A pop-up comic using fold-in technology
August 27, 2009 9:03 AM   Subscribe

How can I fold a comic book page to make a story more interesting and still legible when unfolded?

I'm working on an idea for a comic book -- pitched pretty young -- that focuses on parts of the comic where the reader interacts with the comic to move the story forward. (Totally unrelated to this comic book project, still in development).

As a f'rinstance: characters have to cross a bridge over a chasm, but the bridge has collapsed in the middle. A character implores the reader to fold the page, Jaffee style, to eliminate the gap in the bridge. The reader can then turn the page, the characters are on the other side of the bridge, and the story continues. If the second page (the crossed-the-bridge page) is then unfolded, the gap in the bridge is still there, or maybe another character has figured out a way to cross (using yarn or a tree branch) in the middle of the page.

I'm trying to think of other ways to engage young readers by manipulating the comic itself. Reversed text and holding it up to a mirror is a possibility, so is folding over the last third of a nine-panel grid page (with another nine-panel grid on the back) to alter a story in progress.

Paul Grist does brilliant fourth-wall stuff with Jack Staff, but this is going to be for a much younger audience, so I can't get too clever. I also don't want to do anything destructive (so no cutting, tearing, or punching holes). Gatefold pages and die cuts might be a possibility, but I don't know if the publisher would be enthused about the additional expense.

In essence, I'm trying to cheapjack a pop-up book in comic-book format: something that will give children that fun, hands-on interactive quality, but only using folds and trickery (turn the book upside down, look at it in a mirror, fold a corner, etc.). I've got a few ideas, but I'd like to see what the hive mind has up its sleeve, especially since I know we have a lot of smart papercrafters in here that will have better ideas than me on this.
posted by Shepherd to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A clever bit in Rising Stars: the art on one side of the page was of a character sitting, depressed and apparently alone, in an empty room. On the reverse were strewn a number of images and speech bubbles, printed backwards and somewhat faintly.

When you held the page up against a bright light, the two sides resolved into a single image: the depressed character was a medium thronged by complaining ghosts.
posted by Iridic at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2009

Oh, I remember that page in Rising Stars!

Maybe a "word puzzle" kind of thing where, by folding, the letters that don't belong disappear?

It's got nothing to do with paper folding, but there are several letters written in code in the (very adult oriented) Bottomless Bellybutton by Dash Shaw.

(There is a chance that, if you poke around Shaw's site long enough, you're going to see cartoon dongs. Also, that Amazon review gave away one of the best panels in the book, WTF.)
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:50 AM on August 27, 2009

Dave Sim of Cerebus fame did something like this, though it involved no folding.

It was several pages describing the falling of something (no plot spoilers!) on a city, destroying much of it. For each page of that sequence, the art on the page was rotated to give a sense of disorder. You physically had to rotate each page in order to read it, which did a good job of conveying just how climatic and big the fall of this something was.

As a bonus it's not destructive and doesn't involve any special folds, cuts, or stuff like that, which keeps the cost of printing down and makes the publisher much happier i.e. wiling to do it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2009

Check out some of Jason Shiga's stuff, especially the "Interactive" section here. They are great fun to read and play with. Some of it is more choose-your-own-adventure style stuff, but you might get some inspiration from it.
posted by babar at 11:35 AM on August 27, 2009

You've probably seen text that is stretched so much that it looks like vertical bars or a barcode, but if you slant the page so that you're looking across the page, the text becomes legible.

Are exotic inks a possibility? There are various interactive inks, but they don't seem to fit the cheapjack approach.

Similar to the Rising Stars suggestion, images can be printed on separate pages so that the child aligns them manually when looking through the sheets, and if you're clever, you can have the words change depending on the alignment chosen, or create an animation sequence by slowly sliding one page against the other (you won't get much detail or much more than six frames though)
(On a similar trajectory, I assume that some pages being printed on acetate transparency are not in the running.)

You could make a sundial by folding a page to create a gnomon?

You could use page bleed to print something at the edge of each page, so that it looks like a border on the page, but if you fan out several pages, an image appears, as the borders get stacked together into a larger mosaic.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:54 AM on August 27, 2009

One possibility if you have enough pages is to have a little flip-book animation in the corner (maybe a couple of corners).
posted by juv3nal at 12:27 PM on August 27, 2009

You've probably seen text that is stretched so much that it looks like vertical bars or a barcode, but if you slant the page so that you're looking across the page, the text becomes legible.

Yeah, anamorphosis! You can do it for images too.
posted by Iridic at 12:43 PM on August 27, 2009

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