Never knew the excitement you can receive with reading electronic literature until I entered this class. Hobo Lobo was one of my favorite readings I read thus far and the graphics and movements of the pictures/pages gave me more of an interests. I felt as though this specific literature made it easy to follow and made it more enjoyable for me to read. The images moved long with a text which gave it more of a movie feel for me almost like an illusion, as if everything goes together. Navigating through the pages were simple, however, I didn’t notice that they were other options as far as navigating. As normal I was just pressing the ‘right arrow’ so I can move along in the story and it took me from page to page. However, I did have to catch myself a few times paying attention more to the graphics rather than the actual words.
The color schemes were my favorite part of Hobo Lobo, especially the red one on the 3rd page. The way that some pages didn’t have words made it more appealing as I felt as though I was watching a movie and sort of going along with the pictures rather than the words. Which gave you a chance to appreciate the graphics more than not.
The story itself was interested, the power that Hobo lobo endured reminded me of the big bad wolf, not only because he resembles a wolf but because of how he over used his power once he started getting rid of all the rats. The fact that the town and the mayor loved him I felt as though it made him feel more valuable than anyone else around him in town.
In the spirit of Halloween, I’ve decided to cover the ScareMail Generator: A word generator that processes various words and phrases into an incoherent horror story that tends to be slightly more stupid than scary, likely to be shared by hundreds of clueless aunts and uncles as something genuinely frightening for the sheer horror that such words could be chained together in such a way. But the intent of the ScareMail Generator, is to address a horror that is not just limited to Halloween, but even all year-round.
In recent years, the NSA has taken to identifying certain “keywords” that are supposedly used to detect terrorist communication and behavior. Words like “plot”, “facility”, even “packages” have become no longer considered acceptable in normal written text, but taboo as the name “Voldemort” in the Harry Potter series.
While in theory this is a precautionary measure that can be said to be done for the greater good of protecting the free world in a post 9/11 society, the author describes it as closer to “a governmental surveillance machine run amok, algorithmically collecting and searching our digital communications”. In a present time where our constitutional rights (and more than often the rights themselves) are challenged daily, ScareMail Generator presents itself as a bot with a very important message behind its nonsensical English text: “words do not equal intent”.
The source text for all of the stories is Fahrenheit 451, a personal favorite and a cautionary tale about the degradation of society via modern conveniences and vanity, but also about censorship. This is likely to be intentional, as most other blocks of text could perhaps accomplish the same task; the selected text in this case is done either for a symbolic effect or for the purpose of having a format that resembles a narrative more than anything. The protagonist “Montag” or side character “Clarisse” show up from time to time in with my generated text, a reminder of the source material.
The author, Benjamin Grosser, has a history presenting at events related to countering projects like the NSA’s programs, indeed ScareMail itself had been first revealed at PRISM Breakup in 2013. The fact that the source code and inner workings of ScareMail are freely available to the public further enforce the idea that just like the thing it is working to counter, ScareMail has nothing to hide.
The purpose behind ScareMail is part obstruction, part demonstration, and wholly to ensure that NSA programs like PRISM and XKeyscore don’t really have a clue when it comes to looking up “trigger” words. These programs work off of finding these blacklisted words through loads of read (typically without your permission) emails and building a record off of it. But if the programs are overloaded with junk examples of those words being used, like the types of narratives that ScareMail produces, the programs and their databases become inherently worthless. Freedom of speech has been often contested in the name of preventing terrorism, but ScareMail doesn’t try to convince you that NSA surveillance is in the wrong here; just that their programs are poor implementations in the name of that security.
It seems that Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is the one that I was able to understand the best and the easiest among all the E-lit works we have learned up to now. When comparing with other E-lit that we read or played, Hobo Lobo of Hamelin has a more simple and clear form, which is a webcomic, at least from my perspective. It is talking about and sticking to one story line, which is easy to follow for me.
The story starts with a typical beginning of fairy tale “Once upon a time…”, which makes me feel really familiar and curious soon. The first page of pictures is colored in black, gray, cool-toned yellow and pink, under a gloomy and somber atmosphere. As I clicking on the rest parts of Page 1, all the pictures are colored in the same pattern with the first one, indicating the thread and the mood of the story, which is a dark fairy tale.
