. Probably too distracting in an actual story (as everyone else has pretty much already said), but maybe in the header of a comic's website, or as the cover page, or something. Grab people's attention with some well-placed jQuery.
@David, they actually did finally return my email, I posted the body of that into the DeepComix thread I started back when I first came across it. The basic gist was that they have been getting an overwhelming response with the app, and right now they are working directly with established talent.
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