Comic Books in the Digital Age: The Great Screen Migration?
(at time of presentation)
Cormac McGarry is a PhD candidate at the Huston School of Film & Digital Media, NUI Galway. His research focuses on Comic Books, Graphic Novels & Sequential Art in the Digital Age, looking particularly at reception and the effects of remediation on the reading/watching dialectic embedded in the comic book multi-panel.
The comic book, once a niche cultural lens, has grown in prominence to take up a central position in our modern media consumption. Comic books are now at the heart of the transmedia strategies of large horizontally integrated conglomerates such as Warner Bros. and Disney. The saturation of portable screens and the demand from conglomerates for spreadable content has created both a top-down and bottom-up pressure which is squeezing the comic book off the printed page and onto our phones, tablets, and e-readers. This paper will explore the migration of the comic book from printed page to portable screen, examining what repercussions such a migration might hold for the comic book’s medium specificity as it bends and expands to meet its new environment. In particular, this paper will explore these repercussions in relation to ‘guided-view’ comics and how they shift the balance of a dialectic between reading and watching that is a principal feature of the traditional comic book multi-panel. We will interrogate how ‘guided view’ comics consist in a remediated grammar which makes presumptions about the comic book’s largest minimum segment, thereby directly affecting the consumer’s experience by altering the balance of the traditional reading/watching dialectic.