Then the main color changes to green as the story turned into Page 2, in which the story is describing the free life of Hobo Lobo. I really enjoyed the slides here, which were so fun and interesting.
Next, the color turned into blue at the first half part of Page3. And the story started to be told in sounds rather than words here.
Followed by the red color in the second half part of Page 3.
I really loved that the color tone of the pictures parallel with the development of story, which helps the readers to understand the story and experience the emotions better and deeper.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin was a story I remember reading when I was a kid and feeling uneasy afterwards. It was my first experience with an unexpected ending to a story. Revisiting that particular story was not something I had considered but the idea of exploring it within the merits of electronic literature made me very intrigued. I wondered about the potential innovative or creative possibilities that could be applied to it by an update in a digital medium. The result is the wonderful digital narration called Hobo Lobo of Hamelin. The story that made me feel tense in its traditional form is now one of my absolute favorites in its digital form.
It is always fascinating to observe reinterpretations of old stories or folktales in modern era. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a great example of mixing the traditional storytelling with modern satire and snark. The author simply describes his work by claiming that “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a thing by a dude, who’s all like, “I’m gonna make a thing.” and I interpret it as “don’t take it too seriously.” Political satire has the potential to upset people with strong and very serious political stance. Literary works such as this requires an open-minded approach to enjoy and examine it properly. The subtle – and often not so subtle – metaphorical imagery used in this story makes it a distinctive work.
The first major change that is noticeable from the original work is the main character, the piper, being a wolf instead of a human. The animal wolf is “a symbol of guardianship, ritual, loyalty, and spirit.” This seems to work more in line with the story’s satirical nature by introducing the character in this manner only to contrast it with the ending. The other obvious changes include modern aesthetics such as the rats being drug addicts and the major being depicted as present day politician who goes on a television program to spread his message. Along with certain details placed in the background of the images, such as the poster with “teamwork: town that prays together, stays together” on page 5, the author manages to offer his commentary on current political and social issues in subtle but arguably appropriate manner. It also proves how timeless the original work is by being very open to interpretation.
It would also be unfair not to mention the gorgeous artwork that is presented along with the story. The still animation of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin obviously resembles the pop-up books designed for younger readers. Their colorful and immersive nature often make them more attractive in comparison to more conventional examples. Some may argue that pop-up effect is a simple gimmick or an illusion that only offers the young reader a distraction. This notion is perfectly captured by the overwhelming size of the artwork over the written section on the page that showcases the concept of distraction and it creates irony. An effect designed for younger readers is used to divert attention from political threads of the story intended for adults. The use of newspaper comic strip drawing style, along with single color appliance over each page, which no doubt represents particular emotion that matches with action represented in the story, is also nothing short of brilliance. Imaginatively constructed shifts and alternations in animation truly captures the mood that the author is attempting to present.
The story examines the concepts of fear-mongering and alternative truths. Its open-ended conclusion, which is no doubt intentional, allows its reader to ponder upon many issues that we face on almost daily basis. Its navigational structure that resembles a newspaper reading is a compliment to its delicate nature. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a great reinterpretation of a classic story that everyone should experience.
Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is an Elit that mixtures several forms. The combination of texts, images, and sounds facilitates its effect on readers. The natigation design is quite understandable for me. There are totally seven pages. Every page has several sections. When read it, you can just go over page by page. Below the texts are animations. The animations are like long stroll painting. You can look through the painting from the left side to the right side when you go over the sections inside pages. Almost all the pages have texts except for two of them. The page three has sound insteand of texts. Listening to the sound, I heard some sharp screams in the silent night. The page seven also has the sound. There was a piece of music played in the background. The tempo was lively but it seems inronic for me.
The webcomic brings me into that situation further. I felt like I fell in to a movie world. I believe that it can give the readers that illusion. The town of Hamelin was once peaceful and picturesque. However, currently it was occupied with turbulent rats, which threaten the election of Mayor of the Fascist-Calvinist coalition government. A talented vagrant – Hobo Lobo, entered the town. He was hired by the mayor to help Hamelin with its rat infestation.
