Better Storytelling Through Technology

By | Tuesday, April 17, 2007 Leave a Comment
I'm a big proponent of using currently available technology to streamline existing processes. I still get a kick out of leaving the house and knowing that when I get back, clothes will have been washed, dishes will have been cleaned and the floor will have been vaccumed. But is there a way to take advantage of computer software to tell stories?

Obviously, there is. The lead time need these days for comic book production is much less than in years past -- the inker, letterer and colorist can all work on the same project at the same time thanks to digital scanning, and zap their files off to the publisher from across the country hours before it's due at the printer. Writers can bang through scripts with greater/faster effeciency thanks to word processors, and spell checkers can aid writers, editors and letterers. There's been talk lately that mainstream artists are using more 3-D rendering programs to figure out multiple perspectives on unique architectures. Well, let me add one more element to the mix: digital artistry.

Oh, sure, artists have been using computers to create comic book artwork for at least a couple of decades now. Mike Saenz's Shatter (a great read, by the way) was started way back in 1985 and, as the technology has improved, so has the digital art. But there still needed to be an artist who knew the tools available and work with them. Even with the advent of comparitively simple programs like Poser, there still was something of a minimum artistic knowledgebase needed.

Now, check out these unmodified screen captures from Second Life...
They give rise to some story possibilities, don't they? A little cropping and some basic text could easily make these into a story. How about these same images (and a few others) with some slight modifications?
"We were ready to set sail the next morning."

"As the pirates began their boarding raid, I dove off the starboard side side of the vessel."

"I awoke, having washed up on the shore of a rocky beach."

"I whirlled around, trying to surprise my pursuer."

All I've done is applied a couple of built-in Photoshop filters to the artwork to make give it something of an old engraving feel, and added some captions that might be reminiscent of a on older pulp novel. But it's almost a story already for what was literally no more than an hour's work.

Now supposing you had a few different avatars to work with? And you put a little more time into some actual character and plot development? With a little prep work, you could create your own comic book without being able to draw a single thing!
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