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Transcription difficulties.

I am transcribing Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan episodes from early 2004 for the Oh No Robot comics transcription database. It turns out that these particular comics with their interlocking panel layouts and multiple conversation threads are very difficult to transcribe properly. Conventional divisions between panels in ONR are rendered simply by two carriage returns in the transcription. But on many of the comics from late 2004 to early 2004, these divisions broke down or were ignored by the dialogue. Here's a transcription for the comic page for February 2, 2004:

[[Ottar's flashback. Ottar and Abúi are running along a tree branch. Abúi is holding a book in her arms - the Wythllewe Boke.]]

[[Arthur's flashback. Arthur is talking to the older raven.]]
Arthur: We need more numbers!

Elder Raven: More numbers?
Arthur: Yeah. If we had a number meaning "Many-and-one", we could count to Many-and-one. Maybe even beyond!

[[Jake's flashback. Jake is drinking ale with Tamlin.]]
Tamlin: Whoa there buddy! You're going fast tonight.
Jake: It's that tree, Tamlin. It gives me the willies.

[[Arthur's flashback. The Elder Raven's dialogue is half-hidden. The ravens are positioned on a tree branch so it looks like they're on the same branch as Ottar and Abúi in their flashback, and Arthur appears to be looking down at Norla in her flashback.]]
Elder raven: Fledg There's no/left for/teach you, save this: never let on that you're smart/than a mon-
[[Ottar's flashback. Ottar and Abúi are reading the book.]]
[[Norla's flasback. Norla is reading a book. P'Séaigg is talking to her.]]
P'Séaigg: Are you ever going to tear yourself away from those books?
[[The flashbacks are interrupted by Atra's cackling loudly in the present time.]]
Atra: Haaa-ha ha ha!

And that's not nearly the most complex layout in the sequence.

On the one hand, I could use some help. But I can see why readers aren't exactly lining up to help with the transcription and I can't blame them. There are many opportunities to go wrong with these. The placement of the final word balloon in the flashback is particularly awkward although it does read correctly - or rather, it doesn't matter much if it isn't read fully until after the interruption is taken in; the visual interpretation of the sequence works. In the transcription, a judgment call has to be made to place it unambiguously before the interruption.

I have asked the ONR people for more ways to indicate panel and word balloon flow. I'm not sure if they'll be able to invent any that will work with some of the things I've done in that particular sequence of comics. Which in a way is gratifying.


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