In September 2007, I attended the opening reception for Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics, an exhibition at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA), where I met comics theorist Scott McCloud as well as many webcomics creators.
One of the natural topics of discussion was the merits of webcomics compared to printed comics. A commonly voiced view that night seemed to be something along the lines of “webcomics are the future because anything printed comics can do, webcomics can do better.”
Since I often enjoy playing “devil’s advocate” in debates, I was among those who – although our very presence at that night’s reception made us obvious supporters of the webcomics movement – contrarily maintained there were still many things that print comics could do that webcomics could not. Our strongest argument in favor of printed comics was that they offered readers a physical/kinesthetic experience that webcomics could never duplicate; readers could bend, fold, tear or otherwise manipulate the comic in ways that are impossible to duplicate onscreen.
At some point, it occurred to me that one could use origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, to create a comic in which the reader’s physical interaction with the comic as a tangible three-dimensional object was essential to the experience and, therefore, impossible to do as a webcomic.
When I returned home, I decided to put theory into practice and the result was Pandora’s Box, a comic which readers must open and unfold (and, ideally, refold) as part of the reading experience. Crucially, the box is to be opened at precisely that point in the story when such an action is loaded with the greatest significance.
I debuted Pandora’s Box to a warm reception at the 2008 MoCCA Art Festival and have since gone on to create several other Origami Comics: Schrodinger’s Cat; Flexagon!; 2d4; Unsung; and Tamatebako.