A couple of years ago I attended a lecture by comics researcher (and artist!) Scott McCloud, which I throughly enjoyed. McCloud is interested in how comics work–he calls them “sequential art,” and his books are fascinating dissections of the fundamental artistic techniques upon which that medium is based.
One of McCloud’s recent interests is the use of comic books on the internet. Web-based comics are interesting to him from a monetization perspective, but he also talks about the use of space for art that is not bound by the borders of a physical page. At his lecture, he showed examples of comics that scroll left to right in a really, really long window, but don’t actually require any clicking. His point, I think, is that when freed from the constraints of a physical page, comics have the opportunity to really flex their muscles as an art form.
Today I ran across something that would make McCloud pretty happy. It’s a short horror comic in Korean (second post about hangul this week!), and you can read it by scrolling down. You don’t need to read the language to enjoy it. You do, however, need sound.
Did you read it yet? Click the link now and come back when you’re done (assuming you are not balled up on the couch after that).
This is similar to Red Room, which I referenced briefly in my feature about Japanese horror. It’s using its medium–an internet web page–to dramatically increase its scare effect by doing something you do not expect. Red Room is harder to enjoy if you can’t speak Japanese, but the mechanics are similar; after setting the scene about an internet-based viral curse, the game springs the same trick on your browser that killed the story’s main characters.
What is so fantastic about this comic and Red Room is that they are utilizing their medium to do things that you do not expect them to be able to do. Sure, it’s a pop-out scare, but it’s effective because it pops out of your screen, right at you, through your browser. Unlike the zombie dogs crashing through the window to attack your avatar in Resident Evil, these sites are targeting you, the viewer, directly. If you can’t trust your own browser, what can you trust? By breaking the normal rules of the web, these pieces are putting you squarely in a position of lost control. And that’s where horror is best.