One of my favorite webcomics is Raynato Castro and Alex Culang's Buttersafe, which is the gag-a-day strip equivalent of a ball fake, setting you up for something particular seeming and then tearing down your expectations in a deadpan, often brutally sad, way. Last Thursday's strip, "Eye Infection," is an excellent example of this kind of style, except that the usual premise has several layers, going from quotidian to terrifying and back to quotidian again. The design of "Eye Infection" is extraordinarily unusual, a sort of cascade of panels that moves both from left to right and right to left, using what would otherwise be an excessive amount of negative space to guide the reader through, teaching them how to read the comic and setting up expectations for the rest of the strip.

This being Buttersafe, though, those expectations are upended rather quickly. As you continue to scroll, something kind of wild happens:

That little rectangle of black just peaking through the screenshot ominously grows block by block, filling in the negative space, building on the initial sense of dread created by something filling that space where nothing is expected, until the bleak future revealed by the oracular infection is revealed. Taken in simple terms of artistry, this is A+ work, but I also think it's worth mentioning that a strip like "Eye Infection" only really works on a computer-- although scrolling mimics on the page reading, it also obscures certain elements in a way that you can't hide what's on a single page. On paper, the surplus of negative space in combination with the big image at the bottom would draw the eye toward the reveal, rather than toward the top left hand corner of the page, and placing it on a second page would screw with the effect. The difference is small, but significant; the constraints of a computer screen are much different than the constraints of a physical format. Digital comics and real world ones are similar, but not the same.