Graphic Vook-lence

Comics have pretty much lost their stigma as being just for kids and nerdy adults – even cute girls seem to have realized the geeks are onto something – and the Internet has been a huge player in making graphic storytelling more accessible. At Vook, graphic novels are a medium we’re really excited about, and not just because Watchmen did fairly well at the box office. Animation is definitely something we want to bring to Vook: charts, diagrams, even sharp historical lessons are all more interesting when they become quick, compelling videos. We found it a lot easier to get our heads around the credit crises after we saw an animated visualization of it from Jonathan Jarvis, a student at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Explanations like his once only came from a detailed newspaper article or an economics professor, but a graduate student whose real expertise is design turned the disaster into something everyone could understand – without neglecting depth and complexity.

Of course, animations are also great for storytelling. We’ve been churning through a lot of the graphic novels available in the Itunes stores, and while they’re pretty great and fun to read, we feel ourselves yearning for them to be something else – something bigger, better, more elegant and immersive. A little animation goes a long way. Just check out this excellent take on Neil Gaiman’s sweet and slightly sad little poem, “The Day the Saucers Came.” (You might have to be patient, it seems to have a long load time.) Though it doesn’t use flashy graphics or lots of movement, the images pair up with the words perfectly, and the whole experience becomes a lot more involving. It’s certainly a piece that we’re taking inspiration from at Vook. The poem’s part of Microsoft’s Infinite Canvas application that’s still in the Alpha phase – and as of this writing was having some problems loading at the home page. The piece implements Microsoft’s Deep Zoom technology, which, according to the blog Ars Technica, lets you “smoothly zoom regardless of the size of the screen, bandwidth of your network, or the complexity of the images you’re looking at.” If such a simple effect can make the reading experience more powerful, imagine what’s going to happen to books when we combine them with the full range of options we’re providing at Vook . . . Books and computers might really become one, as in “Notebook,” a very charming short video from Dutch art student Evelien Lohbeck.

WATCH: “The Crisis of Credit Visualized”

WATCH: “The Day the Saucers Came”

WATCH: “Notebook”

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