Friday, February 29, 2008

Wonky Teeth and Web Comics

Feeling much better today, thank you! :)

Before I launch into today's post, I'd like to bring your attention to a good cause. Rachel's Wonky Teeth.

From the Beat: Webcomicker Rachel Nabors (Rachel the Great, Crow Princess) reports that she needs $25,000 worth of dental surgery and orthodontics. She’s a freelancer with no health insurance.But she does have a Paypal button.

I met Rachel at HeroesCon 2007 last Summer. Her booth was sort of across the corner from our Flashback Universe booth, so during the course of the weekend I had an opportunity to chat with her. She's a very cool person who is having a spot of trouble with her teeth, so I thought I would help spread the word.

If you would like to learn more, (or hopefully donate) feel free to click the banner below.

Fix Rachel's Wonky Mouth

Now about Web Comics in general...

I can really only think of one web comic I follow with any regularity now, and that's High Moon at Zuda.

Outside of High Moon, I really have a hard time with web comics, and I don't think I'm alone on this. I find them a little at odds with one of the fundamental principals of the internet, and that's the idea that we often surf the net for complete experiences - I think that's why YouTube videos work so well - you never, ever expect that any YouTube video that you are going to click on is going to be part 1 of a continuing series (unless, someone has, you know, chopped up, say the entire War of the Gargantuas and posted it on YouTube.)

For the most part, when someone sends you a YouTube link, you expect, at tops, to be completely entertained in 5 or less minutes.

And if YOU don't, you can damn well be sure your kids do!

However, with Web Comics, unless they are the sort of PVP daily *strips* you don't often have that nice satisfying feeling of getting a complete experience from reading them. (even PVP seems to demand that you catch up on the previous strips in order to enjoy the latest ones...)

With that in mind, I actually think Zuda will be MUCH more worthwhile endeavor a year from now when the first batch of stories have been completed. (It might not even be a bad idea for Zuda to consider different sized stories in the future as well. Currently they seem to want in the neighborhood of 50 installments for each story. Setting up different categories with shorter story lengths might be a way to increase the content on the site AND give visitors choices as to the amount of time they would spend on each visit.)

On the flipside, Web Comics seem to be a financially wise route to go. Or at least wiser than self publishing... Todd Allen's The Economcs of Web Comics seems to make it clear that Web Comics can be good way to make some money and/or build an audience for a published version of your comic, while self-publishing paper comics has become harder and more expensive.

Todd Allen says...

Web Comics have, to some degree, stepped in and are picking up large audiences as the printed small press continues to wither in circulation. Web Comics show greater diversification of genre. Web Comics are, at minimum, in the process of blowing up the Print Comics small press, if they have not already done so.

So, with all that said, would I ever consider working on a web comic? Yeah, but only if I felt like it was going to be something with a definite ending. And it wouldn't be Superheroes. I'm pretty sure the success I've had with Flashback Universe is because I'm really serving the CBR downloader market in *exactly* the way it wants to be served. Once you start eyeing the high seas of the CBR unitiated, you really need to start thinking about something other than superheroes. (It'll be interesting to see how Warren Ellis's Freak Angels project goes.)

Hm...I think this is the part where we open the hymnals and you pretend to sing. :D

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sick Today: Artifact Backstory Preview

I'm sick today, so I'm just going to post this one sneak preview page from Pierre today.

From the upcoming Artifact Backstory...

- Jim

Monday, February 25, 2008

Free Comics Monday: The Green Lama

I'm going to continue my spotlight of Public Domain Comic characters who are also appearing in the Jim Krueger/Alex Ross series:Project Superpowers Today we feature the Green Lama.

Here's what wikipedia has to say about the Green Lama...
The Green Lama's first comic-book appearance was in issue #7 of Prize Comics (December 1940), where he continued to appear for 27 issues. In Prize Comics #24, he teamed up with Black Owl, Dr. Frost and Yank & Doodle to take down Frankenstein's Monster. He then moved to his own title, The Green Lama (Spark Publications) which lasted for 8 issues from December 1944 to March 1946. The character of the Green Lama was somewhat different in his comic-book incarnation (for example having the power of flight, and wearing a skin-tight costume) although the scripts were still written by Kendell Foster Crossen who had created the earlier pulp version of the character.

[ download Green Lama 03 ]

[ download Green Lama 04 ]


Friday, February 22, 2008

Random Screenshots: Remembering Steve Gerber

While I was up in Rock Hill last week, Steve Gerber passed away.

To say I was a fan of Steve Gerber's work is quite an understatement. In many ways, I feel his stories and ideas defined the Bronze Age New Ideas era better than anyone else. (Jim Starlin and Steve Englehart run close seconds...)

It would be pointless for me to try and sum up my thoughts on Mr. Gerber, because so many people have already done a much better job than I could ever do.

