Panel Junction combines the graphic novel with forms of shared authorship that have been a mainstay in my earlier work. It merges spontaneous drawing with scripting and direction from online visitors. Participants from around the world will contribute dialog, graphics, caricatures, fonts, narrative ideas, internal monologues, jokes, backgrounds, puns, story-boards, coloring, anecdotes, and sketches. Modeled after the multi-user content management systems used in massively collaborative software development projects, Panel Junction will include narrative "road maps" and different versions of work in progress that range from sketches to refined, high-resolution graphics. The Adobe PDF format will be used for the final version of the ten page graphic novel, which everyone will be able to download and print.
Interactive tools will be integrated into a website dedicated to organizing the collaboration. However there is no purist agenda with regard to the graphical user interface. To facilitate the communicative process participants will be invited to use digital cameras, color laser printers, scanners, mail, voice over IP (Skype), file uploading, and email. Work-in-progress sketches will enable people to see the latest state of the panel in progress.
After an initial period of website development, the production process will be steady. This will encourage serial readership as well as periodic creative participation. During the summer months of production, there will be a cyclical 48 hour time-frame for proposals, contributions, and discussion pertaining to the next panel. This timing element resembles gaming; but the purpose is quite different, since it is a graphical and conceptual product rather than victory that is at stake.
My title will be the "maintainer" of this project, echoing open source terminology. Like any maintainer of a collaborative software project, I will attempt to sustain a productive relationship with contributors, respecting their suggestions and so forth. Rather than try to extricate myself from the daily process of graphical production, as has been my goal in several past projects, I will be taking a more central role in coordinating the visual and narrative dimensions of Panel Junction. If somebody does not like my driving, the option will exist to "fork." All the necessary data and tools will be made available (creative commons) so that the project can be cloned if someone feels like taking the accumulated material in another direction.
Exactly what themes Panel Junction will address is unclear. In the past I have worked with other artists on comics, passing drawings from artist to artist with each person contributing to the development of the story. I've found this to be a rewarding and spontaneous practice, and I'd like to reproduce the experience as Net Art. I draw inspiration from various sources. From Thackeray and the exquisite corpse. From William Kentridge and Tim Biskup. From Julie Doucet and Philip Guston. From Jim Woodring and Henning Wagenbreth. But the more immediate inspiration in this context is from people like Neil, Eileen, Edwin, Nick, and Fred, who have made contributions to the project during its development.