Good Thing: Escape into the Surreal Hypercomics of Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
One of the ideas explored by Scott McCloud in Reinventing Comics is the notion of the comics page as infinite canvas, doing things a print comic could never hope to do. Many comics makers from the 2000s online comics scene took up the challenge, and one of the standouts was --- and is --- UK artist Daniel Merlin Goodbrey.
Goodbrey’s website, e-merl.com, features a vast array comics, including a month where he lent his eye to a Grant Morrison-like fiction suit called Mr. Nile, and a fable where the moral is “maybe mongooses and weasels weren’t meant to be together.” But his most interesting experiments are his non-linear comics, called “hypercomics” because they employ the same notion as hypertext, being able to link off in many directions at once and lending themselves to non-linear storytelling.
Goodbrey coded and released a Flash-based engine called Tarquin to accommodate the full scope of what he wanted to do, and employed it to tell stories that ranged from the shocking to the sublime.
One of the best examples was Externality, which had everything from a planet where everyone is bored with being on fire all the time, to a battle between an armless (but not harmless) ninja and Jesus, the Son of God.
He also merged classic SCUMM-style adventure games with comic books, in projects such as The Empty Kingdom (site uses sound), where you’re a king walking between panels and trying to find out what’s going on in your kingdom.
If you want to see what can be done when the comics form finds itself out of physical space, give the comics of Daniel Merlin Goodbrey a try, and follow him on Twitter to see what his next project will be!
In Good Thing we celebrate something we love from comics or pop culture, because every day could use something good.