Digital comics have become a very convenient source for people to consume comics in a more cost effective way as well as environmentally friendly manner. Consumers have every comic at the touch of their fingertips in one seemingly endless space. What many readers haven’t considered is how digital comics shape not only how we read the text, but how we interpret the narrative and the art of the comic as well. Features like guided view, which is offered by comixology, have changed how comics are read, and in my view, not always in a good way.
Guided viewing in digital comics is a feature that allows readers to go through the comic a panel at a time. Some say this feature can help see the art in much greater detail as well as bring attention to text within the panel that cannot normally be read easily. This view is necessary on the iPhone because of the small screen size. You wouldn’t be able to read the text without it.
On a bigger screen, such as a tablet or computer, I find this feature not only useless, but hindering in my comic experience. This feature goes through each panel on its own as if it is a page in of itself, sometimes even focusing on one specific area of a panel at a time. What is the value and art of a page if the panel is the page?
It gives the comic and text its own flow that the creator never intended. This feature is a fundamental change in how we read the text itself. Pages and panels are planned out with a certain flow that helps guide the readers eye along with the action within the comic as well as the text/dialogue within it. An article on Letter Better explains how the guided view cuts and pastes comic pages into something more of a flip book than a whole piece of art.
I can understand how using guided view can be helpful. It can allow readers a more up close look into the details and background of the comic and further appreciate the story and its art. I also think it could lead to further advancements in digital comics such as in panel animation and interactive digital comics.
As a tool with current comic creation, which is still geared towards physical print, I feel that guided view takes away from looking at the comic has a whole; it is a piece of art that should be examined as it is given, and not cut and paste in way that takes away from the author’s intent. I do think that if this becomes a popular way for reading comics, illustrators and writers could come up with really creative ways to design comics that are specially supposed to be read with a guided view.
For now though, I think I’ll stick with my own view, then one that is cut up and given to me.