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.
The most common locution nowadays is to speak of media texts as on the Web, as if it were a mere anywhere upon which a mere anything might be projected but which is in no way dependent upon that anywhere, but I will prefer to speak of [comics] and so-called [webcomics] in particular as in the web [sic] of complex textual inter-relations drawn from and not merely depicting a print milieu whose own observable articulations in what I have so far called a print periodical (sing.) signaled quite clearly [comics’] will be as already are.
It was suggested to me recently that it might be worth while, though I find it rather boring, to say a little something about the nuts and bolts of this blog, the book project I imposed upon it, despite its “limited” manga purview, and how my career as a scholar and on again off again academic has been affected by it, so instead of taking my usual week off before writing the next “intermissive” of [Comics] as Reading, I thought I might take this opportunity to note what has gone well, what has gone not so well, and what has genuinely surprised me over the past few years.
I arrive, then, as close as I can come to a definition of alter-textuality, only to shortly depart hereafter, one in which form itself is susceptible to a number of readings, interpretations which lie not merely in the higher order of exegesis, i.e. the determination of meaning, but also in a lower and therefore more fundamental order where reading determines, provisionally but also necessarily, what a given text is at all. As readings multiply, so too, potentially, do determinations of form, in accordance with any number of overlapping and ever developing logics: social conventions, constraints of differing contexts, idiosyncrasies of reading, material modes–a cacophony of textual conditions none of which is necessary or sufficient but all of which demand greater attention.