For one of the best, check out Steven Grant's amazing tribute to Steve Gerber here

What I would like to do is show you what Pirate Bay is doing...

I don't know how Mr. Gerber would feel about the idea of his lifes work being distributed via torrents from now until forever, but it's nice to see the scanners remember him like this...

Meanwhile, at Newsarama...
A poster named Layters, upset by the idea that Marvel is going to charge $3.99 a pop for the Secret Invasion series as started what amounts to a personal crusade against $4.00 comics (something I feel is going to happen soon...) Layters started a thread called:

When Books his $3.99 will you drop books or switch to trade?

On this thread he has a poll asking people what will they do when comics are $4.00 a pop. Here are the results so far...

Only 16% of the respondents said they would continue to buy monthly comics.
Almost 50% of the people said they would Get Less Books...

Somehow, I don't think the comics these readers are considering Getting Less of are Secret Invasion, but rather the more fringe books. Already this year, we've seen the cancellation of The Order and ShadowPact.

Not sure how such an increase would affect Indy publishers. A lot of them are already selling books at $4.00 a pop...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: DC Comics and 2000 AD

I'm behind on my PCDW items, so today I'm going to play catchup...

1) 2000 AD for iPhones and iPods
The first is the interesting article from Newsarama on ClickWheel and their move to make 2000 AD available for downloadable for iPods and iPhones.


PCDW points: 2000 :D

2) DC's Current Sales Slump
next check out some of the suggestions from Newsarama posters on how to fix DC's current sales slump...

TShock suggests iTunes for comics
Vbartilucci suggests DC post their comics in cbr format
Lemurion suggests the same thing

Now, before you just dismiss these posts as the simple ravings of Newsarama fanboys (of which I'm proud to say I am one...) let me say this - I've been keeping up with the ebb and flo of this Digital Comics Revolution for about 5 years, and in the past such suggestions would have been met with a rampant village of paper loving peasants wielding pitchforks and torches on the lone visionary who dare suggest a thing.

Now, the idea of digital versions of comics are not only accepted, but are encouraged by other posters on Newsarama. That is what the suits call a Paradigm Shift...

PCDW Points: 1000

3) DC to hold artists nose to the grindstone
Originally reported by Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters but now being cross reported by blog at Newsarama and Heidi MacDonald's The Beat we have rumor(?) that DC has implemented a new policy regarding late artwork...

DC Comics has a new in house policy for pencillers. Aside from very specific
contracted creators (such as Jim Lee), any penciller contracted to work on a
monthly book must deliver complete turnaround of 22 pages of work in four weeks.
Not a month, four weeks. If that schedule isn’t maintained, they’ll pull pages
and assign them to other creators. And you may run short of future work. A
reduction in quality is more acceptable than a reduction in quantity.

I know what you are thinking - Jim, how does that add to PCDW?

Well, here's my thinking - I've gotta figure that this policy is the direct result of some of the higher ups at Time Warner looking at the DC books and going, "Hey, when we miss a month on say, JLA, we miss out on a lot of money! We gotta stop that no matter what the consequences..."

Such pennywise, pound foolish thinking is almost a hallmark of corporate TW really.

It's no secret that Wall Street has Time Warner's balls in a vice and are expecting it to perform. (Which it still has failed to do despite the much ballyhooed Bewkes/Parsons switchup)

It's also no secret that Time Warner has been laying off workers in it's magazine divisions

You put all that together, and what you have is corporate making a policy that runs counter to what a more successful rival is doing, jeopardizes reader loyality AND is probably going hurt them when it comes time to recruit namebrand artists.

Overall, not a good thing for DC.
And where DC/Marvel go, so go paper comics...

PCDW Points: 1000

Monday, February 18, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Fantastic Comics

First, before we get to todays free comics, I want to say THANK YOU! to everyone who called, emailed or posted a comment in response to my post about my sister Carter. It's hard for me to explain how much that meant to me, but just know I really appreciated it. (Some of you really surprised me with your knowledge of my phone number and your disregard for long distance charges! :D )

About today's Free Comic - Last week, Erik Larsen's awesome Next Issue Project made its grand appearance, and I like many other people, really enjoyed it! What I'd like to do today is present two actual issues of the Golden Age Fantastic Comics for you to check out. Both issues have StarDust the Super Wizard stories in them, which pretty much makes them Super Awesome by default! :D

[ Fantastic Comics 12 ]

[ Fantastic Comics 16 ]

As always, I hope you enjoy them!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Sister Carter

Carter ShelleyI don't know what you guys expect when you click over to this blog, but I'm 99% certain its not an image of a female minister.

That's my oldest sister The Rev. Dr. Anne Carter Shelley, one of the first women to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church in North Carolina, and in a weird way, she's helped guide me over the years to become the Godfather of Digital Comics that I am today. Let me explain:

Today (Valentine's Day) is my birthday, a date I seem to share with Chad Bowers. And while at my age, what you GET on you birthday is less important than a nice phone call from your siblings (who usually just send you clothes) Carter always managed to come up with just the right gift.

