Just want to hand out some praise for Scott McCloud’s site which I’ve been frequenting like a red-hooded child in a Nicholas Roeg movie – not all the time, but enough to matter. It’s a pretty usable site, and McCloud is an innovative figure in comics, which might lend it relevance to the non-converted. He puts a lot of content on-line nowadays – click on ‘On-Line Comics’to view them – and a lot of his formats are pretty unusual. Try ‘My Obsession With Chess’ , for example. He enthusiastically champions new formats like this, and I’ve just read today the second part of ‘The Right Number’, which has a really satisfying interface that is aesthetically interesting (zooming into each panel to the next one), that he makes the most of. McClouds work is often a little cold, detached, which may not be to everyone’s taste, but I quite like that outsider-narrator thing, and it’s impossible to deny his talent and application of imagination.
He is also doing something else fairly new; selling content via the web for 25c a pop. It’s done via Bitpass, a system where you essentially buy vouchers for your account (as little as $3), which you can then spend in a variety of places. So far I’ve spent 50cents on The Right Number 1 & 2, and 75 on a audio-short story by Tom Gerency; currently downloading a Mark Twain audio-story for a buck. I’m quite happy to pay these prices for on-line content, although admittedly it is a novelty now, so I may scale down to only the stuff I really want. But especially in the Right Number case, McCloud as a jobbing artist needs recompense for the considerable work put into this quality item, and its media requires it be online, or at least computer based. So it’s good there are these systems in place to deal with small payments (I’m not about to put my credit card details in every time I want to glance at part of a comic story).
Enough plugging, except to balance my touting of McCloud by lauding Dylan Horrocks. I haven’t been able to get my hands on Hicksville, his highly rated graphic novel, but dearly want to. What I have read is his intelligent analysis of what comics are: a topic that interests many in the field butis generally only equated with McCloud himself (for the unacquainted McCloud published Understanding Comics, and further to that Reinventing Comics, the first particularly seen as the definitive work on what the art and medium of comics is actually all about). Horrocks breaks down the rhetoric of UC and suggests other ways of conceptualising the whole shebang, which are actually a little closer to my heart.