Several years ago, I developed a format for creating comics designed to be viewed on a mobile device. As I began to tell a friend about my findings with mobilecomicinterrupted me and said
- What a good idea, responsive.
-No, these are comics intended for mobile viewing only.
His face said it all. Somehow, he was working in an incomplete format. Was it possible to create a comic book publishing format that would adapt to mobiles and computers?
The webcomics are born in a first moment, to be seen from a computer screen, that is to say in horizontal format. The irruption of the cell phone and its vertical reading, makes the adaptation of comics from one format to another very complex.
A responsive comic should be read with similar narrative sensations in horizontal and vertical. If the vignettes have different weights, it will be impossible for the author to play with the rhythm and look for resources that narrate in the same way in both formats. A vignette that occupies the entire screen on the computer may look small on the mobile and lose the desired impact.
That talk with my friend was the spark that made me start to look into the problem of finding a responsive format to create comics. Four and a half years later and after countless hours of headaches and learning basic notions of HTML and CSS, what I present here is a solution. There are more solutions. Others will come. It is a solution in which you hold on to some things and give things up. A responsive comic is a different format. The experience will never be like the one you have when reading a printed comic, but it is a format that has other qualities.
This was always the key to the format for me. The reason that justified the hours dedicated to this search.
The existence of a comic format that can be posted on a website and automatically be viewed in any language and from anywhere, makes it the most accessible and universal format for viewing comics. Surely not the best, but certainly the most universal.
The other challenge is to achieve a quality publication, without formatting errors that detract from the reading of the comic. To build a structure that allows a satisfactory reading experience.
If we want the reader to have a similar reading experience from a mobile or from a monitor, we must achieve similar visual impacts in both formats. A vignette that fills the entire mobile screen should also be able to fill the entire screen of a computer or tablet, so that the impact on the reader is the same.
Is it possible?
To the question of whether it is possible, my answer is yes. Yes, but with limitations. We will not have everything. We will lose along the way some of the freedoms that a blank page of paper gives. That is the first thing we have to accept and accept in order to continue.
First of all, we have to choose one of the two options as the dominant one, here comes the famous phrase Mobile first! Why? Because it is a format with more limitations. Everything looks smaller.
The first step is to decompose the weights of the vignettes on the mobile. That is, find the different types of vignettes that can be read well from a mobile and rank them according to the screen space they occupy. From a full screen to a vignette with a minimum height and divided in two vertically.
These bullets mark the formatting options we have.
Adaptation to horizontal.
The great disclaimers.
In the previous step, the only vignette options available to us have been defined. The responsive format forces us to renounce possible vignettes that work very strongly horizontally because they cannot be adapted respecting the hierarchies of occupied screen space.
To fill the spaces in the horizontal version, the bullets should be grouped in groups of the same height.
This is a finding of my experience in mobilecomic, which I incorporate to the responsive version. Having html texts makes the comics translatable by browsers. This is the second quality that reinforces the universalizing character of the format.
It is true that there is a problem with translations. We must struggle to find ways to create correct translations and implement them, because at the moment, automatic translations present serious problems. From WordPress there are plugins that open these possibilities.
A responsive comic starts from very large and strict limits, but it is an option to create a visual narrative. Not all creative styles will be able to adapt to this type of comic, but there will be artistic choices that will.
The great challenge is to work on comics designed for this format and to achieve publications with a quality that has value for readers.
Is this possible?