The Previously Mentioned Conference Pecha-Kucha

6 08 2012

Those who pay attention may have noticed that I posted earlier in the year about the acceptance of my proposal for a Pecha-Kucha(pronounced peh-chach-ka and meaning “chit-chat”) at The Third International Comics Conference: Comics Rock. (Here) Well that did happen and I did present my research there on Friday 29th June with great response. The whole day of presentations and academic chin-wagging was really great to be a part of and was well worth going to. I had meant to post whole Pecha-Kucha here since with a little bit about the questions I was asked and what I learnt from the experience. Me being me however that didn’t happen as soon after the event as I had planned because I got into other projects.


So this is it; the Pecha-Kucha I gave at The Third International Comics Conference: Comics Rock. Enjoy, and ask questions in the comments.

<– Presentation here –> (at some point in the future when I have managed to record it)

If you would prefer to read through at your leisure you can see a .PDF of the slides and notes here –> Pages and Screens Pecha kucha – Jayms Clifford Nichols


Due to somebody dropping out of the session there was a good deal of time available for questions about my research after the pecha kucha had been given. This was a really fruitful experience and really allowed me to explain more clearly certain aspects of the work. It also gave me a lot of food for thought about both the research itself and how I present it.

In the following section I am going to address certain questions that people had and clear up a few points.

Firstly, my use of certain words was questioned and showed that I need to more clearly define them. Here is a little glossary of terms to help clear up some words which may appear to have an ambiguous meaning.

  • Raster – The culturally defined path which you follow with our eyes across a page.
  • Redundant – I do not use redundant to mean unimportant, unnecessary or unneeded as it is used in common speech but instead borrow the term from interactive media theory and cybernetics where it means an action or event that is highly predictable or expected as part of an established convention. e.g. the convention when reaching the end of a page is to turn to the next page.
  • Naviscroll – The action of swiping or tapping the tablet screen to progress from page to page.
  • Immediacy –  Used here, refers to something that is done without thinking and is borrowed from Bolter and Grusin. It is something that does not remind the reader of the form of the reading.
  • Hypermediacy – Another word borrowed from Bolter and Grusin which is the opposite of immediacy(above) and refers to something that reminds the user/reader of the format which the narrative takes. (Click here for a more detailed glossary of Bolter and Grusin’s terms)

As my research touches on a number of different subject areas, from comics to interactive media to reading theory I have appropriated a number of specialist words from these areas and applied them to one another. This caused some confusion to those without an interactive media background and it is clear that in future I need to have clearer definitions of my terms as part of my presented research.

The other questions tended to focus around whether tablet displays benefited the comics medium or not and whether they offered restriction from an artistic point of view. Also whether I thought they would eventually replace the print based comic as we know it now. I won’t go into these questions here but if you want me to answer these or any other questions please leave a comment below.


A Place at the Comics Rock Conference in Bournemouth

4 04 2012

On June 28th and 29th the The Third International Comics Conference: Comics Rock is being held at Bournemouth University. I submitted an abstract which has been accepted and I am now working on a Pecha Kucha (a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (approx. 6′ 40″ in total)) for the event. The title of the Pecha Kucha is ” Pages and Screens; Reading changes and interactions – re adapting the double page spread” and falls under the “Comics and multiple media” heading.

The Abstract which I submitted is below so if you are interested please come along and see the presentation.

“Emergent interactive technologies (e.g. tablet computers and smart-phones) and consumer demand for media forms to be available digitally at any time via the internet has lead to a series of transformative changes in the ways in which we read and interact with comics. With these changes come a series of difficulties and challenges in the way comics are displayed on screen. It is these challenges in our reading of, and interaction with, digital comics that this study addresses through a critical evaluation of the required differences in presentation of the printed page and the on-screen display.
A comic printed in the form of the codex book has a different set of constrains to that of the digital screen and in turn the type and size of screen offers a different set of constraints again. The repurposing of comics from paper pages to on-screen “pages” must therefore reflect these changes in constraints by adapting to them; something which currently is only done to a limited degree. Through a study of super hero comics displayed on tablets with the more popular applications I suggest that simply transferring traditional comic book pages onto the screen is not enough and some other changes need to be made so as not to interrupt the reading process. A consumer’s reading process can be interrupted by the presence of interactive elements that require breaking from the flow of the story (rotating the device, zooming in or out, etc.). These elements require adaptation of specific pages to allow them to be viewed in a more immersive manner. The focus of this paper is on the use of double page spreads and how they can be adapted to the screen for an easier and less intrusive presentation of panels and their sequence.”

