Progress check – Graphic Novel and Web Comic

Blog postings have slowed over the past couple of weeks as I have been immersed in thesis presentations and job interviews for teaching positions. Prepping for these has been exciting, but time consuming.

Graphic novel and web comic

I’ve managed to get about 12 pages of chapter 2 completed in spite of all this, and I am pleased with the look and pacing thus far. Chapter 1 continues to show up in Friday morning (GMT-5) installments of single — and sometimes double-page spreads for those who were not able to get in on the full chapter 1 launch back in November. I’m confident that I can keep up the pace but a lot depends on how the rest of this semester goes and whether a teaching position out-of-state requires me to move this summer. If it looks like producing pages is going to slow down, I may have to resort to single panels for my Friday postings. I’m going to post a piece from chapter 2 here on the blog sometime in March. I’m trying to decide what to tease people with.

Design fiction thesis

I’m in the final stages of my written thesis, (trying to focus on formatting) but there is some much news, research and commentary coming out, on a weekly basis concerning design fiction that I’m constantly tempted to add in new stuff. I’m at that stage where I simply have to stop writing. A co-worker at OSU was generous enough to share her inDesign formatting options so I am hoping that I can just dump my existing Word doc into the format, do a little tweaking and then submit it to the college for review. Pending their approval and the approval of my committee in April, I will have the written portion printed and I can call it a “wrap.” Of course, it will probably never end since design fiction is my research focus and I hope to be adding to the body of work at whatever institution of higher learning that I end up at. I have already outlined some essentials for a design fiction class, and recently conducted a design fiction workshop with my visual communication students. There were some interesting results.


More to come.


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Diegetic prototypes from the design fiction graphic novel and webcomic

The grand purpose behind this blog is to chronicle the progress of my thesis and my graphic novel. Of course, the two are intimately related. The thesis objective is to participate and contribute to the discussion and practice of design fiction. Design is changing and that means that designers will have to change, like it or not. I believe that it is better to be conscious of this change and to participate in it rather than waking up one day and finding that you no longer recognize your profession. Design fiction asks us to imagine a plausible future—even just a possible one. Like, what happens when hardware disappears and the technology we use becomes internalized; or when messages become thoughts. What will be visual? What will be virtual? Environments? Software? Design fiction, through the creation of diegetic prototypes provides legibility for the ideas that surround this.


Linked to this, is the science fiction, crime thriller, graphic novel currently in progress. The story takes place in Hong Kong 2, in the year 2159 and is built and rendered to scale completely in CG. It’s also a web comic.


This particular post focuses on one of the more prominent prototypes in story: the embedded, two-way, luminous implants that appear on the fingertips of the Hong Kong populace. These “luminous implants” do everything from “dialing the phone” (called tapping), accessing the Lightstream (the evolved Internet of 2159), sending or receiving data feeds from active touch surfaces, and controlling body chemistry. They are used for security and identification as a “smart fingerprint”, they can be outfitted with a pheromone release system for attracting the opposite sex, and they even change color to match your mood or fashion. Exploiting the purpose behind diegetic prototypes (to suspend disbelief about change) the implants figure into several aspects of the story. If you are roving around the city you are likely to see the Luminous Systems advertisements that are floating around, and I have incorporated a scene inside the Luminous Systems store. I have designed it as a sort of Zen spa meets Apple Store. I see the implants as standard piece of bio-hardware that gets implanted under the skin at an early age, like 5 or 6 years. Digging into the idea a little deeper, I found the idea of tapping, to be a fascinating angle.

Learning to use your new luminous implants. Click to enlarge.
Learning to use your new luminous implants. Click to enlarge.

Since there is a direct connection to the brain, voice, sight hearing, taste and, of course, touch, learning the tap language,  is just a matter of infusing the program and watching your fingertips light up as it prompts you through the language. This immediately becomes “remembered” information. To give it a bit more reality, I designed this “user’s manual” for beginners. Ready to order?

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