Earlier this summer, I started playing around with the idea of ‘responsive comics.’ My output was going to be a homepage redesign on here, but my goal was to experiment with how comics can adapt to the medium of the web in the context of responsive design. How can comic panels rearrange themselves depending on screen size?
Here’s an old sketch I sliced up to test. One of my goals is to play around with how to rearrange compositions based on screen size.
The horizontal panel is the original composition. To convert this to a vertical layout for phones, I want to maintain:
- The needle pointing towards the person
- The distance between the needle and the person
- The text separating these two elements
So to rotate this vertically, the hand, the text, and the person all need to be separate elements. Like a typical responsive design, they stack on a narrow screen. The one change is that the hand holding the needle rotates so that it points downward towards the person.
This is a crude example that doesn’t really make sense in terms of artwork composition (why would a hand be floating above a head) but introduces the new question of: what is the vertical equivalent of pointing a needle at someone’s neck?
I don’t know, which is probably why I would not draw a comic panel to look like this, because I wouldn’t be able to rearrange it. I would compose it differently keeping this in mind.
Which is the thing I want to explore here: how to compose panels that work both horizontally and vertically.
I did a cursory search for stuff about
responsive comics. Pablo Defendini wrote in detail about this exact topic in Standards, Semantics, & Sequential Art: Toward a Digital Comics Praxis.
Full list of readings:
- Standards, Semantics, & Sequential Art: Toward a Digital Comics Praxis by Pablo Defendini
- Understanding Comics, and Making Comics by Scott McCloud
- The "Infinite Canvas"by Scott McCloud
- A Comic Introduction to Idyll by Matthew Conlen
- CSS Grid Layout and Comics (as Explained by Barry the Cat) by Ian Yates
- Communicating with Interactive Articles Fred Hohman, Matthew Conlen, Jeffrey Heer, and Duen Horng (Polo) Chau
- Thread by Maggie Appleton: ‘Wish there were way more visual-spatial essays around the web. I think we get hung up on calling them “comics.”’
- Chatting with Glue by Max Krieger
- Thread by Matthew Conlen on authoring tools for interactive documents
Project status: I’ve paused working on this for a couple of months, but I’ve been meaning to pick it up again. I’d love to chat about this with you if these topics are also something you’re also interested in! I’m reachable on Twitter or email.
Some of this text is from a previous blog post I wrote back in August.