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Panel Transitions

Another mapping problem seemed to be more of a cultural problem than anything else: A user viewing a program on a computer screen tends to expect a more dynamic display. In other words, a reader has a different set of expectations and standards for programs running on a computer than for material printed in a book. The static comic book frames alone would not satisfy the reader's expectations when presented on-screen, so it was necessary to add a dynamic nature to the display of frames.



Figure 3. Comic book nomenclature.

The technique chosen was to have the full frame background fade into view, but with only the first panel actually drawn in place. After pausing long enough for the text to be read on the displayed panel, the next panel in the sequence would fade into place.



Figure 4. Example of panel transitions -- one panel fades in at a time, in sequence.

This process has several effects on how the comic book is read. First, it further limits the ability of the reader to view the entire page design at a glance. However, since most of this effect had already been sacrificed when mapping the page to the screen, this was considered a relatively minor point. On the other hand, the effect adds significant visual interest to the material, helping to hold the reader's attention. Also, because only one panel is displayed at a time, one can better maintain the suspense in the story. In a normal comic, there is nothing to stop the reader from glancing down to the bottom of the page to see what is coming. In fact, because of the nature of the layout, it is easy for someone to do this even by mistake. With the electronic version, this cannot happen.

The end result of having the panel transitions is that the reader tends to remain more focused on the current panel and the story itself as it unfolds, instead of being distracted by all of the graphics and text of a full page. However, some will argue that this could be considered a significant loss since it does enforce a manner of reading that the comic book format does not.

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    [Return to Top] Copyright 1997, Mark R. Johnson.
Last modified 6/11/97.