Distinguishing Mediality: The Problem of Identifying Forms and Features of Digital Comics
Do digital comics constitute a different “medium” than print comics? Many researchers have discussed whether comics make up a medium at all. The problem seems to be, in contrast to films or video games, the absence of a defining technology. Whatever separates a given “medium” in a conventional sense from others, however, doesn’t actually lie in its technological, material or semiotic properties, but in its culturally qualifying aspects: recognizable medial forms, for instance, that distinguish a medial configuration sufficiently for given observers. This article understands the mediality of (digital) comics as partly produced by rhetorical effects, based on contested discussions and discourses surrounding the alleged differences and similarities between digital and print comics. It aims to show how we can not only observe digital comics as new objects of inquiry, but actually observe said distinctions in order to learn something about the changing cultural implications of “comicness” in general, as well as about the interplay between material and technological properties on the one hand and compositional aspects on the other.