Correction: I made a (totally awesome, btw) video, uploaded it on Flickr, and then two days later discovered that Flickr limits videos to 90 seconds. Well obviously I didn’t contain my admiration for Knite to a measly minute and a half. So I am looking into other venues, but I can’t make any promises about when the full video will be available.
Here is an almost-perfect transcription of the video.
I discovered Knite, a Flash comic by `yuumei in late December 2012 and it just took my breath away.
First, I’m going to talk about Flash comics, which are made using the animation software Adobe Flash (when I learned it, it was still Macromedia Flash). I’d love to know what Scott McCloud thinks about them. Are they actually comics? Do they occupy some odd middle space between illustrated books, comics, and film? On the “yes they are comics” side, they do present panels in a sequence to tell a story. On the “hell no they are not comics” side, you don’t actually see the panels together on the page, and there’s no physical space between the panels. However, there is a temporal space between them in the moment you press the “next” button, which does give you time to fill in what happens between the panels. And Flash comics definitely aren’t film or animation, because they aren’t in constant motion.
So, obviously Knite has made me really interested in Flash comics. What appeals to me the most is that – and this is what `yuumei does so well – you have one panel to work with at a time. You compose that panel by itself as an independent artwork and you don’t have to worry about its placement on the page, because it is the page. I guess it’s a lot like a storyboard in that way. You can also make draw visual parallels by placing characters (or whatever) in exactly the same place in more than one panel, which works very well for flashbacks.
Back to Knite, the art is just – wow. Every panel is amazing. I’m really impressed with the circular ground-line she uses when the characters are on a rooftop – it gives a sense of great height. And the lights, the use of gold and red at night, and the angles… fantastic. `yuumei would make a great director.
Character-wise, I think it’s pretty easy to see that Sen is The Quiet One and Kai is The Outgoing One, but it’s interesting that Sen is the idealist. Usually The Quiet One is also The Depressed Because Nothing Ever Changes One, but here, Sen’s got this tiny, bright hope and this uncertain, but fighting spirit. The two characters also illustrate the difficult relationship between idealism and practicality. You can’t decide which one is right. I think that really speaks to how impossible it is – or, more optimistically, how impossible it seems – to solve such immense problems.
Story-wise, Knite has a strong environmental message. When `yuumei visited Beijing, she was dumbfounded by the pollution. One night, she saw flying kites in the sky with lights strung on the tails; it’s just a past-time for older people there, but `yuumei thought the lights looked like stars. The characters in her comic fly their lit kites to put stars back in the sky, a small but powerful symbol of hope and resistance.
So go read this comic right now! `yuumei has promised it will be eight chapters long and I can’t wait!