Robot 6

What should we call ‘Infinite Canvas’-style comics?


From Scott McCloud’s ‘Reinventing Comics’

ROBOT 6’s Corey Blake wrote a great piece last month on the evolution of digital comics and the innovations that make them more than just electronic copies of print comics. Without repeating what he said, those innovations raise a couple of questions that are also worth talking about: What are we going to call this new format and does it even need a separate name?

Gabriel Hardman (Star Wars: LegacyKinski) recently asked on Twitter, “Is there an accepted name for the Thrillbent/Infinite style of digital comics?” Even filtering out all the joke responses (my favorite is Dennis Culver’s “Labor Intensive”), the answer seems to be no.

A couple of folks note that Scott McCloud’s Infinite Canvas (or, alternatively, Expanded Canvas) is a common term, but Hardman observes that it could be seen as pretentious, which might keep it from catching on. I like the idea of letting McCloud name it — he more or less came up with the idea — but it does remind me of how it sounded when comics fans all started referring to the medium as “sequential art.” It’s a great term for talking about comics academically, but not so good for popular use.

Kevin Mellon (Suicide Sistersasks the question, though: Do we even need a separate term for these comics just because their pages are turned differently? What he seems to be getting at with that is, does the general public even care or are these all just comics? It’s a good question, because it helps to clarify the value of these kinds of labels. It doesn’t have to be as high-minded a goal as educating the public about the various formats of comics that are available. As Hardman explains, it can be a simple descriptor like “black-and-white” or “color.” It’s just nice to have a common term that everyone immediately recognizes and knows what it means.

So, what then for these kinds of comics? Suggestions include veer comics, digital widescreen, unbound, semi-animated digital, dashboard style, and progressive. This is obviously far from decided, so I’m interested in hearing other ideas in the comments below.



Most of the reading public barely differentiates between Peanuts and Suicide Squad when using the term “comic”. Any name these are given or adopt will ultimately only be “inside baseball” or academic at best, which is not a bad thing since the people using them will be the ones who are actually playing baseball. The question of if the term is needed seems to give people who aren’t reading comics anyways too much credit in the discussion of it.

I remember the big stink calling monthly books “floppies” caused, but I felt like it was a good/fair term for how the market had begun to change to tpb/hardcover and digital, and still use it occasionally when talking with comic friends, and they all know what it refers to.

I read comics from Atomic Robo to Zits, though the only “digital-first/only” comics I read regularly are “Adventures of Superman” and “Insufferable.” Digital, singles, trades, OGNs, strips – they’re all just “comics” to me.

Of course, I’m probably a bad example, since I also tend to refer to all my audio drama series as “Old Time Radio shows,” regardless of when they were produced.

Even though it’s using Marvel’s branding, I think I like “infinite comics” the most so far.

Another thought that I’m liking even more: Balak comics – named after the guy who really kicked this whole form off.

Over at Ontonauts HQ ( we use the term Dynamic Canvas to describe the type of comic we create. The style is strongly inspired by the Thrillbent type comics – adding a more cinematic approach while never leaving the core philosophy of letting the user control the progress and timing.

I printed my own comic—CALENDAR KOMIX ANTHOLOGY with the bottom is right and the top is left orientation (I hate calling it landscape-because it’s not) full of dark humor as an home to SUNDAY FUNNY PAPERS-ala Prince Valiant, TARZAN. Calendar seemed a much better term because in reading my book– one has to read it like a calendar. An infinite canvas is such that has no bounds– the page can stretch and bend to a non-comformists whims and out of bounds of what one sees on the screen but is Scrolling view away. To pigeon hole an unlimited aspect is a sorry attempt to withhold possibilities……

I’m not entirely sure what ‘Veer Comics’ means, but I like the sound of it. My comic got picked up by thrillbent, but even before then I always described it to people as a Digital Comic… which of course, means nothing whatsoever.

‘Though if we really wanted a bigger audience we would stop fluffing around and just call our comics ‘Walking Dead’ – apparently that does alright for itself.

Why are they considered infinite? There’s nothing infinite about them.

All you’re doing is splitting the different page elements into separate pages, which spring into life with your touch. They remind me of those kids books, where if you flick through the pages fast, what looks like one still drawing on each page actually starts moving.

The only sound use of this format I’ve seen so far is Batman 66 (DC’s latest digital weekly).

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