Mark Waid Talks Digital Comics at Tools of Change for Publishing

An experiment here. First I want to talk about Mark Waid and his thoughts/advancements in digital comics. After that I have some thoughts on our digital lifestyles. And to finish off, we’ll see if I can tie them together nicely. Here we go.

Some months back, (seriously, it’s been in my Google Reader [now Feedly] for 143 days upon writing this), Mark Waid presented his thoughts on comics in the digital age at the O’Reilly Tools of Change Publishing Conference. Waid’s resume includes well-remembered runs on The Flash, Captain America, 52, his current work on Daredevil, and plenty more. But recently, he’s placed a special focus on the new capabilities of digital comics, I.E. comics viewed on our modern electronics, including desktop computers, a tablet, or a smartphone. One of Waid’s allies is Yves Bigerel, who created the best example of what comics can do now. Though Bigerel does not come up in the video, I know how integral he has been in much of Waid and Marvel Comics’ attempts at digital comics. If you have any interest in the evolution of an artform, it’s worth a watch.

For more examples, you can read my post from last April. Then, as now, I loved this stuff.

And here is where we switch tracks. I swear, it ties together. I think.

So why did the video sit in my Reader for so long? It’s 22 minutes! It’s not tl;dr, it’s too long, didn’t watch.

I’m sure I’m not the only one whose computer is less comfortable to sit at than his couch. And on the computer, I’m so much more likely to find another distraction. Many videos don’t need to be videos; the visuals are unnecessary. I can shift the video’s window to the side and do something else. If something catches my eye from the side of the screen, I can look over. But for the most part, it has the attention of my ears, but not my eyes.

If I’m scrolling though Facebook or Tumblr, I don’t want to stop to watch some video. I really don’t. A dog walking on two legs? Two minutes is too long. When on my computer or phone, I’m in charge. I control what’s on the screen and the pace at which I progress to the next image or story or whatever. Once I’m actually watching a video, I’m frozen. I’m not doing anything else, I’m slave to that video’s creators. At 22 minutes, you have be dedicated to watching that video. You carve out time to watch your favorite TV show. Conveniently, the 22 minutes of story are split by commercial breaks, even in our Age of DVR. We need those breaks, not only to pay for the production of the show, but to go to the bathroom or the fridge. We get released from servitude for three minutes.

And now for the dismount …

Control is also what was lacking in the early attempts at comics in the digital age. Motion comics weren’t comics. They were bad, limited animation. Most had lackluster voiceovers. Remember the one for Watchmen? One voiceactor for all the parts, including the women. And you can’t control the pacing. You hit play and 26 minutes later, it’s over. Sure, you can pause to study the background elements or rewind to hear a piece of dialogue again. But no one watches TV like that. We assume we see what we need to notice and if we don’t quite understand something, we can fill in the blanks soon. But reading, we’ll go back to savor a certain line or trace where a shadow came from. And though they’re on a brightly lit screen and not a dead tree, digital comics are all about that level of control. Each tap or swipe, a door opens, a punch is thrown. We take control.

Lady Sabre & The Kickstarter of the Ineffable Aether

Apologies for the lack of posts, but this time I have a good excuse, I swear.

I moved three weeks ago. And not down the street, but from Massachusetts to New York. I got offered a job I couldn’t turn down and here we are! The Kitchen is now located in a different … house?

ANYWAY, I came for an urgent reason. The Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether Kickstarter. Writer Greg Rucka and artist Rich Burchett are creating the first collection of their webcomic, the aforementioned Lady Sabre.

Lady Sabre Hardcover

In the creators’ own words:

Lady Sabre & The Pirates of the Ineffable Aether is a webcomic created by Eisner Award winners Rick Burchett (The Batman and Robin Adventures, The Superman Adventures, Blackhawk, She-Hulk) and Greg Rucka (Whiteout, Stumptown, The Punisher, Detective Comics, Queen & Country, Alpha). Rick handles the beautiful art and Greg provides the story and the words. The whole work is overseen by editor, designer, and web-guru Eric Newsom.

