While I am just starting to discover “Why I don’t need a Girl-Friend ? ” which will be probably my next blog, but before that, I want to quench my lust for really big questions that could change the world.The following question is one among the questions that have been troubling me for the past three weeks.
In the pursuit for Utopian world as promised by the Web 2.0 ….Are we on the Right Track ? Are we missing something really crucial for the next big thing in Web 2.0 ?
I have done an empirical study of the failure of WebComics to really launch itself on the Web.I strongly believe WebComics have not even started on a journey to reach it’s potential zenith.The reasons …..I think there are many.But first let’s see the thought process I have gone through so far.
How did it start ? Ever since I was awestruck by the career changing knowledge sharing session by “long haired” Krish Ashok who happens to be my current boss, I have been thinking,thinking and thinking over many sleepless nights to be part of Web 2.0 which is changing the world and is promising of the elusive “Utopian society”.And me being a person who dreams of a perfect world for humanity and the universe , how can I be away from this revolution.So there started my six month struggle to get release from the project and join forces with the Web 2.0 troops that are marching towards building a “just society” under the hood of boosting profits to hungry DOT COM capitalists.
Independence from the Left’st brain I really do not know if I love my Creative and Artistic Right Hemisphere of my brain , because I never wanted to become an artist.My Left brain always dominated the “very Active” Right brain throughout my life.Now was the time for independence.
Coming to the Real point I am trying to make If you have survived the boredom reading till this point you are definitely eligible to read the rest of the blog.
After digging through the internet for a week my ‘Right’ brain has painted a picture about origin , evolution and future of Comics in the human history.Below is a part of the image in my “Right” brain.I am sure people don’t read but JUST SCAN my lengthy blogs , but do READ THE PICTURE in detail even though they are meant to be just seen.Here is the history of comics in brief
What is so special about the Comics Format
Very Obviously , it is an amazing combination of picture and text , both complimenting each other very well.Picture can only suggest whereas Text has the disadvantage of explaining even the surroundings.In Comics format Picture takes care of the environment and the character descriptions and text can concentrate only of conversations.It becomes easy for the story-teller to balance the load equally on Text and Picture.
A good analogy would be of a Catmaran boat , which easily shares the enormous loads on both the hulls unlike the normal conventional ships which have only one Hull.In case of Comics , huge amount of information can be transferred within few pages with the load of description being equally balanced on TEXT and VISUALS.
MORE PERSISTENT THAN THE FILM and ANIMATION
According to this HumbleComics.com “Film and Animation,
Film and Animation , in contrast to comics , are visual but “time-bound.”Language and Action in film and animation are “fleeting”.The medium rather than the audience,dictates how quickly the viewing progresses.The same is true of a traditional face-to-face lecture;the speaker has primary control over the speed of the lecture.The text medium, on the other hand,shares comics’ “Permanent” component but not it’s “Visual permanence”,then is unique to comics.
Due to Comic’s unique persistent nature , it can be used as a tool for motivating the dull students.Studies have shown that introducing comic books have tremendously increased the understanding of the subject among the students.
HumbleComics.com goes on to support comics as a good tool for motivating the students and actually connecting with a child’s world.
American children are steeped in popular culture. While some educators simply ignore this reality, many others struggle to address it adequately. Timothy Morrison, Gregory Bryan, and George Chilcoat (2002) suggest that, by incorporating popular culture into the curriculum, teachers can bridge the separation many students feel between their lives in and out of school. Hutchinson (1949) agrees, stating that “there should be harmony between the child’s on-going life activities and his experiences in the school – new learning always is a continuation or expansion of learning already possessed by the learner” (p. 236). In addition, the inclusion of popular media promotes media literacy. It encourages students to “become critical consumers of media messages, having developed the ability through exposure to accurately appraise media content or quality and accuracy” (Morrison, Bryan, & Chilcoat, 2002, p. 758).
Teachers have found that comics motivate students in active participation than discussions about classic novels.Even classic novels can be made to read by the small kids by partially including the Visual Elements into books like Illustrated classics of Moby books.I remember myself addicted to books at the age of ten when I started reading Black Beauty.Since then I devoured many of the Moby’s Illustrated classics.
My All time favourite Time Machine by H.G.Wells(Left) , An example of One sided illustrations (Right)
Even at the age of 15 , after devouring so many illustrated classics , when I started reading “Invisible Man” by H.G.Wells ( Without any pictures) , I never reached the last page of the book. My mind liked pictures and pictures helped me read the text.
Learning made too Easy
For some reasons human history has been very cruel to this form of communication and has never given a place in the Literature.Comics are still viewed as a sleazy books filled with violence and deep cleavaged blondes.Hardly educationist realise that comics can make learning TOO EASY.
One example from my nostalgic childhood days include the Tinkle Comics.Unlike the Nagraj and Super Commando Dhruva comics which were cheap remakes of the American Super-Hero comics, Tinkle had it’s soul within Indian culture and folklore.It had amazing characters in funny short stories that had both moral and fun.The characters include Suppandi,Shikari Shambu,Kalia the Crow,Tantri the Mantri,Kapish and many others.Apart from funny stories it also had science demonstrations and documentaries in the form of continued images.Some of them include:
I even remember keeping a scrapbook in which I used to cut and paste these science documentaries.This picture shows the remains of the scrapbook.
Problems Challenges in Keeping this amazing form of communication alive
With the advent of computer games Comics have definitely faced a near extinction until WebComics came as a ray of Hope.Some of the WebComic sites in the Web 2.0 era are :
But WebComics also have a set of problems.
All the Webcomic sites whichever is available now are using the same JPEG, GIF or any other valid image formats.Some sites like comiqs.com use Flash formats,due to which I am not able to view the site from my office network.
What is required is a generic format to represent Comic Strips , so that it is easier for the various sites and browsers to consider Comics Strips as DATA rather than BULKY IMAGES.
The recent development on WebComics is going in developing a COMIC BOOK MARK-UP LANGUAGE ( An XML based Comic Strip) . Also read this amazing article on CBML.If you are on INDIA domain also visit this link.
CBML will be the key for a new era in the Comic Art , and gain it’s rightful place in Literature.
Above blog was my interpretation about the History of Comics till now and the next phase of Comics in the History of Mankind.If you feel it to be eccentric enough or agree with my point please drop your valuable comments.Remember each comment counts in the process of changing the world for better.