The shapes of comics to come

The cube comics I looked at in my last post used non traditional page formats, and had an emphasis on physical interaction. Web comics can allow the reader to digitally interact with the story – clicking back and forth between pages, displaying animation and emitting sounds. Those that make use of these features are often dubbed “Hypercomics”, and can even have multilinear yet interrelated storylines. The current exhibition at the Pumphouse Gallery in Battersea Park, London, “Hypercomics: The Shapes Of Comics To Come”, places this digital concept in a physical art gallery, set across different levels, where visitors can actually walk through the story and branch off into multiple storylines.

Dave McKeans piece, “The Rut” uses a wide variety of media to describe a violent assault seen from three perspectives, the story becoming more ambiguous as you are led through the gallery.

This section, particularly the cornices that almost resemble StoryCubes, caught my eye, as it’s yet another example of a three-dimensional comic, this time even moving beyond paper as a medium. The “Shapes” portion of the exhibition title suddenly seems very relevant. I wonder how many more comics will make the transition from printed media to sculpture or gallery installation, and whether it would still be accurate to describe them as comics?

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