Lady Sabre’s world is one of danger, adventure, and deception, filled with clockwork monstrosities, dire magic, and noble hearts. It is a world flavored by Victorian England and late 19th century Europe and the Old West. It is a world of cannon fire and steel meeting steel, brass gears meshing seamlessly with steam-driven pistons, a world of passion and humor and a dash of romance.”

They are now in the “hours, not days” countdown of the campaign. I wanted to post earlier, but this is only the second time I’ve spent any real time on my computer since I moved. And though it was a success by the end of its first day, there’s still plenty of reasons to donate now. The primary reason is that this will be the only way to get the collection in the format it is being offered, and the only way to get it at all for at least a year.

What started as a 192-page book has now expanded into that book, two additional books (one an in-world almanac, the other a compilation of scripts and process materials, and maps of the world. And all this for as low as $20 for PDFs ($10 for just the comic), $30 for physical copies. Having already upgraded the book’s general quality as well as the materials used to create the comic, the only stretch goal that remains is to create deckplans for the HMS Pegasus, Lady Sabre’s vessel.

Higher pledges receive gifts ranging from swag (dogtags, tintype portraits), to signatures and art, to even appearing in the strip. That’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (Or at least, that’s how I explained it to my bank account.)

Only $7,000 separates that goal and the current amount of pledges. Hell, if the campaign raises $14,000 more, it’ll have raised $100,000 more than its original goal! And with the way some Kickstarters blow up in their final days, that’s not too much to expect.

So go back to the beginning read some strips or jump in now if you like dragons. If it seems like something you’d be into, pony up some cash. It’ll be worth it. When top creators are left to their own loves and devices, it usually is.

Donate, or the Lady will make you smuggle this map in your keister.

Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin’s The Private Eye

After some brief teasers yesterday, Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin’s new comic The Private Eye is already available. DM-free, pay what you want.

The Private Eye

Don’t ask what it’s about. If you love Y: The Last Man, or Saga, or Batgirl: Year One, or the new Daredevil, or especially Dr. Strange: The Oath, just do it.

Be a good, smart person. Pony up your three bucks at their new site

Becky Cloonan’s The Mire

Last week I was going through my mailbox and found a pink greeting card envelope. Was someone sending me a Thanksgiving card? An early Christmas card? A sticker covered some of the return address, so all I could see was:
9115 Ri

I started wracking my brain. Do I know any Rebeccas in Brookline? Beckys? Beccas? I don’t think so. And definitely not that would have a forked tongued demon on their return labels.

Get up to my apartment, open it up. Oh, Becky Cloonan! In Brooklyn! It was my copy of her new self-published one-shot The Mire.

The Mire by Becky Cloonan

All preorders of the book received a sketch on the title page. This is mine.

The follow-up her 2011 book Wolves, The Mire tells the story of a squire’s delivery of a letter to a castle on the other side of a haunted swamp. Of course, nothing is ever that simple. I’d say more, but in a story this short, it would give away all the fun. But I will say that after reading the 24 pages, I was flipping right back to the beginning to read it again.

While I can’t say much about the writing, let’s remember that Cloonan is primarily an artist. Specifically, she’s one of comic’s greatest chameleons. In Batman, look at the moxie in Harper Row’s smirk. Harper Row by Becky CloonanOr the adorable eyes on Abby Arcane in the recent Swamp Thing annual. Abby Arcane by Becky CloonanOr any issue of Demo. She constantly adjusts her style to the fit the story. Here, it was her liberal use of blacks that stood out to me. Yes, there’s plenty of darkness in The Mire, but she still draws every brick of the castle and every worm violating an undead rider’s mouth. Sweet.

An Interior Panel from the Mire

Image Stolen from Cloonan’s Own Site.

A note to any comics readers, from me: You can order your own copy of The Mire online or download a digital copy on your favorite stores including Graphicly and iBooks or for your Nook or Kindle.

And a note to any comics creators, from Cloonan herself on book’s final page: “Self-publish or perish.”

