Imagine a comic book reading experience that could be called ‘enhanced.’ Animation, sound FX, voice acting, narration. What is a motion comic anyway? Is that even a good question? Or one with little, if any, relevance? Well, at minimum, a motion comic is in part a by-product of comics and comic book-reading, so it deserves to be discussed here. But if there’s just a little bit more to this picture, then it may well be called a new art form.
Now, when I say ‘new,’ perhaps what I really mean is ‘little known’ or ‘new-ish.’ For, Broken Saints (the ‘original motion comic epic’) by Brooke Burgess, Ian Kirby, and Andrew West is a bona fide motion comic which dates back a good twelve years. Complete with the storytelling techniques mentioned above, making it uniquely interactive, this creative presentation was winner of several awards, including ones for new media, flash, and innovation. The story should please anyone who’s into revealing corporate corruption, and enjoys noir, too. Talk of a video game, and live action mini-series has persisted for some time.
If that isn’t nostalgic enough for you, know that the motion comic can be traced back to–who else?–science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. If you’re not a fan already, PKD can easily be identified as the man who provided Hollywood with some of its freshest ideas, whether Hollywood was really up to the challenge of using them or not. His clip file (and I’ll use film titles) goes a little something like: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. Absent from that list, however, is a 1960’s novel called Zap Gun, which is not considered a classic by any stretch, but which detailed what a motion comic could be before one had ever been made in real life, and it first coined the term itself. In the story, a comic book artist (whose ‘motion comic’ is titled The Blue Cephalopod Man From Titan) may be the only thing standing between Earth and an alien invasion force. If that isn’t an interactive experience for a reader, I’m not sure what is!
Now, one last thing to get you interested in motion comics before I go. [looks to make sure it’s safe] Some publishers may not like this, but pursuing a motion comic on occasion could save you some dough, if you look into the fan-made presentations. (And that isn’t to say these fans don’t deserve a PayPal button next to their names.)
Some months ago, I became interested in Marvel’s World War Hulk storyline, but was putting a lot in my gas tank at the time, and short of money to buy comics. This is when I hit up YouTube and discovered a fan-made video comic devoted to World War Hulk, by YouTube user R.A. Mitchell, who proved to have a lot more moxie than the standard fanfiction writer. Pursuing the videos helped me learn what I had missed over five-plus issues in a creative, fun, and living sort of way. And believe me, there are many more creators of these motion and audio dramas out there. Some videos are homages to popular comic book storylines, like Mitchell’s interpretation of World War Hulk, and others are completely new pieces of work, including creator-owned characters and inventive plots, like we find in Broken Saints.
So what do you think? Take a walk on the wild side and see for yourself. I’m no authority, and I don’t see myself leaving comic books or webcomics behind, but I could see motion comics becoming a thing. You know, like the real thing. As if they weren’t already.