And here is a link to the Comics Rock event website; so go have a look.

My PhD: As it is and what I do

9 12 2011

The  field of study for my PhD is based in comics as my MA was and combines interactive theory and panel-sequence reading  to develop understanding of, and practice in, comics and other panel-sequence story in the digital environment. On a basic level the study is about how we read comics on digital media displays and how the practices and process of digital media effects our reading processes and by extension the forms that panel-sequence story can take in the digital environment.

So that’s a really quick statement about what I study. What follows is a sort-of abridged version of my actual PhD that covers it in slightly more detail. So if you think you are interested in learning about comics in the digital environment then read on and (hopefully) enjoy.

The PhD has to start with something, and what better place to start than the title. So here goes:

Reading Acts and Acts of Reading in Digital Comics: A Study of panel-sequence reading processes in an age of interactive display technologies.

The title is pretty self explanatory and, perhaps, tells you what I’m doing better than the little intro to this post. It’s all about reading. Reading comics in the digital environment.

That’s the topic but what of the research itself? The research starts with a research question that sets out the goals and bands of study for the project:

How is/are the processes and acts of reading the panel-sequence story re-worked by the use of interactive display devices rather than printed paper page? – This is the overriding question that governs the direction of research, this is then broken down into 5 parts or research areas (most of which, you will notice, overlap in some way) which are as follows.

i. How has and how can the processes and acts of reading panel-sequence story be understood, described and discussed?  – Generally boils down to the idea “how do we understand panel-sequence story and how do we talk about it?”

ii. How has and how can the processes and acts of interactive media concerned with story be understood, described and discussed? – The same as the above really. Only replacing “panel-sequence story” with the other important element of the research; interactive media.

iii. How can (i) and (ii) be brought together to develop methods and models of understanding, analysis and discussion that address emergent forms of panel sequence story? – This is basically taking the understanding from both of the above areas and combining them to develop an understanding of the newer form on digital panel-sequence story.

iv. How has and how can our understanding of paper based reading inform our understanding and analysis of interactive media based panel-sequence story? – This section is all about the form the panel-sequence story takes. Simplified it asks “how have paper based comics influenced our understanding of screen comic?”

v. How has and how can our understanding of digital display hardware and software technologies, and their history and processes of interaction inform our reading, development analysis and consumption of digital panel-sequence stories? – All about the technology, how we use it and what it means for digital comics. There is a pretty strong focus on how we read and produce digital panel sequence story for tablets and other portable devices here.

So that’s the basics of it. There is a little more to it that that but that about sums up the underlying principles of what I am looking at and doing. More will become clear as I talk about specific areas of research in future posts on this blog.

Blogging 3.2: The Return of the Blog

8 12 2011

It’s been a while but I’ve finally got my act together and sorted out getting this blog back up and running. Quite a lot has happened since last I posted (a year and a half ago almost) so there’s a bit to catch up on.

Firstly, I finished the MA and achieved a Commendation grade so whoop to that one. It’s a shame I didn’t get the final piece totally polished in time for the hand in but what I did do was demonstrate all the understanding and theory I had hoped to alongside the visual style I used for my interactive comic.

Once the MA was done with I moved on to start my PhD and that is what I have been doing over this period of inactivity that the blog has gone through.

The first year or so of the PhD is really all about gathering as much information as you can in your field of study, creating a reading list of all the important works already completed and preparing a full proposal and plan for the course of study you intend to take outlining all the topics and aims of the project. All this information is then collected to form the registration document which must be passed as worthy of PhD research in order to continue. This is the last stage of progression I reached and I’m now continuing with research and writing to create my thesis.

This blog with now be used as a kind of note book for all my research and writing as I progress through the PhD. Enjoy and ask any questions you can think of.