Support this Comic: Leaving Megalopolis

If you’re a fan of the current Batgirl series …
If you were a fan of the great Secret Six
If you want to be in on the ground floor of a new series …
If you want to support good comics and good creators …

Leaving Megalopolis

Get yourself to Kickstarter and support Leaving Megalopolis. From the Kickstarter page:

Leaving Megalopolis is a thrilling, original 80 page graphic novel of suspense and terror in a superhero universe gone horribly wrong, where a small band of survivors face the horror of both their formerly beloved protectors, and the dark secrets within themselves. Featuring the creative talents of writer Gail Simone and artist Jim Calafiore this is a story of violence, fear, hope and –if they’re lucky– survival.

Leaving Megalopolis will be brought to you by the team behind DC Comics’ critical smash, Secret Six. IGN.COM called the final issue of Secret Six, “the best single comic issue of 2011,” and in this dark ride of a story, we go even wilder! Leaving Megalopolis is a journey, by two professional creators, with no holds barred and no limits imposed. Our groundbreaking work on Secret Six was only the beginning. If you thought that was dark…

Leaving Megalopolis will be a new and complete story in a single 80 page volume. Bonus materials will include development sketches, single page illustrations by some of the biggest names in comics, a forward by industry legend Mark Waid, and a short prose story in the Leaving Megalopolis universe by Gail Simone.

This is what’s great about comics. It’s possible for two creators to say “Hey! We want to do this on our own, without any corporate overlords. Will you, the fans, help us?” And the fanbase shouts back “A million times yes! Here’s 15 dollars!” The campaign has already reached its goal, in fact it’s almost at three times its original goal. I’m coming to you more to get the word out about something that should be great. Since the campaign started, the plan has been revised – the book will now be a 96 page story and all copies will be a hardcover and come with a free digital download. Simone and Calafiore aren’t being greedy, all that extra money is going into making a better product.

For just $15, you can essentially preorder your own copy of the book. As your pledge goes up, so does your reward. Many rewards are claimed, but you can still get an 11×17 sketch from Calafiore or a portfolio or script review from the team. But for the budgetary-minded of us, $15 will suffice. And $15 for a 96 page hardcover is already a steal.

Yes, it’s through Kickstarter, but this is not a pipedream. This book has reached its goal and will happen. But for the forseeable future, this is the only way to read the newest work from the great team of Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore.

Get on it. Now!

Terry Dodson’s Boston FOLLOW UP!

Last month, I appreciated Terry Dodson’s drawings of Boston in Avenging Spider-Man #9. Well, issue #10 came out yesterday and I am very excited. Anyone who has driven across the Zakim has seen a large banner with a Celtics logo facing the Garden. Despite a number of Google searches, I can’t quite tell what the building is. Celts’ offices? Not related at all? I don’t know. But it’s iconic. To me.

I did a Google search for a good picture, but why not let Dodson show you?

Celtics Logo at Lovejoy Wharf

My Boston Celtics. Avenging Spider-Man #10.

I’m a bit iffy on the building on the left. I’m pretty sure that should either be the Garden or not exist. But I won’t complain. The Celtics got some ink! Ray may be gone, but I’m excited to see Paul, KG, Rondo, and all the rest again in a couple months.

Go Celtics.

Terry Dodson’s Boston, as Seen in Avenging Spider-Man #9

Writers and artists often talk about how the setting of their story, whether it be Gotham, Hell’s Kitchen, or the blue area of the moon, becomes a character. A good book will teach the reader about these places, even if they’re fictional. So when Kelly Sue DeConnick and Terry Dodson’s Avenging Spider-Man #9 was going to take place above the skies of Boston, it was exciting. (The new Captain Marvel is one of the few Boston natives in comics, [Who else? Emma Frost?], so you take what you can get.)

Then I hit the following page:

Spider-Man and Captain Marvel Above the Zakim Bridge, BostonI’ve driven over that bridge, the Zakim, a thousand times. But if you were to ask me if there was water under it, I’d have said no. I’d have said, “Nope. Just some train tracks and Boston Sand and Gravel.”

I did a little Google mapping and sure enough. The Charles does in fact flow under the bridge. (Of course it does. How else would the Charles go west into Massachusetts?)

I would have liked to see the Garden in one of the backgrounds, but still, Terry Dodson, a dude from Oregon, has taught me something new about the city I grew up in. Yeah comics!

NOTE: Special thanks to Comic Book Resources. I stole their preview photo.