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Artist Demonstrates The Difficulty Of Depicting Modern Technology Via Cartooning

The power of cartooning stems from its ability to distill visual information until it becomes almost purely iconic — all killer, no filler, essentially. But what happens when the icons themselves change? How do cartoonists respond to evolving visual language? As pointed out by artist Tom Pappalardo, when it comes to a lot of modern technology, keeping up can be a challenge. In his humorous blog post titled “Cartooning vs. Technology: How Steve Jobs Ruined Comics,” Pappalardo not only provides a few examples of how smartphones, tablets, flat screen TVs and other technological advancements can crowd narratives and challenge cartoony depictions, but also how skilled cartoonists might counter these increasingly cumbersome issues in their work.From Pappalardo’s blog:

In many ways, technology-especially consumer-driven technology-has been striving for the same thing as cartoonists for years now. Simpler, smaller, more streamlined. Minimalist. Removing as much of the object as possible, leaving only the key components (in technology’s case, the interface, the screen). Steve Jobs led the way for elegant and simple device design, and it’s a beautiful thing. But a cartoonist might reach a point where representing something in a super-simplified style when the object itself is already super-simplified becomes increasingly difficult.

The issues Pappalardo brings up are the most apparent in short comic strips where artists have less time and room for detail to establish an object’s identity. Many of his examples, as well as his tongue-in-cheek forecast of the future have been at least partially addressed in superhero comics, where heroes like the X-Men frequently use alien technology or communicate via telepathy. Of course, longer-form sci-fi stories give creators substantially more visual wiggle room than, say, a three-panel gag about something like what’s on the news.

Check out a few of Pappalardo’s examples of cartooning trying to respond to tech below, and be sure to check the rest out at his official site.

[Via The Daily Cartoonist]

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