26 May 2009

Fleep Fleep

A long while back, Publishers Weekly ran a rather extraordinary interview with Jason Shiga, library employee and cartoonist. His most recent milestone then seemed to be an Ignatz nomination for Bookhunter, a "library crime procedural."

Shiga told the magazine:

I get pegged as the math cartoonist, but to be honest, I don’t think there’s anything in Fleep that someone who’s passed all their math courses in high school couldn’t figure out. Certainly nothing past freshman calculus anyway. Maybe a little group theory and combinatorial analysis. But mostly my comics are just extremely rigorous and analytical. Also, there’s a little graph theory in my last two comics.
You know, Mr. Shiga--I think that makes you a math cartoonist.

Shiga's Fleep is an episodic comic about a fellow trapped inside a phone booth, applying logic to each decision point--without, however, getting any closer to the outside.

Shiga also has comics whose narratives are variable, based on reader choices. He told PW:
I’ve always loved Choose Your Own Adventure books since I was a child. I think part of the allure of the genre is that as a child, you don’t get to make any choices in your life. As an adult, however, one aspect I really love is the idea of collaborating on a story with the writer. I like to use my imagination when I’m reading and I’ve noticed that seems to be the direction a lot of narrative is heading. . . .

I only sell [those comics] at conventions. They’re basically too heavy, and I get killed in the shipping. Hello World is the world’s first programmable comic. The story centers around a mother who gets to pack items into her children’s lunchboxes. The children pull out the items that can cause other items to go in or remaining items to get switched around in various ways. So essentially, the comic works as a very basic three-line stack program.
Okay, remember what I was saying about "math cartoonist"?
Knock Knock is another choose your own adventure comic except instead of two or three choices, the reader gets to choose from over a dozen choices at each node. The only thing is, after the reader makes three choices, a crazed gunman bursts through the door and shoots you. There are over 250 ways to die and only one way to survive. The reader must in his three moves pick up enough clues about his identity, the identity of the killer and why he wants to kill him to formulate some sort of survival strategy.
Figuring out the reasoning of a "crazed killer." Perhaps there are some things beyond logical analysis.


Elizabeth said...

Okay, that denial of being a "math cartoonist" (and subsequent examples) is one of the most hilarious cases of lack of self-awareness I have ever seen.

And also, I really, really want the math comics.

J. L. Bell said...

I think Jason Shiga should get together with Lerner's Graphic Universe imprint. It has a line called "Twisted Journeys" that works like the Choose Your Own Adventure books, and Editorial Director Carol Burrell told Publishers Weekly that she "is looking to do new comics projects on math."