Meanwhile — 3,856 stories
“Meanwhile” begins as our young hero in dire need of a bathroom, knocks on the door of a mysterious recluse. His mansion is in fact a wonderous laboratory filled with amazing inventions: A mind reading helmet, a doomsday device and a time travel machine (although it can only go back ten minutes).
Which invention will young Jimmy play with? YOU, the reader get to decide in my branchiest and most complex interactive comic to date. “Meanwhile” works via a network of tubes connecting each panel to the next. Sometimes these tubes split in two giving the readers a choice of which path they would like to follow. Sometimes these tubes even lead off the page and onto tabs sticking out from other parts of the book.
Head over to Origami Yoda to read an interview with Jason;
Q: Can you explain how Meanwhile works? Nearly 4,000 possible story combinations? I can’t wait!
A: Meanwhile works via a series of tubes that connect each panel to the next one in sequence. Sometimes the tubes lead right off the page and onto a tab on another page. Sometimes the tubes branch off and the reader can choose which direction they want the story to unfold. It sounds complicated but once you hold the book in your hands, it makes more sense.
The figure of 3,856 possible story combinations is a bit of an underestimation. The figure didn’t include storylines where you enter the incorrect code, or storylines that end in an infinite loop. There’s literally an infinite number of story combinations if you include storylines that have repeating panels.
Then immediately head over to ComicBookResources to read up further on the book;
Branching stories can be more difficult to write than their linear counterparts, and the physical design of “Meanwhile” also plays a role in how the story is perceived. “One of the most challenging parts of creating a branching story is managing the tradeoff between giving the reader lots of choices and restricting the exponential growth that follows from all those choices,” Shiga said. “One problem I had with Choose Your Own Adventure was that the stories were typically very short. Fighting Fantasy had longer narratives, but the tradeoff was that they tended to be more linear. Two books that really combined the best of both strategies was ‘House of Hades’ by Steve Jackson and ‘Escape from Tenopia’ by Edward Packard. Both of them presented a geographic area that the reader could explore in their own way. I almost see those books as being closer to the parks of Fredrick Law Olmstead than to any other authors.”
And if that wasn’t enough for you, an endorsement from Scott McCloud should tip the scales a touch.