Devices: Optimized for desktop but mobile-compatible (use landscape mode; audio doesn’t work)
Length: 30 minutes or less
I stumbled on a multimedia gem the other day. Called The Boat, it’s an online graphic novel adaptation of The Boat by Nam Le. Cleverly designed and complete with audio and animation, it delivers a powerful message about the Vietnam War. It’s also free.
The project is mesmerizing. Right from the opening screen, the smoothness of the animation and quality of the sound is striking. How did they get those rain droplets to work, anyway?
The project has a strong sense of environment and transports us to distinct locations, each with a different look and feel: a boat at sea, the main character’s childhood home, a bustling city, a river in the middle of the night, and others.
Not only that, the drama is compelling and well worth the read.
The Boat is already a praised collection of short stories. The graphic novel takes after the book’s title work and uses about a third of the text; while I haven’t read the original, the prose present indicates it’d likely be a good read.
It was no trivial amount of effort to put this together: there are 300 illustrations, 59 of them animated. I found myself incredibly excited to learn more about the artist, Matt Huynh, and his other work, which apparently includes a few other digital graphic novels.
Some other notes: The project is built in HTML5, the sound doesn’t work in mobile devices, and it was produced by the Special Broadcasting Station (SBS), a national public broadcasting station based in Australia, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Definitely check this out and share the love — The Boat has plenty of shares, but the project is cool enough that everyone interested in multimedia should know about it.
P.S. When can National Public Radio (NPR) start making some multimedia graphic novels?