Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year From Flashback!

This New Year's image comes to us from Diego Tripodi, who drew the TRex BackStory. Diego also told me that he is currently working on a comic that has been selected to be in the January Zuda Competition! Way To Go Diego!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Top Ten Digital Comic News Stories of 2007

Hey, I'm back, and I hope you enjoyed your Holidays as much as I did! Well, with the year winding up, I thought it be nice to look back at 2007 and rundown the big news stories in the world of Digital Comics for 2007.

Note: Please don't try and figure out why one story ranks higher than another. In most cases, it's just an arbitrary call made by me...

1) Chrono/Theme packs become the big fad among the digital comic uploaders
For those of you who are not familiar with the term Chrono Pack, it's a torrent of comics of a specific character arranged in chronological order, thus the name. The most famous of these is the Marvel Chrono pack which saw a reseed on Zcult with a version 2 of the earlier packs. In addition to this, there was also a huge rise in C-list Chrono packs including... The Man-Bat Chrono Pack, The Freedom Fighters Chrono Pack, Galaxy of the Guardians Chrono Pack, Man-Wolf Chrono Pack... you get the idea. It seemed like every 3rd rate character was now the subject of a Chrono pack.

At the same time, Theme packs picked up steam as people started torrents on Witches, Werewolves, Zombies and Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis. While nothing new, there was quite a proliferation of these type of torrents this year.

2) Lost Girls is downloaded by over 65,000 people.
Now, if only half of those had been given the opportunity to *buy* the digital version at $1.00 a pop, imagine how much more money Top Shel would have made off the book.

3) Todd Allen becomes a columnist at ComicBookResources
For those of you not familiar with the knowledgeable Mr. Allen, I will introduce him here as the _EXPERT_ in all things Web Comics. His book, The Economics of Web Comics is MUST reading for anybody considering a future in Web Comics.

....a quick read will reveal that no one at Zuda read the book, but that's neither here or there...

While not *directly* related to Digital Comics per se, I think it's significant that reading comics on the web have gained enough traction amongst the mainstream comic readers that comicbookresources saw fit to have Allen start his column. Also, Allen sometimes has interesting notes about the Digital Comics scene (though he's not the Digital Comics nerd that I am...)

4) Amazon starts selling Kindles.
They look like crap and are way overpriced, but one day, you might be able to read American Flagg on them while sitting in an airport. Not really a Digital Comics new related item, but it's a step in the right direction, so there you go.

5) A developer in Australia develops a way to read comics on iTunes
Here's the link to the original post I did about this story.
Note: I have actually used this last week and flashback comics look great on the new iPod.

6) Marvel launches its Digital Comics Universe
Yeah, it's wrapped in an half assed Flash interface and NO they are not downloadable, but still full comic books on the web are a good thing right? Yeah...I know. I'll see you in alt.binaries.comics.reposts...

7) DC lauches Zuda
While DEFINITELY not Digital Comics, the Zuda project, like Marvel's DCU is an acknowledgement by one of the major players that the web is where the future is. I predict that DC launches its own Digital Comic site next year as well.

8) Marvel pulls its liscensing from GIT
So, once Marvel decided to launch its DCU it also pulled the liscensing for the PDF collections of comics on DVD that GIT was making. While I'm not a fan of PDF comics, this really feels like bad move. Here's the original story from the FB blog:

9) Slave Labor Graphis starts
While not given as much ink as Zuda or Marvel's DCU, Eyemelt was definitely the best in class example of how to sell Digital Comics in the year 2007. Besides having a great assortment of comics, Eyemelt provides users with a very easy system for buying their comics instantly. Dan Vado and company are to be commended! The aholes at PullBoxOnline should take note.

10) DC and Marvel send Zcult (and other torrent sites) cease and desist orders.
I don't think this will surprise anyone who's a regular at this blog. What I do think most of us found surprising was just what an uproar this little incident caused the *mainstream* comics web world. 3 years ago, I'd argue that the phrase Zcult meant nothing by and large to your average comic book message board poster. This year, it was a rallying call.

