Archive for the 'scans_daily' Category

on immersive reading

I’ve had some thoughts brewing for a while about the artist-audience dance, and the ways that different art media encourage participation.

It would seem that roleplaying (or any kind of creative writing, of which roleplaying is a subset) is the extreme end of this spectrum – you’re creating everything yourselves, with the audience essentially taking on so much creative agency that they swallow the artist and assume his role as well.

But every form of art invites some amount of responsive creation on the part of the audience. I’m interested in investigating how this response is encouraged or discouraged by specific aspects of the original creation:

  • works that imply a whole unexplored universe (like Harry Potter and Star Wars, or really all kinds of sf/speculative fiction) obviously invite it.
  • Serial works also seem to be more inclined to support this: when you only get a weekly or monthly (or less) dosage, you’re inclined to fill in some of the gaps yourself.
  • As I was saying to somebody, serialized works literally take longer to consume – maybe not a longer total length of time, but they’re spread over months or years, and therefore an investment in that work is an investment of a sizeable portion of your life.
  • They also invite a community to form, one which follows the work as it comes out, discusses what’s come before, and anticipates what’s to come in the future.
  • Is that anticipation essential? Are non-serial, one-shot works automatically less likely to inspire audience interaction, because the story’s over and done with the moment it comes out?
  • What else? What makes some works more successful than others in eliciting audience involvement? And how can this knowledge be used to make more immersive art in the future?
  • Am I right in suspecting that thanks to JK Rowling and the internet, a generation of readers is arising that is accustomed to reading art in a more immersive way than in days gone by? I can only offer anecdotal evidence from things like Scans_Daily where I can watch individual fangirls getting into superhero comics for the first time, and automatically start looking for pairings and making icons and applying this whole “fangirl reading vocabulary” or “toolkit” to a new target. I know that fanfiction is nothing new, even in superhero comics, but I still get the sense that this interactive reading method is booming across the board. Look at “claiming” lj communities, where you can literally declare ownership of a celebrity or album or fictional character. That’s as strong an image as I can think of, of this new audience-empowered reading technique.

Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).


Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.