Explanation for the J Letterbook in Flash by Laurie Taylor

See the Flash animation here.

First, a note on Copyright

My files are all copyleft, not copyright, unless otherwise noted. Copyleft is an alternative to copyright and was developed so everyone who wanted to could share information without penalty. Here's how it works:
Let's say I make some great program and then copyright it. That means no one can use it without my permission or work on it. If I developed a program and I want it to improve, this stinks. So, let's say I don't copyright it and someone comes along and makes minor changes and then that person copyrights it. Well, then we have a legal battle and nothing improves and I may or may not win, this stinks. With copyleft, I can say that this is mine and everyone can use it, but anyone who uses it can't copyright the altered version. So, if someone makes LaurieCoolProgram Version 2 from mye Version 1 copyleft, then Version 2 is still Copyleft and Version 1 is also still free to be used. This is really pivotal for programming languages and information to improve - think of the human genome project. Some companies are copyrighting the sequences they find that will be used to treat genetic disorders - but the US and other world governments dumped billions of dollars into the Human Genome Project to get the raw data that was used by companies to then find the certain sequences that they copyrighted. Copyright laws must change because they barely worked 10 years ago and too much has changed without the laws even being able to comprehend. So, I'm going to fight for this even with my silly little Flash project that most likely no one would want and my course syllabi and such. If by chance anyone does use this or have comments on it, then I'd love an email (ltaylor@nwe.ufl.edu), but nothing's required.

Explanation of Letterbook

The J Letterbook begins in the same manner of traditional letterbooks by starting first with the letter and then stating the letter 'is for.' This traditional design allows for a multiple response to the meaning of the letter, as this letterbook attempts to do.

The next page attempts to put the J in context with its surroundings by showing the J shape as created by the shapes on the page. With this, the shapes on the left can be clicked to start the longer portion of the animation and the shapes on the right can be clicked to begin the shorter version of the animation. From this page two alternatives are thus available, but the first option will lead to the second so this description will continue as if the first option is selected.

The next page starts with text from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There page 73-74. The text fades and is replaced by subsequent text that shows how Carroll's phrasing is a pun on the history of the letter J and its creation from the letter I.

The text fades in and out to explain the pun and then a jar fades in with blue and red pills with Js and Is on each, respectively. Any of the pills can be clicked on to further the animation. Once clicked, any of the pills or letters lead to the same next stage - they all lead to the same next frame to show how both were initially used interchangeably. The next stage shows a large letter J spiralling in and shrinking into a large spiral. This is to show the confusing history of J and is used for the aesthetic value of spirals. The next frame is an image of the Cheshire Cat from CITE and the image fades as a letter J replaces the tail. The tail/J must then be clicked to further the animation.

The next image is my favorite, and this is linked from the right shape from the third major frame. This is of an umbrella with a citscape inside it and letter Js raining all over it. The cityscape within the umbrella is taken from the Mission Hill website (http://www.msnhill.com/wallpaper/city-at-night-1024.jpeg) and then pieces of that image are moved around, reflected, and colored in to form the city within the umbrella. In this stage, the two lit windows can be clicked and nothing else.

This page leads to a closeup of the window with the windowpane yellow and a red curtain. These colors are meant to highlight the religious significance of J and its use in specifically Christian mythos. With this, the windowpane has a cross shape in the center and is yellow-gold in color, often also used in Christian iconology, and the curtain is red, often used as a royalty reference and as a blood reference to show the blood and humanity of Christ on the cross. This may seem an odd place for such references, but these are part of Js history and they do not particularly fit with the rest of Js history and use.

To show the odd facets of J, the next page shows the playful nature of J as J is the only letter that opens only to the left (S and Z also open to the left, but in a balanced manner). The next page is inside the room, which has a door, a television and joystick, a pack of cards, and some jacks. On this page each of the toys can be played with and will perform a short animation that leads back to the room.

The Toys:
The toy sections can be played in any order, or skipped. The cards show cards and then close in on the jack and then the jack rotates about while transforming and it then returns to the main screen. The jacks just rotate and transform about for a bit. Both of these animations are meant to be cartoony and simple. The TV/joystick opens an imbedded Quicktime video with sound of Super Mario Sunshine for the Gamecube. This particular sequence is from Gamespot (http://www.gamespot.com) and shows Mario getting another Shine. I chose this game because it is so very different from the simple cartoony feel of the rest of my Flash sequence because, while it is very simple and cartoony, it's also incredibly complex and I think a lot of people miss the difference between clarity and simplicity. While Super Mario Sunshine is clear, it's still far from simple. I think the contrast between my simple Flash animation and the complexity of Super Mario Sunshine provides a neat foil and it definitely adds force to the video game as an important impetus to J. With J as a fun letter and my ideas on fun, I think this works really well. Also, please note the wonderful music that Mario has bundled with him from the game.

Once the user is done with playing with the toys, the door can be clicked to further the linear animation. The door then leads to a frame of the door slowly opening. This is a Resident Evil reference because in RE all of the doors open slowly and this movement has become a common trope of survival horror games.

Right before the next page, the outline of the doorway turns yellow and this is for continuity with the next page. The next page is the Cheshire Cat from before, but this time the eyes are yellow (like the doorway) and the tail becomes a J and then slides under the cat eyes as the background image fades away. The cat eyes then blink and the image of a lowercase J remains, complete with the jot (the line or main letter structure) and the tittle (the dot above the J, which is also above the I).

This page then also blinks away and the next page comes up. The next page has a bunch of different Js in the background and they all seem to be swimming about - on a closer look, there is a very large image of a J in the foreground that the small Js disappear beneath as they move. The almost silent J in this frame is to again show the significance of the space around the letter as J would not have existed had it not been for the needs of print, so J is first created and defined within its written space.

The final frame is much like the beginning in that it states "J is for..." But, here the J is the only image that can be clicked and it opens a Google search page with the fields J and alphabet inserted. In this way, the animation ends with more on J and with a sense that this story is incomplete. It also questions how J, letters, and lettering will be questioned and changed in the digital era.

See the Flash animation here.

Works Cited/Used

Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. New York; Grosset & Dunlap, n.d.

Mission Hill. From Mission Hill Website: http://www.msnhill.com/wallpaper/city-at-night-1024.jpeg

Nintendo. Super Mario Sunshine. Redmond, WA; Nintendo of America, 2002. Video from Gamespot: http://www.gamespot.com