coMIX: Sound + Digital Games

Dylan Yamada-Rice

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How do graphic narratives change across different platforms for dissemination, when each foregrounds different modes of communication to varying degrees. Further, how does the narrative change in relation to the affordances of the media used in dissemination, such as book, app, games console etc.

As a staring point I shared different versions of Dr Seuss’ graphic narrative Green Eggs and Ham with RCA IED students. I asked them to think about which modes were foregrounded and how this changed the narrative, the viewer/reader’s relationship to the narrative, and the relationship between time and space.

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In the following video the author of Maus, Art Spiegelman describes his understanding of comics as ‘Co-MIX’, a collaborative mixture of images and words.

Following on from this I began thinking about what other modes/media could be co-mixed with graphic narratives and came up with the following examples that I shared with my students as a starting point for developing their own ideas.

  1. Graphic Narratives + Sound
  2. Graphic Narratives + Digital Games
  3. Projected Graphic Narratives + Performance

Graphic Narratives + Sound

An early thought in connection to sound was ‘Wordless!’-a slide show presentation on comic history shown with live Music at The Barbican in London:

“Odd hybrid of slide-talk, movies and musical performance created in collaboration with acclaimed jazz composer Phillip Johnston.”

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Image source

There are also historical examples of comics being released with sounds such as these that came with records:

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(1947)

You can find a sound archive of such material here.

Another example is one from my own childhood:

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There is a great blog about Oink Comic here

The musician Alice Cooper also released an album that was accompanied by the first of 3 part comic book that was published by Marvel and tied with story conveyed in his music:

alice-cooper-the-last-temptation

Sound also plays a big part in gaming narratives that have derived from comics. In my work as a Research Manager for the digital content company Dubit I have become interested in how game designers know where players are up to in the gaming narrative from sound alone. I challenged one RCA IED student to see if they could play a videogame by navigating with sound alone.

Graphic Narratives + Digital Games

Here is an example of how the graphic narrative of Zelda has changed from comic to different gaming platforms.

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The layout of the Game & Watch version of Zelda still has areas that could be viewed as   similar to panels used in comic version of the story:

(1991)

(2016)

Eisner calls a comic ‘sequential art’. McCloud (1993) describes the difference between this and films in the following way:

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It can be seen how the examples of graphic narratives within digital Zelda games has altered from being closer to comic formats to more like film.

Sometimes the boundary between comic and game is very blurred, for example how would you classify the following?

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Try it for yourself here

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