Length: About 5 minutes
Devices: iPhone / iPad
Electric Literature’s True Legends is a mesmerizing short fiction app for iOS. Its animation-heavy presentation, while being short on length, is nevertheless a successful experiment in exploring how text, music, and user interaction can mesh with artwork effectively.
The story, a flash fiction written by Alex Epstein, is a whimsical piece about a blind piano tuner. The artwork’s diverse color palette adds to the whimsy; together with the music, you get the sense that this story could have been a funny, old world anecdote passed along by a grandmother.
To move through the app, the user pinches two fingers to trigger some clever animations, creating the illusion of moving into the piano tuner’s head. Interestingly, the text is incorporated directly into the artwork, which makes the reading experience feel entirely natural.
The fact that the animation proceeds at the reader’s pace is a strong design decision. When dealing with multimedia texts, it can be difficult to incorporate artwork in a way that doesn’t feel distracting while taking full advantage of the digital format. True Legends nails this balance perfectly.
To contrast this with some other pieces, the visual space here differs from the space in say, a more graphic-novel focused approach like in that of The Boat. The effect this has on the reader is one of total immersion into the world, rather than perceiving it through the frames of sequential art; it’s refreshing to see a piece circumvent the graphic novel formula.
The piece is, to my knowledge as of this writing, the only multimedia app published by Electric Literature. It would be exciting to see more projects by them in this vein, especially if they’re of the same quality as True Legends.
Follow writer Alex Epstein at his link here.
Also check out Tsach Weinberg (he’s the one who did the artwork, animation, and code)
Last but not least, the music was done by Ulrich Ziegler.