Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thurthday Thoughth on Thequential Art - Meanwhile

(If you have a lisp, that title works.)

Do you like time travel? Do you like Choose Your Own Adventure? Do you want to read a groundbreaking comic that actually broke ground eight years ago? Then you ought to read Meanwhile.

Meanwhile is a non-linear webcomic by Jason Shiga. Since a picture's worth a thousand words, check this out.

Start in the upper left corner of that page, where our main character, Jimmy, says "Thanks for letting me use your bathroom, mister." You can see the "pipes" that lead from one panel to the next, often in a very unconventional order. From that panel, you go right, right, right, left, left, left, then to the opposite corner of the page, then down, left, up, left, down, and left, before branching off depending on which of the professor's inventions you wish to play with. And now, hopefully, you're getting the general idea.

But wait! There's more! Many pages in the comic, including this one, have multiple threads sharing the same space. The two panels that you skip over when reading are part of the story that happens later on. Although, being a supernonlinear story, even "later on" isn't quite right; we're talking more like branches of a tree here. Though even THAT'S not quite right, since I don't know any tree where the branches loop back into themselves and each other. (That would be a kickass tree, though.) In fact, the story is shaped like this.

If you're not interested yet... well, maybe the formalism, time travel, non-linear CYOA-ness of it isn't your thing. But the story itself is rather charming, with main character Jimmy bumbling his way through technological disasters, trying to fix his mistakes and often making things worse.

Hmm. Feeling uncharacteristically laconic tonight. (Look, this is succinct for me.) Once again, I highly recommend reading Meanwhile! Good-bye!

Until Next Week,
I Remain,
Some Guy Who Likes Comics

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