Midnight Rises and Kind of Falls Short

A Comic Review

I was recently thumbing through the recent Ipad apps in the app store when I came across Midnight Rises, an interactive graphic novel written by John Scalzi and illustrated by Mike Choi. It was released this January. I read the first two chapters (the others after you have to purchase to read).

An interesting topic in mass communication is the ways that different types of media deal with changes in technology. Sometimes a transition to new things isn’t very smooth. AT and T, the once monopoly owners of phone lines, tried to stop the internet from becoming a household thing because they didn’t have compatible hardware. That clearly worked.

Music has gone from gramophone to LPs to 8 tracks to CDs and now we’re in a world of music without physical copies and companies are trying to adjust (with streaming becoming the new deal).

Comics are also adjusting. Initially it was just another method of distributing the same type of art. XKCD started out simply as scanned drawings. It seems like it has taken comic creators quite a while to grasp the potential of today’s technology. Which takes me to my review.

Part of me was impressed with the idea of the app.

Interactive comic books have sounded like a great idea to me ever since I saw Tom Hanks’ character in Big basically invent the idea, and that was 1988. 1988, people. It’s been a while in the making. (To clarify, the movie came out in 1988, I prolly didn’t see it till 1998).

Midnight Rises kind of fell short for me, though. It says the plot changes depending on your choices but I tried multiple options and nothing changed in the future storyline, it just changed the current dialogue. I would have liked to have actually swayed the story a bit. The transitions were clunky (except for the swipe to explore bits) and just abrupt from one scene to the next. I did like the small portions that allowed you to swipe through and explore the panel- the foreground and background independently moved and made it seem to have a greater depth. I disliked constantly having things pop up (*new character bio* *history unlocked*). It distracted from the flow of the story and having a history timeline pop up in a random point rather than giving back story through the comic itself, seemed like a cop out.

All that being said…

The art is beautiful. The characters seem interesting (so far) and having a hide and seek portion of it (you can click around and find hidden gems- mostly just coins for their related game) is kind of nice. But I think interactive comics still have a long ways to go. Mostly in the interactive part. Right now it’s a beautiful digital comic- like an animated scanning of a comic book.

Let it go, AT and T- the internet is coming.

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