Screenshot of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin (Page1, 4)
The reading experience of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin reminds me of a childhood memory of reading cartoon books. More dynamic, Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a webcomic Elit that includes digital sound, animation, and texts. The story itself is contexualized in a small town, which is a common background setting for most of the fairy tales and fables that I read in early years. When read it, readers will devote their sensory immersion from both auditory and visual perspectives to the story. It was definately a delightful and enjoyable reading experience.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the moment has arrived! The moment I have been waiting for since the very beginning of my E-lit journey. Hobo Lobo has cause my E-lit awakening, and I am SO. VERY. INTRIGUED….and maybe still a little confused (lol).
When I first opened up this reading, I was wary; my E-lit experiences thus far have been overwhelming and underwhelming and honestly, frustrating. But THIS! This was different. Finally, a story that made sense!
In a very, very weird way, the story of Hobo Lobo, reminded me a bit of story books that I read as a kid with my parents. The illustrations caught my attention and made me want to explore more, dive in deeper to this story. It was like reading an adult-version of my favorite childhood pop-up books!
I am not as familiar as everyone else is with all the rhetoric that is involved when discussing E-lit, I am still a newborn in this whole new world of electronic literature.
Seriously though, why can’t every piece of E-lit be SO simply to navigate and follow along with? If you can’t already tell, I am regretting not choosing this for my walk-through. This would’ve been perfect.
I truly enjoyed Hobo Lobo, and I think it will always have a special place in my E-literature journey. It is the first piece of E-lit that I truly connected with. The illustrations, the 3D elements, the music, the dark theme, even the wording, just checked off all the boxes in my mind.
When I was looking for the e-lit piece I wanted to present, I knew I had to pick something creative. Something story-driven and maybe just a bit weird. Don’t get me wrong, all of the pieces in the Electronic Literature Collection are extremely creative. Many are story-driven, as well. And many are so very very weird. But something about Hobo Lobo of Hamelinreally struck me as The One. Maybe it was the story line blending old fable and modern socio-political commentary. Maybe it was the blended setting of Renaissance and 21st century. Maybe it was the really cool color schemes and site design and music and sketchiness and humor and subtle (and not so much) grotesqueness of it all–
Okay, it was a lot of things, so here goes nothing.
Hobo Lobo of Hamelin is a webcomic, a medium I am relatively familiar with, posted from 2011-2014. It is, according to the Hobo Lobo ELC page, “a digital pop-up book about a city, its scruples, some rats, a wolf, his woodwind and the stuff that goes down.” Sounds simple, but it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that. Just one look at the first page gives the reader an expectation of something lighthearted and playful, but… it’s clear by the third “panel” of “page” one–(see: “coked-up rats… freaking everybody out” as citizens of Hamelin try to “get them to fuck off”)–that this story will be a lot more real than originally thought.
There are a few topics I’d like to hit in my exploration of Hobo Lobo, and I’ll put them here in a nice little list so I don’t forget:
Background – programs, author, inspiration, etc.
Story – a simple fable twisted beyond recognition
Themes – the eerie way the tale has aged and “predicted the future”
“More to come…” – ???
Will I be able to cover everything in extensive detail? Probably not. But hey, we’re all friends here. All human. Let’s just go with the flow and maybe we’ll discover some things together.
First, we’ll check out the behind the scenes, or the back end, of the piece, starting with its author.
Stevan Živadinović of San Antonio, Texas, is a graphic designer, artist, video game design teacher at a creative youth development program, creator of “comics and comic-like things,” and overall a pretty rad dude, if his Twitter and Tumblr are anything to go by. (Note: they are; he’s pretty active.)
On the main Hobo Lobo website, Živadinović has linked his professional portfolio page detailing his credentials, projects, areas of expertise, and contact links. It’s an aesthetically pleasing page with charmingly simple (yet still professional) language and a subtle, almost dry humor (see “Marketing that is dead inside,” “I make things special,” etc.) that carries over into Hobo Lobo. There’s also the quirkily “hidden” background/statistics/about/credits page helpfully titled “What is this thing?” It’s kind of like an info-dump on that page. Any questions you want answered (and others you didn’t know you wanted answered) can be found there.
