Sutu

Why Interactive Comics Journalism Is Exploding and Your Paper Bin Is Not

In recent years, interactive comics and virtual reality have found their way to journalism. Comics journalism is a hybrid medium combining elements of sequential art, journalism, documentaries, and political cartoons.

 

On the importance and relevance of this burgeoning art form, we turn to Dan Archer, a Brooklyn-based Englishman who is ready to embrace the potential of virtual reality as a journalistic tool. Archer is the founder of Empathetic Media, a multimedia agency that uses graphic journalism—virtual and augmented reality—to tell news stories in an immersive new way.

 

Archer has drawn comics on topics ranging from the recent closing ceremony at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, to prison escapes at Alcatraz, to human trafficking in Nepal. He is an atypical journalist who documents his stories through the use of comics, 3D simulations, and is at the forefront of this ever-growing storytelling medium.

 

Dan Archer

Image Via Twitter

 

In an interview with Junkee Magazine, Archer revealed his greatest inspirations include Joe Sacco and Art Spiegelman, who, through their graphic novels Palestine and Maus, pushed the form into popularity and opened up the floodgates of making unwieldy subjects more digestible to the reader.

 

On the explosion of comic journalism, Archer says to Junkee that “given the proliferation of visual and graphic content online and how undeniably viral that sort of content is, it represents a massive opportunity for people. Now that the internet is evolving, we can make it work a lot harder to tell stories that are uniquely suited to this medium.”

 

This is where we stumbled upon Screendiver, an online digital comics directory whereby visitors have over forty-three interactive comics to choose from. The website also accepts pitches from new artists and journalists to publish their work and contains a batch of “how-to” videos on strengthening one’s knowledge of comics and virtual reality journalism.

 

Here are a few examples of the interactive comics on the website:

 

1. The Ocean is Broken, by Stu “Sutu” Campbell.

 

This interactive comic from Australian craftsman and storyteller Sutu is one of the most brilliantly detailed and well put together graphic tales I have ever had the pleasure of reading. The marriage of organic soundscapes and mind-bending visual experiences drag the reader into a five star journey through the trash-filled seas of the future and the peril faced by the humans who inhabit these regions. Sutu’s love of people, and his passion for the endangered environment are pressed into each facet of this project. 

 

Sutu

Image Via ocean.sutueatsflies.com

 

The story is an invitation to see what Sutu has seen, having lived within the indigenous communities of Greenland. It’s also based on the future he envisions for this community. Journeying through desolate and trash-ridden seascapes, it is the story of a young boy, Pitaaraq, and his family who, over the course of six color-contrasting chapters, fight for survival.

 

Sutu

Image Via ocean.sutueatsflies.com

 

2. The Art of Pho by Julian Henshaw.

 

Henshaw

Image Via artofpho.submarinechannel.com/

 

The Art of Pho is a delicious tale set against the backdrop of bustling Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and is about a little creature named Little Blue, who ventures to the Vietnamese capital to learn how to make the perfect bowl of noodle soup.

 

Henshaw

Image Via artofpho.submarinechannel.com/

 

This interactive graphic novel is about friendship, love, and finding your roots, and is told through the perspective of lovable little creatures. A sight for sore eyes some might say.

 

 

3. Utopolis

 

Poverty, luxury, freedom, and dictatorship are the themes composing this game made by Dutch students of art Michelle Malais, Johan Lipman, Veerle Zandstra, and Kristel Versteegh. Metaphorical of today’s society, Utopolis represents a city in which appearances are not always true, and every level of society is riddled with deception.

 

Utopolis

Image Via Screendiver

 

What’s cool about this storyline is that the reader is in control of it. Hannah and Claus are eager to leave their under-privileged side of town in search of a city that ensures a happy life. Influence their adventure with your own choices and make sure they are the right ones, because they cannot be reversed. That is the catch, in life and in Utopolis.

 

4. Here by Richard McGuire

 

The story is about the corner of a room and every event that has occurred in that space over the course of hundreds of thousands of years. First published in RAW magazine in 1989, McGuire’s pioneering comic vision Here has been redeveloped into this interactive short story over the course of fifteen years.

 

McGuire

Image Via Screendiver

 

The ebook scenes can be shuffled and reshuffled, giving the reader the opportunity to lead the narrative in a new direction through different combinations and connections. For example, the following images show different conversations that happened over time.

 

McGuire

Image Via Screendiver

 

This ebook’s concept is groundbreaking and applicable to a thought many of us have had—what has happened in this exact spot since the dawn of time?

 

As we venture closer to the day in which print becomes obsolete (gasp), it is a time to cherish the sentimental value of our physical books. But it’s also a time to get excited about the potentialities of what technology can do for the reading experience, and for the era of information and how we process it all.

 

Feature Image Via Screendiver