When I was 10, she introduced me to the wonderful world of Asterix and Obelix. Up until then, I was pretty much only reading Marvel, DC and Harvey comics, but Carter, who was studying at Manchester, had access to a world of comics I had never dreamed of.

She sent me Asterix and Cleopatra for my 10th birthday, and I remember pouring over it for months spotting details and jokes I had missed on previous readings. I looked for other Asterix and Obelix comics here in the States, but was unable to find them. It would be several years before I had a chance to go to England myself to get more.

What was coolest about Carter is that she never, ever thought that my obession with comics was weird or juvenile. I don't know how it was for the rest of you guys, but by and large, I often hear stories from other comic fans that most of their family thought collecting comics as a *phase* they should outgrow or some smart investment move that they wished they had thought of. :/

Carter understood, better than anyone, that I read and collected comics because they were fun and entertaining. She was a bibliophile herself, so the idea of wanting to collect a series of stories was something she completely understood.

Other comics Carter sent me from across the pond included the awesome British Comic annuals like Beezer and Bongo. The closest I can get to an American equivalent of these comics is our Sunday Comics page.

And of course 2000 AD.

I think what was so amazing about these was that they just seemed to encompass so many styles of comics. Beezer and Bongo were full of fun characters and simple humor stories. 2000 AD on the other hand needs no introduction thanks to the success of Judge Dredd over here, but back in the 70's, there was simply nothing coming out in America like 2000 AD. (Perhaps you would have to go back to the Silver Age to find a similar style in American comics.)

What these comics did for me was open my eyes to a simple style of storytelling that was quite different than American comics, which at the time were starting to to become more dependent on continuing storylines. I understood that the stories in 2000 AD were also parts of larger storylines (in most cases) but they were also COMPLETE stories unto themselves which left the reader satisfied for that week.

This year, my friend Steve Kean gave me a subscription to 2000 AD Extreme edition, and from what I can tell, the stories in 2000 AD still follow much of this style.

Something else that Carter did that prepared me for my future was she introduced me to the world of MacIntosh computers. In the 1980's Macs were tiny beige boxes that pretty much used floppy discs to run any type of program. And while I was familiar with Commodore type computers, I found the Macs MUCH easier to use.

Carter let me use her Mac (which was a very expensive pc for the time) to write term papers for college. And while a Korean speaking Calculus professor and an archaic punchcard system were a one-two punch that knocked me out of the USC Computer Science school, the MacIntosh lured me back into the world of computers with its simple interface and easy to use programs.

beginTANGENT I really didn't have a hard time turning my back on the school of Computer Science back in 1985 because, after using Carter's Mac, I knew where the future was headed (not towards Macs per se, but towards simplicity in computer systems)

When Macromedia Flash introduced ActionScript, I knew the time to come back to the world of programming was right, and watching the evolution of languages like Ruby and .NET, I've seen my prediction of a simpler world of software development come true. I think if you are a faithful reader of this blog, you've seen I have a habit of making loosely unsubstantiated predictions. I bet if you were to ask Phil Looney, you'd be surprised how often I'm right about such things. endTANGET

Anyway, it was on Carter's B/W Mac that I typed my first Horror story (which I also sold), We Are Seven. I wrote other stories after that, and a few plots and scripts for Marvel's SilverHawks, but I don't think I was cut out to be a writer at the time as I found the solitary task of writing could not compete to playing in metal bands, drinking too much and running around with the wrong type of girls. However, my ability to use a Mac led me to a career as a typesetter at kinkos, which I parlayed into a job as a graphic designer and then a webmaster and now a software developer. And while I don't use a mac now, I acknowledge how it helped me get where I am today.

Over the years, Carter has not forgotten how much I love comics, and she has continued to send me Christmas and Birthday gifts that somehow manage to tie together my love of comics with whatever she is doing in her world. This Christmas for instance, Carter gave me a copy of Persepolis, which is a good example of how Carter could find that perfect graphic novel that we could both relate to and talk about.

Last Monday, Carter and her husband Tom visited me and my family down here in Columbia. Such visits with Carter now are rare as she has moved to the other side of the continent. While visiting, I showed her the Flashback Universe. She asked me a ton of questions about what I was doing, and while she didn't understand all of my answers, she was completely fascinated by the concept. The next morning she was still thinking about it and said, "Jim, that's a very cool thing you are doing."

I'm sorry to say that that will be the last time I will ever see Carter, as she passed away a few days later. She was 54 years old and died of a cardiac arrest.

You see, 18 years ago, Carter had extreme kidney failure, and it was only the donation of my brothers kidney that has kept her here with us this long. My family and I have lived with the understanding that she might die sooner than normal because of this, but understanding and being prepared are two different things.

