This was an interesting year for SXSW, and while much of the buzz was coalescing around the rise of startups and the possibility of new ways to fund projects, some of the most captivating moments for me focused on what Daniel Burwen of Cognito Comics called “an artisanal handcrafted quality.” It’s the quality in a work that forms an instinctive bond between you and the person who created it.
Burwen was using the term to refer to comic books, and explain why many attempts to bring long form comics to the digital world have fallen short. His iPad comic, CIA: Operation Ajax, impressed transmedia-savvy attendees not for its clever integration of real historical documents, but for its craftsmanship and attention to detail. The comic is about the CIA’s involvement in the overthrow of the Iranian government in the 1950s, and offers many opportunities to delve into primary source documents.
Burwen describes his project as a way to preserve the visual vocabulary of the graphic novel in moving to the new platforms of tablet and mobile – where a whole page can’t be shown at once, much less a majestic two page spread, or the even more challenging and imaginative reading possibilities provided by the printed page. Burwen and his team developed an iPad comic that follows the paths our eyes would follow on a regular comic page, with subtle musical cues, additional movement that changes focus in the frame, and animated flourishes.
But the technical side of the comic wasn’t really Burwen’s point. He managed to sketch out a philosophy and a detailed approach to the creative side of new media. It was the first time I’ve seen creative decisions – rather that strategic ones – discussed in such detail at a SXSW Interactive panel.Uncategorized