August 02, 2013 3:12pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Boulet's 'Long Journey' Fulfills the Infinite Canvas Promise
The "Infinite Canvas" is a concept put forward years ago by comic creator -- and writer and artist of Understanding Comics -- Scott McCloud, in which he suggests that comics that appear online have far more freedom than those in print because of the different ways a story can progress given the space available on the Internet.
Trying to explain it in words can be tricky, but luckily Boulet -- the pen name for French cartoonist Gilles Roussel -- has provided an amazing example of what McCloud was talking about in the shape of a comic called The Long Journey.
The plot of Journey is fairly simple: A bored man -- Boulet himself -- searches for something new and ends up venturing, at first, into the sewers and then far, far beyond in the name of novelty and excitement. But what makes it so impressive is the execution of the strip. For one thing, it's all one continuous image, which the reader scrolls down as Boulet travels farther, which gives the reader a sense of empathy with the character as well as an experience of making the same (or, at least, a similar) journey as the fictional Boulet.
There's more to it than just that, though. It's a funny journey, with Boulet's observational humor becoming more surreal as the trip itself gets weirder, yet it never loses touch with the audience entirely. And it's also surprisingly touching as the story nears its conclusion. The Long Journey offers food for thought and something for the heart as well. If you're looking for something to unwind with this weekend that just might hint at still-untapped possibilities for storytelling on the web, you could do a lot worse than to check this out.