[Editorial Note – Today’s post apparently coincides with the third anniversary of the existence of this blog. Hurray? Anyway, I have to apologize for the interval between when I finished posting chapter 4 and now, but I was just not satisfied with what I had originally written, and so proffer this much longer and hopefully […]
Nimona, then, is a clear example of [comics]-as-web, a mode of [re]production in texts whose many historical iterations make apparent how textuality is not merely an empirically observable and objectively verifiable essence to be deciphered (even if, in the particulars, we might still observe and verify, as, admittedly, I have here) but rather as an interpretive construct, an ongoing project of re-arrangement and contextualization in which texts develop, in time, as they are read and re-read both by human subjects and as a function of frameworks in which they come to be embedded and re-inscribed.
In drawing together early debates in the history of [webcomics] with early developments in HTML, as well as with ideological-as-methodological orientations in typography and computer programming, I have tried to show how, contra the isolating tendencies of book- and future-think, beginning from an assumption of widespread interconnection and articulation between seemingly disparate forms, we might account for certain observable textual phenomena for which both future- and book-think are wholly ill-equipped and which, as a result, both forms of thinking tend to dismiss or address only in passing.
What is not readily apparent in any given webpage, its code, or even in the proclamations of principles and best practices is how the historical fact of what happened in the early history of HTML reflected a clear choice, if not always a conscientious one, of one design ideology over another, an ideology of form that was not merely an expression of a base or lower order, in the present example the “code itself” and in McCloud’s the presumed “nature” of computer hardware, but rather conditioned it to be a certain way, meaning the code conformed to the ideology, not the other way around.
I would argue, then, in parallel to my argument in Chapter 2, that the unconscious of web design is the print periodical (sing.), what with its non-necessary but nevertheless enticing relationships between textual/visual elements in close proximity to one another. McCloud’s reading of the underlying framework for digital texts, which largely extrapolates from and makes a metaphor of hardware (while also ignoring the software platforms these texts have to run on) is simply dead wrong. It actually makes perfect sense that the first [webcomics] to emerge would be so clearly modeled on and derivative from newspaper strips, because their respective textual infrastructures have clear affinities with one another.
[T]he present and, presumably, the near future are times in which we have to deal now with the lingering problems of a complex of technologies that have yet to realize their speculated potential and, I hasten to add, may never do so as a result of interactions that cannot be foreseen. Moreover, the compromises necessary for reading [comics] on the digital platforms that actually exist may, in fact, impede other kinds of reading that require a level of detail that scaled down, compressed images simply cannot offer.