Paperback books and graphic novels have always been stationary, bound by the pages of a book or the panels of a comic book. Graphic novels are a literary medium of their own allowing integration of text in exposition and dialogue with visuals. However, with the turn of the digital age, the medium has found ways to expand through new media technologies such as interactive web design, sound and flash animation. The art of the graphic novel has allowed for artists and writers to be more interactive with their audiences, granting an integrative experience.
The interactive webcomic “The Boat” by Matt Huynh is an award-winning graphic novel that can be found on the Internet rather than on the pages of a book. However, what differs it from an eBook or any other independent web series is that it uses digital media to creative an interactive experience involving the senses, combining motion with still images, sound, animation and electronic text that scrolls through with the click of a mouse. The graphic novel tells the tragic story of Vietnamese refugees who face horrors on their journey across the waters on a boat not built for sea. The interactive website complements the subject matter by allowing the reader go on the journey with the characters to see in their point of view, hear the pounding rain and witness death and tragedy. “The Boat” by Matt Huynh is not bound by written word or panels as other mediums of literature.
Interactive graphic novels are not just inventive in the use of multimedia but in the ways that they can express the narrative. Rather than being linear in storytelling interactive webcomics can experiment in new forms of storytelling by telling the narratives through literal circular or parallel models to show different storylines that exist in novels. A comic book writer, Scott McCloud, states that interactive comics can exist on an infinite blank canvas that is limitless compared to being on a page.
Digital media that have come from the innovation of the digital and information age have allowed for new expressions for graphic novels, expanding the medium into new horizons.
England, E., & Finney, A. (2011). Interactive Media: What’s that? Who’s Involved?. Interactive Media UK. Retrieved from: http://www.atsf.co.uk/atsf/interactive_media.pdf
Huynh, M. (2015). The Boat. Retrieved from: http://www.sbs.com.au/theboat/
Lingel, J. (2012). “Keeping it Safe”: Information Poverty, Information Norms and Stigma. Journal of the Society for Information Science and Technology 64(5). Retrieved from http://www.danah.org/papers/2012/EBM-InfoPoverty.pdf
McCloud, S. (2005, February). The Visual Magic of Comics (TED Talks). Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/scott_mccloud_on_comics?language=en
Prensky, M. (2001). Do They Really Think Differently?. On the Horizon 9(5). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Prensky, M. (2001). Do They Really Think Differently?. On the Horizon 9(6). Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.pdf
Selwyn, N. (2004). Reconsidering Political and Popular Understanding of the Digital Divide. New Media and Society 6 (3). Retrieved from http://www.hkucourses.com/cybersocieties/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/2004-reconsidering-political-popular-understandings-of-the-digital-divide1.pdf