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Rachael Zimmerman
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With the birth of Electronic literature more writers seem to be using new mediums to write. In these new mediums creativity seems to flow more easily than contemporary writing with pen and paper. Brainstrips by Alan Bigelow is most similar to a modern aged comic strip. The comic strip incorporates interactive motion graphics, hypertext, comedy, expressive processing, new media textuality, comic art, and sound in order to create an interactive game-like way of reading. When the program first begins text is used to ask the reader if the computer’s sounds is on. In which case the reader turns on the sound, or makes sure it is on. Next a hyperlink appears that reads, “begin”. The reader then starts on the full experience of Brainstirps. The next page consists of the name of the program. Once the mouse runs across “strip” it turns red and allows the user to know that it is a hyperlink.
Before the “electronic comic strip” begins this new medium within electronic literature has interacted with the audience in two ways. The first way is by telling the user to turn on the computer sound because obviously the program has incorporated sound. The second is by making the user search for what to do next.
Once the audience enters the first of three sections of the comic strip, a page similar to a home page appears. The home page incorporates sounds and images that look like the original graphics in a comic strip. This element allows for the audience to feel comfortable with the new medium because the images are very similar to an original comic.
The home page has six philosophical questions on the bottom left. If a mouse is run across any of the questions it turns red and again allows the user to see it is a hyperlink. Each hyperlink leads to a mini comic or narrative that reveals a story that relates back to the philosophical question. The hyperlink allows for the user to feel more apart of the electronic comic strip.
The reason the comic is unlike a comic in a book or magazine is because the blurbs in which the text is written moves and pops out at the reader. The comic also has sound which adds another element to the overall message of the narrative. After the reader has read the comic he or she can hit the back button at which point the main page pops out and moves. When the home page has reached a complete stop the user has the choice to read the next comic or choose to read the comics out of order depending on the interest level of each question. The reader also the ability to walk away from the comic strip and come back to it later.
“Does God exist” one of the six philosophical questions incorporates images of men shooting each other. The same sound repeats over and over until the user has finished reading the comic. The sound matches the fire looking image that is shot out of three guns within the strip. The text within the comic uses irony to create humor for the reader. Political issues are addressed and are made fun of throughout each narrative.
After the user reads all six comics the home page changes. Instead of the six philosophical questions as hyperlinks, there is a hyperlink called “Special Advertisement Section”. The only way to continue Brainstrips is to click this hyperlink. Once clicked the hyperlink a page appears. This creates an interactive feeling for the user. The “Special Advertisement Section” incorporates a sense of comedy, in which the author is making fun of modern day society.
In bold red the title reads, “Invent Your Own Philosophy!” The title grabs the reader’s attention as it is in bold red. The background is yellow, which makes the title pop out at the user. One the right side of the page there is a giant red button, similar to an old arcade button. Before the user looks at all the other elements on the page it is obvious the next step is to click or “push” the red button. The text on this page also uses irony to create an environment in which the user is urged to believe he or she is in control. It is obvious that the user has no control of changing or having a say in the overall message of the comic.
The sound on this page is soothing, and similar to elevator music. The audio creates a relaxing environment in which the user may feel comfortable to continue while at the same time understand the irony within the page.
After clicking the red button the screen flashes “Thank You”, and continues back to the start. However, the start no longer contains “strips” all that is left if “Brain” and an “s”. “Brain” is now the net hypertext for the user to click. This hypertext is the second part of the three parts in which the comic strips are organized. The page title is “Science for Idiots”, different topics are scattered throughout this page (similar to a homepage). The user picks the topic most interested in and again is taken to a comic strip. These strips are different for the first section in the sense that they are much longer. Arrows can be used to go forward and backwards, this stimulates a comic book or magazine, as the user must “turn the page”. The text within the comic follows a witty theme in which all the topics are being made fun of. Once the comic is over it takes the user back to the homepage. Five more topics are hyperlinks to other comic strips. Once the user has read all six comic strips the homepage changes daring for the user to take a quiz. The hyperlink is flashing, “Want pain click here”. No matter how the user answers the quiz questions after the last question text pops out at the user. The text are phrases or words telling the user he is she is stupid.
This leads to part three of Brainstrips. This section is not science or philosophy like the first two sections; instead the third section is math. Once again there are six hypertexts that lead to different comic strips. The user has the choice to pick the order of the comics. After all six electronic comics are read the user is forced to take yet another quiz. The quiz questions the users ethics and morals. Depending on how the user rates himself he will receive results that tell him how to become a better person.
Each comic strip (18 in total) address political issues. The issues are addressed in such a way that the user (no matter his or her viewpoint) is forced to critically analysis the political issues based on how Bigelow portrays them.