Digital comics – new tools and tropes

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The medium of comics is undergoing a transition, as digital display becomes an increasingly popular mode of consumption. Portable display devices such as smart phones and tablet computers have provided a single platform of consumption on which comics, film, animation, games and other interactive visual media are equally at home. As comics gradually leave behind the trappings of print and embrace those of the screen, so too do they invite new crossovers and appropriations of tropes from other screen-based media. This article considers the relationship between space and time in comics and how this relationship has changed during the medium’s transition from print to screen. Using the theories of S. McCloud, T. Groensteen and N. Cohn as its starting point, it examines the passage of time’s representation within the spatially based medium of traditional comics. It then looks at how this representation of time has been distorted by the range of new tropes and devices that comics have appropriated from other screen-based media. Key topics covered in the article include: Replacements for the page turn and their impact on the pacing of comic sequences; The infinite canvas and its implications for panel spacing and layout; Multicursal structures and a reconsideration of comic as temporal map; The impact of animation, both within the panel and in the movement of panels; The limits of animation in comics and the foregrounding of reader control as a key element of the medium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-199
JournalStudies In Comics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • comics
  • hypercomics
  • digital comics


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