Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Animation Watch: Space-Time Condominium

An interesting aspect of webcomics is their ability to incorporate animation, audio, and other media into their strips. More often than not, of course, webcomics stick to the tried-and-true panels-on-a-page layouts of their print brethren--after all, correctly timing the animation with the reading experience can be tricky, and multimedia comics can easily become gimmicky or distract from the actual comic. That said, I do enjoy creative uses of a comic's web presentation, such as Sluggy Freelance's traditional "X Years of Nifty Darn Comics" annual animations, or this startlingly hilarious installment of Dr. McNinja, or when Starslip shattered its own site.

And tonight I want to bring to your attention another creative use of animation and sound in webcomics--courtesy of Space-Time Condominium, the bizarre webcomic about a man living in a luxury condo with four versions of himself from alternate universes. In the most recent story arc, the five Griffins are joined by a Griffin who is a cow, hailing from an alternate earth populated by talking animals.

Now, turn your attention to the most recent comic. Follow the onscreen instructions.

In my estimation, that's multimedia used to good effect. Coupled with the music, the animation adds an element of comedic timing that enhances the strip's humor. Plus, it evokes the ever-popular eighties music montage--which is especially appropriate in light of STC's ostensible conceit of being a cancelled eighties sitcom.

If you enjoyed it, don't forget that Space-Time Condominium updates Wednesdays. By the time you're reading this, there may very well be a new comic waiting for you! And if you've never read STC before, this is as good a time as any to start. It's one of the more unique comics I've read, and this is coming from a guy who reads comics about Irish ninja doctors and shovel beams.


Ross said...

You do raise an interesting question, why do the vast majority of web-comics follow the same format as the printed comic? Are we as readers unable to handle it? Are the current crop of creators unable to be original? I think perhaps in the future we may see a new breed, it will probably take a 2nd generation of creators to think outside the box(es). At the moment all creator and readers are used to the comfy blanket that it print, we grew up with it and that's what we are used to. Perhaps in say 5 or so years we may get a new crop of creatives who have no history with print and can truly give us something new. The big question is will we like it? Are our days as fans numbered? I can imagine us on our little forums of the last few print style comics bemoaning the loss of 'proper' art. Perhaps we are already there or at least it sounds like I am.

Ross said...

Also I see this weeks "Geeks Next Door" has a little go with a hyperlink speech bubble. Maybe they read your article...

Jackson said...

I honestly think that most webcomics follow the established print-comic forms because, basically, they work. I remember
this article from Webcomics.com about an online talk delivered by Scott McCloud. The central thrust of the article is that, more often than not, the basic comic tool of sequentially arranged images is sufficient to tell a good story. You shouldn't just be incorporating animation or music for its own sake, and while it can make a good joke, it's much harder to use it for furthering a story.

Another reason is practical: an important part of a successful webcomic's business model is the sale of print collections, which can't incorporate the multimedia and do not easily accommodate infinite-canvas comics.

Dave Dwonch said...

Hey Jackson! Thanks for the positive review!

As far as twisting the format, I'm of two camps. I come from a traditional comics background, and for the most part I stick to the traditional format (albeit turned landscape). For me, formatting STC in this manner will make reprinting the material much easier.

As far as pushing the envelope, I'm all for it. The musical montage kind of hit me over the head midstream, and I readjusted the storyline to accomodate the "gimmick." I'd love to do more of the same, but I don't want to go to the well too often-- I'm only going to use music and animation when it helps the story. That said, the corkboard will get dusted off in a couple of months for a house party gone horribly wrong.

What I do love about webcomics is the intimacy involved in creating them. Because STC is a story within a story (within another story) the webcomic format allows for me to really flesh out the world in ways that print comics would never allow.

Next weeks 'episode' will be a good example of how real world elements will cross polinate with the fictional TV show. It's definitely one of those things that will only work on the web. I'm striving to push the envelope where I can, but never at the expense of the storyline, humor and art.

Dave Dwonch said...

Also, I'm at work multitasking while listening to the Comic Book Queers, so please forgive the typos!