Well, that's all for this year. Quite a list aye?

I eagerly anticipate 2008!

Now, go get drunk! :D

- Jim

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Break

I'm headed home for the Holidays, so I don't know how much posting I'll be able to do, so in the meantime, Pierre and I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Behold! The Power of Prometheus!

Chad Bowers happened to send me some of the great artwork Chris Nye has been working on for their Prometheus I thought I'd share a few of the pages here.

For those of you just joining us, this particular Prometheus story is going to guest star Amanita and picks up from the last* issue of Prometheus where he was at the mercy of that Hoodoo Powered Heavy Metal band Blood Money.

This is Chris' first time at coloring a comic in Photoshop, and the results are looking great! Check out these pages...

Here is the Opening Splash page with Prometheus being strangled by a Sonic Serpent. (Which is just what I'm calling it. btw...)

Here we see Amy Nettles slipping off to a discreet place to change into her superpowered alter ego - Amanita.

And here we have Prometheus and Amanita ready to wail on Blood Money.

I actually saw quite a bit more pages than this and they all had that awesome 70's vibe about them that you see here, so you can imagine how jazzed I am about this comic!

Maybe Friday, I'll show you some more pages from Chris Sims' So Falls The World comic...

*Note: The *last issue* thing is just a joke. Please don't email me asking if there really are any other issues of Prometheus. :D

Monday, December 17, 2007

Two for One Monday: What's Scanned in the Harvey Universe

First a confession.

I love the old Harvey comic books. When I was a kid, I would read with equal enjoyment Hotstuff, Casper and Richie Rich as well as The Flash, Hulk and Tarzan. To me they were all just stories, each one taking you to their own special world with their own idiosyncratic artwork.

Confession 2: Last year, I came *this* close to actually starting an offshoot of Flashback Universe based on my own Harvey like world of characters. However, I decided that currently I didn't have the time or resources to pursue such an endeavor, so for now, that project is on the backburner...

Note: if you scratch Artifact, I think you'll see a little Irona underneath. This is one of those places where Pierre, upon reading my blog entry will scratch his head and say, "uh...I don't see it..." :D

Currently, because of many different factors, there are really one 3 places to find Harvey comic stories.

1) On Ebay.

2) On Amazon in b/w collections by Dark Horse (which I picked up. In black and white, the fine linework of the artwork really stands out...)

and 3) as scanned versions.

I really think that overall the scanned versions are our best bet for seeing the entire Harvey library preserved in some form.

I know it's easy to shake the finger of shame at the comic book scanners, but I think that 50 years from now, when paper is rationed out because of the great tree shortage, you'll thank the scanners for preserving these comics.

Anyway, without further adieu, I present:

[ What's Scanned in the Harvey Universe ]

Click the link above to see exactly what Harvey comics have been scanned so far. It's really quite impressive to see just how many have NOT been scanned yet. I really had no idea Harvey put out so many comics during their short tenure as a comic publisher.

Notice that page 2 says: "Print this and take it with you."

Wise words. ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two for One Monday: New guys in a.b.dcp?

This is part 1 of a 2 part article to make up for not posting on Friday...

So for those of you wanting the latest update on what's going on in the world of illegal comic book scanning check this out...apparently last week, another scanning group (or someone) decided to post the Minutemen scans to the alt.binaries.dcp group.

And this apparently caused a sh!tst0rm of controversy, because it's a newsgroup and doing anything in a newsgroup causes drama...

First, check out all the comics scanned by MinuteMen that were posted to this group:

For those of you who've been following my blog over the past few months, you'll remember my prophetic Hydra remark when I first mentioned the possible departure of the DCP group from the scanning scene.

Well, DCP is still alive and well, but apparently several other groups are making motions to become the top scanning group now.

