I hate fake, digital “pages.” I really do. I’m actually kind of insulted by them. It’s not because they usually look shitty – although anyone that photoshops in a page curl really ought to pause and think about why they make such poor life choices. Where did it begin? How can it stop? No, that’s not it.
For the most part, I think digital “pages” are uninspired design hooks that do little more than perpetuate an idea that isn’t relevant. In fact, you could argue that they actually hamper the development of new and useful ways of conveying information in favor of a gimmick.
When I sat down to write RELAUNCH I had this idea that it was possible to write a comic that didn’t have any pages per se but was still fundamentally a reading experience that made use comic book storytelling techniques. I kept thinking about it like a dashboard. Here’s what I mean: When you’re driving a car you’re simultaneously aware of a lot of things; the speedometer, the gas gauge, the radio, the GPS, the “check engine” light and so on. You’re paying attention to cars in the rear view mirror. Maybe you’re adjusting the air conditioning. Maybe you’re looking at the passenger. You get the idea. At the same time that you’re doing all of that you’re also driving down the road, progressing from Point A to Point B.
I wanted to write a comic like that. Where the reader is aware of the entire scene but where each panel is potentially changing (or not), potentially present (or not), depending on the ever changing conditions of the story. Yet even though the reader is aware of these changes they’re still progressing linearly through the sequence of events at their own pace.
Dan and I have come to referring how we’re telling the story of RELAUNCH as “Dashboard Style.” Even though we’re still exploring its limits we’re pretty excited about the results so far. In the end it might be a semantic distinction but then again language is a complex, nuanced thing. Sometimes just using a different word or phrase to describe something can lead to new, interesting results.