Her Memorial service was less about grieving for her death and more about rejoicing in the life she had lived. That is exactly how she would have wanted it.

These past few days, while helping my folks with the Memorial service, I have had many opportunities to think about all the different ways Carter influenced my life - this post is merely a small example. I thought I'd let you know what a great person Carter was.

Thank you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Free Comics Monday: The Fighting Yank!

This weeks free public domain comics feature a character you may have seen in this month's Superpowers Project by Alex Ross: The Fighting Yank!

[ Click here to download America's Best Comics 18 ]

[Click here to download America's Best Comics 20 ]

As always, if I am mistaken in my assumption that these comics are in Public Domain, please drop me an e-mail, and I'll be happy to remove them. :)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Preview: Saturn Knight: The Knight Before Christmas

Many of you may remember the Lady Nemo Christmas Card I posted back in December. Well, that image is going to be the cover of a story that Chris Sims has written that we hope to have ready by Christmas. Pierre is hard at work on the story now, so I thought I'd share some of the pages he's sent in already...

[ click here to see the preview ]

Hope you enjoy them!

- Jim

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: iTablet on the Horizon?

Today's PCDW item was sent to me from Richard Bensam (RAB), the fantastic writer on the Fantom Force comic...

From comes this article speculating on the development of a sort of iPodish eBook reader (or some form of iTablet pc)...

Opening the Book on an Apple iBook Reader

RAB points out that here is the relevant bit for comic readers:

"One interesting possibility that doesn't seem to have gotten much consideration is the ability for an eBook reader to also display comic books and graphic novels. Paper versions of comic books and graphic novels have lost much of the readership they had 20 or 30 years, ago and distribution of these products has declined markedly as well.

"What better way to reinvigorate the market for comic books and graphic novels than to include this ability in the iBook reader? Comic books might be an excellent addition to the iTunes store and, no, they are not just for kids these days. There's quite a bit of terrific graphic novels/comics available for adult reading too.

"Apple should keep all of this in mind. Comics could be a killer app for the iBook reader."

MUCH more evidence of an approaching iTablet device can be found here at this iBook Reader article.

Why does this matter? Well, if there's a slick iPod looking eBook reader that you can read your issues of Matt Fraction's Casanova or David Gallaher's High Moon while sipping coffee (or a scotch on the rocks for that matter) AND use as an ice breaker with the cute girl* reading that dog eared copy of Camille Paglia's Sex, Art, and American Culture then those things are gonna fly off the shelves at Best Buy and paper comics are gonna disappear altogether.

PCDW points: 1000

*Note: Don't waste your time on the cute girl. If she's reading Paglia, you'll have a fun 3 weeks, then you end up having to change your phone number. :/ :D

Monday, February 4, 2008

Free Comics Monday: The Black Terror

As promised, today I will have 3 Free Comics for those of you who were surprised to only get one last week (though I think any 1 Flashback Universe Comic is easily equal to 2 regular comics... ;) )

This weeks Free Comic features The Black Terror!
From Wikipedia...
The Black Terror is a fictional character who originally appeared in Exciting Comics #9, published by Nedor Comics in 1941. Some Black Terror stories were written by Patricia Highsmith before she became an acclaimed novelist.

The character has been revived by various publishers over the years, including Eclipse Comics, AC Comics, America's Best Comics and Dynamite Entertainment.
Last week, Dynamite Entertainment used the Black Terror (along with several other Golden Age characters) in their Superpowers Project by writer Jim Krueger and artist Alex Ross

Click Here to Download Black Terror 01

Click Here to Download Black Terror 02

Click Here to Download Black Terror 20

Friday, February 1, 2008

MyOldJob DeathWatch...

So apparently, the company I was working for has decided to get sue happy and one set of partners is suing another set. Where this leaves me is sort of a gray area, so I'm going to spend the next couple of days looking at job postings on Monster and CareerBuilder. the meantime, please check out Todd Allen's wonderful breakdown of the 2007 Comic Sales numbers.

Take Home Test:
While I'm searching for a new job, please feel free to combine Todd's article with the news that Yahoo has been bought by Microsoft and this news about 17,000 jobs lost in the US economy come up with your own Paper Comic DeathWatch index. Please remember to show your work. If you get stuck, just add a 0 to your weight and start from there. :)

Quick Notes:
Caine: We are on the same page about Fabian! I thought he did a great job with Thunderbolts when he was on the title.
Jason: Expect a detailed reply from me later but from a cursory scan, both Fallen and Moonlight sound like great ideas.
Nathan, Jeff and Kima: Sorry about just posting one comic this week on Free Comics Monday. I'll post 3 Monday to make up for it. ;)
Phil Thank you for the compliment on the Democrat article!

- Jim


Related Posts with Thumbnails