Business TakeAways:
1) Marvel and DC can not stop illegal comic scanning/downloading
2) Users are becoming increasingly savy about how to *find* things on the internet
3) Marvel and DC are eventually going to be forced into a downloadable comics business model.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What do the colored spheres mean?

I got a letter from a Flashback Fan who I'll call Grizz asking this question...

I just happened to run across your website and read through a couple of the comics. I liked them and have now ended up downloading all of them. Anyways, my question is simple, on the characters page of your website what do all those stats mean? I couldn't find anything that told what they are, I assume they are classic Pen & Paper rpg equivalents like strength, dexterity/agility, etc but have no idea which color dot = what. Keep up the good work man.

What Grizz is referring to are these spheres on the character pages of the website..

Well, Grizz is correct that I'm am using a form of rpg shorthand to describe the attributes of each character. However, I'm not going to go so far as tell you what each color means, because I think if you look at the various different characters, you can figure it out. :)

"Why did you do that instead of just write up their origins and powers, you know Marvel Handbook style?"

Good Question. Here's why, and I think this is something a lot of people who pitch stories to me don't understand...

A character's powers and origins don't make that character interesting. What's more important is:

1) The sense of mystery and discovery that comes with reading about a new character.
2) The personality of the character.
3) The conflicts the character must deal with.

Yeah, I know, those sound like no-brainers, but I'll be damned if they aren't overlooked by people all the time. (And not just in the world of comics either. Look no further than that Hugh Jackman train wreck Van Helsing for an example in the movie world)

I will humbly submit to you that the Beast is one of the lamer (powerwise) characters to ever wear an Avengers badge, but his personality made him a fan favorite for a long time. Conversely, Iron Man, with all of his cool gadgets and stuff, never interested me until he became a raging drunk in the 80's.

So when the time came for me to put together the Flashback website, I decide I wasn't going to yak about the characters origins or powers but instead let one character describe another.

This is typically how you really find out about things anyway - your friends tell you about it. And with that, I'd like to thank Phil Looney for cluing me into the wonders of blogger. :D

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Why Zuda (and other Flash Image Viewers) distort text in Web Comics

Disclaimer:It's going to seem like I'm picking on Zuda, but that's not my intention. However, the Distorted Font Question keeps coming up again and again when people talk about Zuda, so I'm going to try and explain why it happens and how you as a web comic creator can minimize the effect.

Note: I had to post this information on another page altogether as blogger doesn't seem to like Flash files, so here is the link to the full article...

Why Flash mucks with your fonts...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What's Scanned and Unscanned in the DC Universe

I was asked via email about exactly how many comics have been scanned thus far (which is really such a hard question to answer because people scan the NEDOR comics for gosh sakes, so when you ask that question, I'm at a lost for a frame of reference...)

Anyway, I'm going to attempt to answer at least *part* of the question by posting the latest version of What's Scanned and Unscanned in the DC Universe - consider this a partial answer...feel free to examine the linked file and come back here for can navigate the page by clicking along the tabs at the bottom.

NOTE: I did not create this list. It is maintained by someone called the Phantom Stranger who does a remarkable job keeping up with all the new scans!

One of the first things you'll notice is that there are apparently only 3002 DC comics left to scan, and then ALL of DC publish content will have been scanned! Pretty amazing when you consider how long DC has been around.

I believe that the scanners are doing a good thing btw, as I doubt DC will ever get around to reprinting Binky, Bob Hope, ect...I'm glad someone is preserving those comics in some fashion.

A lot of the Unscanned stuff are Romance comics - not surprising as there lot a lot of sentimental attachment to those titles for the majority of the scanners.

If you click on the Scanned tab, be prepared to wait as that page loads - its a 15 meg html document... :P

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Comics On Paper?

So a lot of people ask me am I totally down on printed comics? Well, that depends on what you might be talking about.