Živadinović linked to a tutorial on building said framework and throwing everything together on that info-dump page I mentioned, for those crazy kids out there who want to make their own side-scrolling web comic. He claims himself that the formatting is “janky as hell” under the Technical Considerations section, but personally I find it adds to the sketchy charm of the piece.
I can’t say I’m well-versed in back end stuff like this–coding and site-building and whatnot–so I’ll cap it off here, but as far as I’ve seen, the amount of work and consideration that went into this multimedia work is incredibly impressive. Feel free to peruse those links I gave. There’s some quirky coding throughout that’s arguably as enjoyable as Hobo Lobo itself.
Ah, one more interesting thing I noticed: Živadinović mentioned some of his influences for Hobo Lobo in his parallax tutorial, one of which was MS Paint Adventures. Color me surprised, as I was neck deep in that fandom several years ago. Turns out you can never really escape Homestuck. Learning this, though, I can see the connections–the dry humor, the deep story hidden by lighthearted visuals, the charming music, the multimedia aspects. Maybe it’s fate I picked this comic, then. Or it’ll go terribly wrong and we’re in a doomed timeline, and–
Let’s move on.
ELC’s editorial statement summed up the story as: “A wolf turned Renaissance journeyman travels to the town of Hamelin where the local mayor refuses to pay him for ridding the town of ‘coked-up rats.'” That’s… honestly exactly what we have.
It’s a liner story, nothing crazy or hard to follow. Despite the multimedia aspects, a majority of the story is told through text. Let’s go with like… 35% text, 55% visual imagery, 15% cool animations, 5% rad tunes.
Those statistics are not real, I’m just conjecturing. Bottom line, there’s a lot of text / visuals.
As for content, Hobo Lobo is a curious blend of old and new–“medieval Pied Piper”/”European folktale” and the modern-day-esque, political and media disaster of a town called Hamelin. Even the characters themselves are a mix of this old and new. Heck, even the genre itself and the design choices down to the coding are a mix. It’s really cool.
We’ll read the story together in class (I’d like to get through the whole thing, as it’s not particularly long), but I’d still like to touch a bit on the main characters of Hobo Lobo.
First, we have the story of the Mayor, whose name is literally Mayor Dick Mayor–(did I say subtle humor earlier? I take it back). The mayor runs a “progressive Fascist-Calvinist coalition government” in Hamelin–(essentially, for those like me who can’t really keep political anything straight, it’s an ultra-religious dictatorship). He’s… a terrible and corrupt politician who ignores due process, goes to psychics for advice, and wants to purge the city of rats–all for the purpose of staying in power during the next election.
Hm……… Interesting………… That’s not familiar at all………………..
He’s cryptically told to hire a professional.
Thus enters Hobo Lobo, the “protagonist” of sorts.
This “Renaissance Journeyman” rolls into town ready to accept any job he can for the barest of fees. Seems a little too good of a match for our Mayor Dick Mayor.
It’s interesting in the beginning–seeing the way these two characters are set up. The mayor gives a very established, power-driven but laissez-faire vibe. Words that come to mind when thinking about his character, to me, include: manufactured, corrupt (-ed and -ing), uncaring, misled, ignorant, perfection-seeking, power-hungry, modern (in the bleakest sense).
Hobo Lobo, on the other hand, from the very start has more of an old but carefree vibe. Words like versatile, pure (in a weird sense), supernatural/fantasy (see: page, folklore come to mind. (I’m struggling to find the right words, but basically: he’s a complex character that juxtaposes the mayor… but when you think a little harder they have some things in common. Would it be selfishness, perhaps?) You get the sense that he knows what’s up from the get-go regarding his eventual deal with the mayor, but it would seem that a more base need wins out in Lobo’s moral dilemma.
Continuing this look at blending old and new, simple and complex: the plot itself is another element. We start off with a simple story about a simple (but grim) deal made in a town–one that could take place in any setting and for now seems to be more medieval than anything–but come to realize that there are more complex things at play here. Socio-political unrest, religious zealots in power, xenophobia, genocide, the effect of the media (Fourth Estate)… All of which… is uncannily relevant.
Which brings us to the themes of Hobo Lobo.
Let’s start with the obvious. Hobo Lobo is very politically charged, showcasing political extremism, complacency for that extremism, racial and social ignorance, and overall exacerbation by the media (which, in Hobo Lobo, is aptly named “Fourth Estate” in a logo startlingly reminiscent of General Electric and another of Fox News).
