C[h]ris Reyns-Chikuma

Are Digital Comics still Comics?/La BD digitale est-elle encore une BD?

Comics were born on paper a bit more than a century ago either in a book format with the Swiss Töpffer or in American newspapers. Digital comics have quickly multiplied since the very beginning of the new technologies such as internet, mobile phone, etc., in particular in some countries (USA, Korea, Japan, and to a lesser extent France). But are these “comics” still comics? The word, in particular the English word “comics” is confusing because it refers more to the content (i.e., funny) and it is true that statistically many “comics,” including “digital comics” are funny. However, the form and format are very different. There are two ways of creating digital comics. One is just transferring the same content/form without changing anything (same page/s) onto the new platform. But then the question is: what does this new “comics” bring (other than another mode of diffusion)? And what do the readers lose with that same story on a new platform? The other way is to adapt comics or create comics directly for the new media (e.g., by producing sound instead of using the ideograms and onomatopeias keeping the experience as a reading activity, or by creating interactive links to create an interactive activity). But these adaptations to a new medium change comics into something else, closer or even similar to for example animation (dessin animé) or (basic) video games. In my presentation, using some brief concrete examples, I will show the various solutions used by some French (collective of) artists like Les Autres Gens and some art works produced for the “Comics-Medium in Museums” Exhibition to address these questions. Although one can, and actually many do, still use the same word “comics” for these new stories on these new technologies, the experience and the meanings produced by it could be quite different.