If you are talking about the 22 page stapled advertising supplements that Marvel puts out that *just* happen to have 1/6th of a complete New Avengers story in them, then yes - I hate those things.

If you are talking about Hard Cover collected editions of the same storyline or complete runs of a book, then no. I LOVE collected Trades of comics! For those of you wondering what to give me for Christmas, hint, hint...

Not only do you get a complete story without being bombarded by *Music is my AntiDrug!* ads, but they also appreciate in value!

Behold the power of limited print runs!

Marvel's Recent Annihilation Vol 1 HC is climbing in value on eBay...

This btw was a GREAT little mini-series!

As is Morrison's run on New X-men

This is funny because it's almost a testament to how little attention the Cult of Morrison pays to Previews...

Finally, the reigning champ of Quick Increasing in Value Hard Cover Collections - The Eternals Omnibus!

Now here are my picks for things I *think* will be out of print soon...

The Daredevil Omnibus by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

I really think this book has a lot of promise for increasing in value as 1) Frank Miller's fan base will probably increase as he continues to do movies and 2) Marvel will probably do another Daredevil movie one day.

My next pick is cheaper than the Daredevil Omnibus, so it might be a better bet for selling out...

The Brubaker run on Captain America

Finally, my off the wall bet is this little gem that was recommended to me by Chris Sims at the ISB...

I picked that one because its cheap AND its Kirby. It's also a kick ass collection of comics! The Kirby fans are driving the price of the Eternals Omnibus up, so I'm guessing the same thing will happen with this collection eventually.

Feel free to speculate... :D

Monday, December 3, 2007

Zcult AfterMath Screenshots

First a quick update on my problem with PullBoxOnline:
A reader pointed out last week that the screenshot I posted showed the charge was pending and maybe I would get my comics once the payment was approved by BankOfAmerica. Well, by this latest screenshot, you can see the payment was approved.

However, I still have not gotten the Pullbox email with the link to the comics OR a reply to my request for help email.

TakeAway 1: Pullbox Online Sucks.

Meet the New Zcult...

Check out the current list of comic torrents on Zcult now that they are abidding by the DC/Marvel Cease and Desist letters...Quite an interesting assortment of titles to say the least.

What I think is telling is that according to Serj, the admin at Zcult, he had 74K registered users of ZCult. That number does not include the number of people who accessed the torrents via direct links to the trackers OR referrals from other Torrent-Tracker sites...

It will be interesting to see what this newly established audience of comic downloaders does now that it is harder to find Marvel/DC comics in easy to read cbr format. Will they stop reading cbr comics altogether or move on to other titles?

I suspect that a large majority of them are going to download and try out some of the comics they've never heard about. It'll be interesting to see what happens then.

Also notable was the huge amount digital ink that the Zcult situation generated. Over the past 2 weeks, I think Zcult has gotten more press coverage than it has in its entire existence. Over at Newsarama, the various threads discussing the situation went on for pages and pages.

TakeAway2: It's safe to say we've come a long ways from the days when such a topic would have just resulted in a small handful of posters saying, 'I just want to read my comics in paper format...' The age of the Digital Comic Readership is definitely here.

Meanwhile, what's going on with a.b.dcp?

Well, here's a screenshot of the dcp newsgroup's posts from last week. I've just filtered on those files ending in .cbr. Looks like the group is still alive and kicking hard.

And if that wasn't enough, other people have taken to posting the dcp scans to other groups. Here is a screenshot of files ending in .cbr in the a.b.boneless group.

TakeAway 3: Two people scanned Scooby-Doo? That should definitely say something about the number of scanners around the globe. :D

And finally, the screenshot to end them all..

Here is the torrent site that laughs at cease and desist orders: Pirate Bay. On their site, they actually have a link to all the cease and desist orders they've gotten from various companies. I don't know exactly how they are able to operate so brazenly, but there you go.

TakeAway 4: I don't see illegal comics downloading abating until legal comics downloading is a reality.


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