As I am not particularly one for going on and on about politics, so I won’t be touching too much on it (aside from opening the floor for discussion, of course), I’ll just point out that this piece was written in 2014. While the themes were relevant back then, it was more of an extreme future–a laughable 1984-esque dystopian dream.
In our year 2018.
It’s safe to say that Stevan Živadinović predicted the future.
That’s really all I’ll say about that, unless anyone has any comments they’d like to bring up about anything socio-political or Fourth Estate. Feel free to discuss!
There is one other topic that I would like to touch on, though. The rats.
The rats, while not given much of a voice in the story, are portrayed in a somewhat polarized way. The narrator and the mayor both boast about how the rats are “freaking people out” (p. 1) and “destroying the livelihoods of taxpayers” (p.2), but on the third page, we’re given a wordless panorama of their lives–a vibrant array of who rats are as a people. You can even see it subtly throughout the second page, as rats go about their lives and get help from Lobo, as well.
It’s a brief snapshot, the beginning of the third page, but it works, because the rats’ absence is felt very strongly in the subsequent page. “This was noticed” (p. 3.2), but the mayor and media gloated of this great achievement of historical significance. It’s a testament to the rampant xenophobia/racism of today–of the fear of someone “different,” the impact of their absence to a society, and the disgusting, prideful sense of achievement when that society is consequently seen as “free” from that “different” force.
“More to come…”
The seventh page of Hobo Lobo is, in one word, haunting. You can tell on the previous page that Lobo is fed up with the mayor, with Hamelin’s ignorance, with the whole of society, and so he comes to a decision with a swift kick and a busted radio.
The anticipation that builds up with the seventh page, and the realization of what Lobo is doing–luring the town’s children in that same Pied Piper-esque way that he lured the rats to their deaths–is like watching the second shoe drop. That simple, almost righteous vibe Lobo gave off earlier crumbles away–purely visually, which is even more powerful–and you get a sick sense that there really are no “good” characters in this story.
And he must realize it, too, with that distraught, perhaps even self-loathing, look to him. This must go against everything about his character, but it must also give him some kind of twisted satisfaction to get revenge. The question is, which one wins out? Will he regret this decision or accept it and be satisfied by it?
I’m sure that that is what we would find out later on in the story… but this is the final page, and has been for about four years. According to that Info-Dump page…
… it’s been a while. That chart there represents the days between pages. It looks like an update won’t be coming in the near future. (Which is fair! It’s common in the fanfiction world; life gets in the way and updates come few and far between. It’s also a mood, I say as I recall a story I started sophomore year of high school that is only halfway finished… I’m a graduate student… Actually, Hobo Lobo started the same year I started that story. Ha. Small world.)
Anyway, honestly? This “final page” acting as an ending is… actually perfect. Hauntingly poetic. Stories with no definite ending that leave you with more questions than answers, with a sense of worry in your gut for what comes next and dreaded acceptance that you’ll never find out… they’re really cool. Especially a deeply morally-rooted and horribly relatable one as this.
Were this story to continue…what do you think the ending would be? Are the children okay? What will Lobo do? What will become of the mayor? the town?
And, considering the eerily similar state of our own society today, as touched on earlier, what does that say about the future of our society? Are we waiting for the second shoe to drop? Where are we in the Hobo Lobo story? What will become of us?
Well. I’d say that about wraps up my little exploration of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin. Props to Stevan Živadinović for “[MAKING] A THING” that would turn out to be a masterpiece on modern-day socio-political commentary and complex moral dilemma.
ScareMail Generator is a little app which can generate stories with scaring words. These stories may not make sense but NSA has to examine these nonsense thoroughly because they contain key words that are classified as dangerous words. The author developed ScareMail Generator to express his dissatisfaction of Internet surveillance. He hopes to retain privacy using ScareMail Generator.
By changing the number of words to generate, you can generate different lengths of scary stories. For the purpose of this app, it is better to generate longer texts.
This app can be downloaded to gmail and generate different scare mails every time you send an email.
