Robert James Algeo on Reading While Seeing:
Comics have always been a medium in dialog with the technologies used to deliver them. From ancient cave paintings and religious stations through saddle-stitched newsprint and contemporary tablet displays, the ways we read and create comics are as deeply affected by the production mechanisms used in reproducing them as they are by their creator's intent. But, what if those technologies have evolved to the point where the actual act and manner of reading a comic can change the content that is seen on the page? Using biometrics, reading speed analytics, and eye-tracking, I am exploring what sorts of new narrative and educational opportunities authors have available to them in constructing engrossing, discoverable, and tailored narratives that react to how the reader is reading in realtime. By detecting reading speed, focal points, and expressions, comic makers now have the power to have their comics change on the fly, meeting readers where they are and enticing them to venture where the author wants to lead them. It is now technologically possible for a comic to know where, when, and how it is being looked at, and now is the time for authors to explore what that means for their narratives and their audience’s understanding of story.
More about Algeo:
Robert James Algeo is a Philadelphia-native cartoonist, web developer, and educator who has been living and working in the Twin Cities since 2009. His comics include Monometric, Hum, and Thirty. His comic Skull Pen Issue One was nominated for The Howard E. Day Prize award in 2007. His body of work received the Twin Cities Metro Magazine Keeper Award in 2012. In 2013, Algeo co-founded Autoptic, a non-profit arts organization committed to the advancement of independent comics and print-based media. Algeo also maintains a robust freelance design and development practice for clients including MTV, Sesame Street, SICK A.G., Nickelodeon and the Steel Shipping Container Institute.
Image courtesy of the artist.