Nawlz.com, a computer graphic novel for the web

Various forms of art lend themselves to adaptation and subsequent mutation via their practice on the web. The graphic novel is obviously an excellent candidate. A computer screen is great for presenting the sorts of images we see in graphic novels. Often the images are developed, at least in part, with programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop.  And, via animation, interactivity, other programming, and audio, there’s great room for interesting mutation.

Whereas some other art forms aren’t going to change much via being practiced to the net. They will be less significant as net art as simply distributed on the net, rather than adapted to the net in more artistically significant ways. They won’t mutate and grow much via their incarnation on the net, whereas art forms such as the ‘graphic novel’ for the computer screen and the net will eventually often be dramatically different from print or film versions of the graphic novel. As different as the horse and carriage from the “horseless carriage,” which is what cars were first called.

Nawlz.com is an interesting graphic novel for the web in its visuals, its occasional animations, and the way it unfolds via clicking on stuff. This site won the webby for net art in 2010. Experiencing it visually and interactively and even sonically is more rewarding than the text itself, I find; the text is somewhat generic or non-descript in voice and character; I find it hard to meditate on the text. And the typeface is often way too small, you gotta want it like 20. But the visuals, and the way they look and move and are arranged on the screen, are very successful. The story seems a bit druggy whacked out but maybe not if I read it more carefully, not sure. Druggy just doesn’t do it anymore.

The granddaddy of this interactive, online approach to comics, as far as I know, is Argon Zark. You can see that Nawlz.com is similar to Argon Zark as a computer graphic novel–but also that Nawlz.com has taken it further.

3 Responses to “Nawlz.com, a computer graphic novel for the web”

  • Fantastic, Jim, thanks for posting this — agreed the text is very sketchy, dodgy, but this is true to the genre, no? Far better flow and sound design than others I have navigated. Very promising, no question.

  • Yes, I suppose you’re right, Gregory, that “this is true to the genre”. The texts and also the stories in graphic novels are usually less interesting than the graphics and their sequencing/arrangement, the way the visuals are narratized, panelled, the way one thing leads to another.

  • I first read Nawlz when it came out in 2008 and I’d forgotten about it since, so thanks for posting this, Jim. Good to view the new issues – ‘view’ being the operative word as, I agree, it’s quite difficult to read, both on account of the size of the text and the quality of the writing. I find there’s far too much text, and it’s rather repetitive. The creator, Stu Campbell, would do well to look at some silent films to see how storytelling can be achieved with visuals alone. He could strip out two thirds of the text (or more?) and let us read the images instead. For the most part, the speech bubbles get in the way of the fantastic imagery, although there are occasions when the text appears more dynamically which work well. Having said that, it’s a great transitional piece – shows where the form is heading.

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