At the beginning of the story, Hamelin was described as a Christian town with beautiful scenery. But underneath this peaceful life, there were dirty and dark things.
The rats caused many troubles in Hamelin. The major wanted to kick them out so as to win more votes. At that time, Hobo Lobo came to the town. He is a magical man who can do almost anything. People loved him.
The major found Hobo Lobo and promised him a large amount of money as long as he help the town get rid of the rats.
Hobo Lobo agreed. At one night, he played music and the rats followed him out of the town. The music was light and joyful at the beginning.
But as the music became louder and louder, Hobo Lobo brought death to all of the rats.
Now Hamelin is no longer afraid of God because it has become a believer of Satan.
Later Hobo Lobo tried to find major and get his reward but it was impossible at the beginning. On previous page, the author gave hint of the major’s personalities.
Hobo Lobo called the major’s office but he received useless answers.
When Hobo Lobo met the major in person, he received insult. The major thought that Hobo Lobo was nobody, he himself was the one who saved the town.
Hobo Lobo had no other way but to sue the major, but he could not provide evidence because the major only gave him oral promise. Hobo Lobo lost the trial and he had to pay a large amount of money.
When the major was being interviewed, Hobo Lobo was despetare. Ironically, the Major said that “justice was served today”.
Just then the major received a phone call, saying that all children in Hamelin was outside. But the major did not care about the children. He only cared about himself.
At the end of the story, the children followed Hobo Lobo out of the town, like the rats once did.
This story may want to criticize the current situation in the US. When the rats died, the Statue of Liberty revealed itself from blood.
I thought the creation of the ScareMail Generator is such an interesting idea. This software created by Benjamin Grosser uses a collection of specific words and linguistics methods to generate a creative “story” every time a person sends an email. The words use such as “ plot”, “facility”, etc. are considered “scary” and raised suspicion. When the software is installed it will confuse the National Security Agency (NSA)and make their search results useless by reading random stories and narratives.
Grosser,, describes that the NSA has a certain software that runs through emails and detects certain words and communication that they believe is written by terrorists. These words will flag your email and they will read them in an attempt to prevent a terrorist attack. The NSA is skilled in this field and it is their job to identify these conversations and communications before anything drastic happens, which could have been prevented.
Even so, I also agree with Grosser’s statement that reading citizens personal email is a violation of our first amendment rights and the government should not interfere with our privacy. The ScareMail software serves its purpose to reveal a flaw of the NSA’s surveillance that words do not equal intent.
I didn’t download the extension because for one I wouldn’t want the government to purposely get attached to one of my emails because of these scary words. Additionally, I was not interested in creating narrative stories in my email to distract the government. Nevertheless, I think ScareMail is an interesting creation.
“Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” is my favorite elit so far. It recreates the European folktale” Pied Piper of Hamelin”. I have never heard the folktale before but I can catch up with by reading the elit version. I love the idea of side-scrolling and “infinite canvas”. They recall my memory of the comic books I read when I was a kid.
The third page impressed me a lot. It has a few texts, but provides a long image to show how Hobe Lobe eliminated rats. The creepy images, which illustrate death of rats, are also presented as a politcial satrie. I saw the irrelevent objects flying everywhere, such as apples, trukey, lobstor, a shirt, socks, tie and sculptrues. some sybolisms, like the statues of liberty, may be implications of political situations.
I really enjoy the ending. It is implict but leaves a reader some imaging space. I really want to proceed reading but it ends at page7.
The ScareMail Generater is quite siginificant. I learned its value of “nonsense” by reading its intruction and oprating the project. it is defending the dataveillance and asking for privacy. It perhaps cannot change anything, but it stands for a brave voice and initiative awareness.
I am very curious with the reason that ScareMail can be one of the elit. By reading and dicussing with my classmates, I am gradually understanding that. The mail is using digital language to interve the NSA Deploy Program and fight against govermental surveilance. That means some people are using electronic literature to change the traditional mind. The power of elit not only deliever message but also is a weapon to defend ourselves. Besides ScareMail, the web provides other projects, such as Safebook, which is againt privacy stealing. Those work seems to be nonsense. But they are pioneers to lead an innovation and revolution of human society.
The official class site for Dr. Mia Zamora's Fall 2018 Electronic Literature course.