The double page spread, two pages of a comic book combined to create one landscape image for the reader was pioneered by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the nineteen forties. But it found its natural habitat in the superhero comic book of the sixties, giving a super powered punch that extra oomph, an alien landscape that added dimension, or revelling in the the size of a gigantic foe.
But as comic books approach their likely digital future… will they lose their impact? Their appeal? Their point?
On a digital device, it's common for a page to fill the whole screen. When the comic reaches a couble page spread it simply flips it to fit. So the reader has to turn the device to read it – and discover that the definition is much less, the lettering is smaller, some zooming may be necessary to read its component parts. Rather than giving the reader a extra pop, it gives no more than a single page splash – indeed it impedes the narrative flow.
It's a dead duck.
Remarkably digital comic books seem keen to avoid the potential formats that the digital comic does provide, namely the infinite canvas as pioneered by Scott McCloud, offering different flows to page turning, merely trying to replicate the printed comics reading process – showing photocopies of slices of dead trees. Right now I am writing an adaptation of the Alice In Wonderland tunnel fall as a one page thirty foot comic that the reader flows through. But it struck me that this format could apply so well to most comics, all the pages stacked up one above the other flowing down – as long as they have no sticky-out double page spreads of course.
And as more and more comic books start to rely on their digital audience, will they remove the double page spread from both versions?
So, just as I predict its death, why not celebrate some great examples of the form… what are your favourites?