360 Format in Comics : The Transformation of Surface, not Camera

Some of you may ask what’s the difference between a web comic and VR Webtoon(VR Comic) regarding the way the audiences face the comic. Isn’t it simply facing a drawing/picture after all? Technically, that’s not how VR Webtoon(VR Comic) works. After the release of our new app, some questions have popped up regarding the difference in the viewpoint of the user in the two respective platforms.

A comic is different from a video, which delivers only one content per camera.

The audiences’ view in VR Webtoon(VR Comic) is not simply a front-view. The medium of comics is different from the medium of videos in terms of the usage of a camera. In the case of comics, a page exists like the paper or the smartphone screen. These pages are separated into singular frames or the composition is purposely drawn from a certain camera angle that makes the drawing look exaggerated and/or even eliminated. The way to read comics is unrestricted in terms of form and environment. You can read it while laying down or even while riding the subway. However, in the case of mobile comics, the restriction caused by the UX, the surface area, and the vertical navigation—which in fact makes up even more supplementary frames—shrinks the area of the comic to portray a full, intended image. Also, mobile comics have to be uploaded in a weekly manner and it’s restricted by a small screen, which causes the quality of both the drawing and supportive criticisms to degrade. Hence, those kind of comics are technically a text and story based content. Some people misunderstand ComixV as a VR ‘animation’ company, but we aren’t. Frankly speaking, comics are more close to a novella than an animation and it’s most alike to a fairy tale. We’d repeatedly emphasize that animation production is not in our plans for now.

[ComixV] Walk the Alley (Choi, Hochul) – 2016, Gwanghwamoon Winter

In comics, VR is a suitable match to mobile devices in terms of change in perception. A new expansion of surface has begun.

If we track back in time to when digital comics had not even existed yet, the way to read comics was through the medium of a paper’s surface. Even if it was published in poor quality, it’s inarguable that it was more effective to deliver the contents than today’s smartphones. Several differences might be that comics were less accessible back then, and it was given less credit along with negative connotations. Originally, comics aren’t read in front-view. As a matter of fact, nowadays the audience’s reading direction is also not front-view, but rather it flows vertically. However, 360 doesn’t mean the change in individual frames(individual camera), instead it’s the change in surface. It’s not 3D, but instead it’s 2D in a 360 perspective. Once the surface turns into 360 degrees, the artist is in full control of either drawing on the whole 360 space, or divide that space into individual multiple frames, or even portray it more multidimensionally.

You’d realize how huge of a transformation this is if you are aware of the history of how mobile devices have changed the genre of comics and expression techniques. It’ll be impossible to say that VR Webtoon(VR Comic) and web comic are similar. We humbly assume that’s one of the reasons why many researchers and academic professions such as professors have shown high interest in our content.

Our experiment goes on and will cohesively connect the past and the future of comics.

Furthermore, to be honest we don’t have an absolute answer, yet. Hence, we’re continuously and variously experimenting. (Check the link for more details.)

“Why Did ComixV Reproduce These Works in VR?”

Our experimentation will keep going on. Even though we’ve released an Android app, I’m just a beginner as a developer. After considering various platforms and starting a business, the company was sustained for 4 months with two resident employees, and the actual production development with the four members was done within only 2 months. In fact, our main target is the Gear VR among the VR HMD and Daydream. They have two distinguishable features, and VR has had more immense responses at BICOF.

Actually, our content has a critical issue of incoherency with the artists’ original intention, the FOV. Therefore, the first priority plan for us is to edit and solve the problem. No matter how hectic we are and receiving calls from numerous places the upcoming week, the working team will instantly undergo the editing process. New works are continuously being discussed during the BICOF week. Stay tuned. We’re receiving many criticisms along with the immense interest and recognition. As long as we hear those kind of feedbacks, we’ll notice our flaws and realize our pathway to move on.

Today children ask for more VR HMD experiences at the exhibition, whereas once the same hype and interest was given to the respected honorary artists and their works in the past… ComixV will be connecting those two past and future of comics together.

ComixV CEO (Porco, Byoung Seok Yang)