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Things That Stretch The Definition Of Comics

And, in case you’re new here, that’s an entirely positive development.

  • You gotta hand it to Ryan Estrada, things just sort of happen to him. It’s an open question if he naturally intuits situations where things are more likely to happen, or if (as I’ve always maintained) he is some form of natural chaos generator function, causing weird situations to coalesce about him in places where they ordinarily would not occur.

    As far as the Estradian Weirdness scale goes, hiking in the woods in Korea and coming across an art installation/comic book you can wander inside is pretty low scoring, but neat nonetheless:

    In just 9 pages, it tells of the war, the refugees building the city, the locals thriving by embracing nature, and gentrification taking that away.

    But this story takes @scottmccloud‘s lessons about the real story happening in the space between panels to the extreme.

    Because here, the space between panels is an actual hike through the very nature that brings the characters joy, with glimpses through the trees of the very village it takes place in.

    I have never seen anything like it and I am so happy to have stumbled upon it.

    In case you don’t have your copy of Understanding Comics handy, it’s chapter 3 (Blood In The Gutter, p60 in my 1994 Harper reprinting of the Kitchen Sink edition) where McCloud talks about how much story happens in the gutters, and the various kinds of transitions that take you from one panel to the next¹. It’s a terrifyingly creative way to tell the story of a place, and I’m glad that the artist was found by Estrada’s wife, Kim Hyung Sook, and that she could be told of how much enjoyment her work brought to Estrada’s followers.

  • While I’m not sure if Estrada is a catalyst for weirdness or merely wanders into it at a greater than normal rate, I have no such illusions regarding Shing Yin Khor; they don’t wait to find or provoke weirdness, they seek it out and when necessary, create it. Consider the multiple road trips in search of muffler men, or the dragging of the Center For Otherworld Science into our reality via a multimedia AR mystery, or perhaps just deciding to give the 12 foot Home Depot skeleton they brought home a proper axe for Halloween. For Khor, that’s just a random Wednesday.

    So I am very excited that Khor has decided to team up with game designer Jeeyon Shim to create … let’s just quote the whole thing:

    [Sparkles] ANNOUNCEMENT! [Sparkles]²

    Shing Yin Khor (@sawdustbear) and I are co-designing The Field Guide To Memory, an interactive journaling game about legacy, wonder, and cryptids. Launching on KS this winter!

    Keep an eye on the hashtag #FieldGuideToMemory and follow our accounts for more!

    The weirdness creator cannot be stopped by pandemic or quarantine, they only become stronger. But is it, as I implied in the title, a thing that stretches the definition of comics, or something merely wildly creative and somewhat comics-adjacent? Given that the story panels will in some cases be 3D objects and the gutters human emotion and experience, I’m gonna call it comics. If it’s not, maybe we need to expand the definition.

Spam of the day:

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¹ Given Estrada’s description, I’d say it was mostly Type 4, scene-to-scene transitions. Which, given McCloud’s analysis, is more likely to occur in Asian comics than Western comics.

² That’s how it showed up in my copy of the tweet’s text. Okay, I added the brackets, but it really did say Sparkles to represent the emoji.

It was indeed an amazing forest-comic! I finally found the artist’s account! Everyone check out Jeonji’s work!

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