How to Do a Comic Wrong

Messing stuff up is delightful – plus, some Wrong-ness guidelines

First, let me share a super fun video with you, so you know what the heck I am gonna be making. This is Jason Shiga teaching us how to make a little interactive comic out of a sheet of paper:

In the post Bad Art I talk about how we define Bad, and who decides, and how murky that is. I’d say the same is true, a lot of the time, with doing something Wrong.

Now that we’ve covered that, what does it look like to do this Wrong?

Why do something Wrong? What does that mean? And who decides what is Right or Wrong? Well, before we proceed, I would offer just a few guidelines:

  • Be kind
  • Be curious
  • Be safe

Those are my Wrong-ness guidelines.

To be honest, the first interactive comic was one I kind of did Right. At least I tried to, there were mistakes, but I got the overall idea. I called it “What is Sloth Thinking?” And since Sloth is often thinking more than one thing/not totally making sense, this seemed like a good subject.

I gave the reader the choice to decide if Sloth was considering the Sun, or the Moon. Simple enough.

First up, Sloth thinking about the Sun. And two ways Sloth might feel, happy or sad. Again, seems like a pretty tidy set of choices.

Sloth being happy about the Sun ended this way, with a nice little moment.

If you picked sad, things were a little more poignant. But still, pretty straightforward.

On the Moon side, Sloth is considering how the Moon has parts of Earth in it. And how Sloth might feel about that. Also a pretty simple choice, delighted or nervous. Two states of Sloth.

If Sloth is delighted, then it is about how Earth and the Moon are related, and how nice that is.

On the other hand, in typical Sloth fashion, there is of course something to be worried about. So that’s the other choice in the story.

That went pretty well! It came together and Sloth had a lot of thoughts.

Now I had some paper bits left over, so that seemed like a good opportunity to do this Wrong.

I had this leftover strip so I folded it three ways.

Then I made a front called “Make a Fish” with a choice for Big fish or Small fish. That was the choice you got. It was just a little strip of paper after all.

If you chose the Big fish, you got a big fellow in a convertible.

For the Small fish choice, you also get to go to space. Bonus!

That was fun messing with the choices and adding whatever came to mind. Could I do this possibly somewhat Wrong-er? I started over with a legit format like the one at the top.

I thought it might be interesting to use the choices to make something as opposed to go through a story, so I started with a Handy Bug Maker

Started with a bug head, since that seemed like a place to start. And a pretty normal looking choice, whether or not your bug is gong to be flying, or crawling.

If you pick flying bug, you get a fellow with aviator goggles on, perhaps not what one would expect. And now another choice, long legged or hairy. Definitely well-known aspects of bugs.

Long legged bug has a problem since how will they get in an airplane with all those legs? Fortunately using a balloon instead fits the bill.

Hairy bug of course has glorious long locks that flow in a glamorous way as they fly away in the aeroplane.

The crawling bug wants some speed so we are going to give them a skateboard, and now the question is, can they use it?

Crawling bug who is good at skateboarding goes all over the darn place, and then also goes surfing because why not

And finally, maybe if you’re not that into skateboarding you use it for something else, like eating a sandwich or taking a nap.

I’d say those results were Wrong-ish. I didn’t totally destroy the format, but I didn’t take it too seriously, either. I suppose I could have put nonsense words in there, or turned the bug into a cat, or just made shapes. That would all have been nice, too.

Being Wrong, or even Wrong-ish, is so worth your while (as long as you are kind, curious, and safe). It can unmask unwritten rules we follow sometimes simply because “that is how it is done.”

Sometimes people react badly or weirdly when they think something is Wrong. Why is that? Does it feel awkward? Is it surprising? Does it break some unwritten social rule?

I hope you take a moment to make a comic, or a drawing, in whatever way you want, and maybe that way is Right for you, and maybe it gives you Big Ideas or just makes you Smile.

Thanks for reading!