This is part 5 of my weekly series on Dave Van Domelen’s Academy of Super-Heroes universe, a collection of musings, interviews, writerly insights and historical notes about the free super-hero serials (which started on the newsgroup rec.arts.comics.creative back in ’94 and recently released as Omnibus editions.)
This week features Dave Van Domelen’s first twelve issues of Academy of Super-Heroes. I’d like to discuss the text comic form in this article.
The text comic is a blend of short story and a comic book. Here are some fun features of the form:
The Cover. A text comic is meant to be the short story equivalent of a paper comic book. In the ASH series this is represented by a text description of a cover in the author’s imagination. Like with an actual comic book, the author is able to tease about the contents, highlight a character or scene from the get-go, or just go wild with description (since it’s highly unlikely that someone will actually draw the fantastic cover you have in your head). It’s also a handy way to indicate what part of a series the story belongs to.
The Roll Call. Specific to the superhero genre, the roll call summarizes the cast of main characters and their status during the issue. In addition to being a handy reference, it allows some fun variations when the mood strikes the author. In ASH in particular, the posting format is 80 character monospace, which allowed Dave to make neat ASCII art. However, when I was converting the issues to ePub format, the lack of monospace font (or rather to accommodate people who set their own fonts) turned out to be the most frustrating, as I had to do away with the ASCII art and change formatting in every issue. For Pandora’s Box I took a screenshot and posted the Roll Call as a picture, but that was time consuming too. I hereby request that Dave simplifies his roll calls for easier ePub conversions in the future 🙂