A Brief Survey of Experimental Comic Books

Comic book properties are constantly being licensed in the entertainment world, but some of the most interesting transformations are still happening in print. Artists, designers, filmmakers, and writers are pushing the boundaries of the medium by exploring the structural characteristics of comic books, narrative innovations, the dynamic integration of word and image, and complex subjects. We took a look at 10 different experimental comics, inspired by a tactile book for the blind that we spotted on Co.Design (featured after the jump). See how a once niche product has gradually shifted to an experimental medium.

Photo credit: Philipp Meyer
Photo credit: Philipp Meyer
Photo credit: Philipp Meyer
Photo credit: Philipp Meyer

During a university course about comics, interactive designer Philipp Meyer took on the challenge of creating a comic book for the visually impaired. His foray into tactile storytelling was aided by Nota — an organization that creates unique reading materials for people who cannot read ordinarily printed text — and one of their Braille proofreaders, Michael Drud. After several experiments, in which Meyer considered the simplicity of the story, size of the representations, and the capabilities of different readers, the designer came up with his comic book Life. “One has to take into consideration that most born-blind readers didn’t get in contact with the comic medium ever before,” Meyer writes on his website. “My goal was to create a story that is equally explorable for people with and without eyesight.” The 24-frame tale explores birth, love, procreation, and death.