Responsive design works for websites, why not for digital comic books?

Pablo Defendini on employing adaptive web design in comic books.

In a keynote speech at the Books in Browsers conference, Pablo Defendini (@pablod), the interactive producer at Open Road Media, discussed responsive comics and the opportunities digital tools afford comic book design. In print, Defendini says, the page is the canvas for comics, but instead of being optimized for online consumption, digital editions are often merely static adaptations of print comics. How much richer could the reading experience be if they were designed with more responsive techniques?

Defendini says it’s important for writers and artists to consider the various digital formats and take full advantage of the possibilities. Highlights from his keynote (below) include:

  • Screen resolution is an issue for comics, and current mechanisms used to compensate can be detrimental to the story. [Discussed at the 2:05 mark.]
  • Web designers experience similar presentation issues on different devices of varying screen sizes and employ responsive design techniques as a solution. What if we did that with comics? [Discussed at 3:54.]
  • Defendini shows examples of a comic designed with HTML and CSS — “just a website by another name” — displayed on smartphone and tablet screens, and in iBooks as a fixed layout book. [Starting at about 5:00.]
  • Starting at about 10:34, Defendini addresses questions about designing the speech balloons in CSS, motion comics, and solutions for multi-language comics.

View the keynote in full below.

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