From Comic to Hypercomic
The medium of comics is undergoing a period of transition as the predominant mode of creation, distribution and consumption shifts from print to digital display. Digital comic pioneers have explored many of the new possibilities offered by the inherent interactivity and multimodality of the medium. It is from out of this period of experimentation and innovation that the hybrid medium of hypercomics has emerged. A hypercomic combines the juxtaposition-based visual language of a comic with the multicursal narrative structure of a hyperfiction. It is a form that foregrounds the importance of reader interaction, with the choices made by the reader influencing elements such as the sequence events are encountered in a story, the outcome of events or the point of view through which events are seen. This chapter traces the emergence of the hypercomic medium from its conceptual roots in the work of Ted Nelson. It considers the paper-based and videogame precursors that have influenced the form’s development and led to its eventual blossoming as an offshoot of the nascent webcomic scene. The chapter also serves to contextualise my own work as a hypercomics practitioner and to examine some of the off-shoots from the medium into physical, gallery-based art installations.