Monday, June 30, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Forbidden Worlds

Today's Free Comics are two issues of Forbidden Worlds - a comic that began as a weird adventures anthology, but later would feature the adventures of such characters as Magicman and Herbie, who was created in Forbidden Worlds #73.

[ Forbidden Worlds 12 ]

[ Forbidden Worlds 13 ]


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wowio Goes Global?

What's up with Wowio?
That seems to be a question making it's way around the internet this week.

For those of you just joining us (or perhaps not as knowledgeable of the Digital Comics scene as say, a 14 year boy in the Phillipines) let me answer the question of What is Wowio with this text I appropriated from their FaceBook page...

WOWIO is the only source where readers can legally download high-quality copyrighted ebooks from leading publishers for free.

Readers have access to a wide range of offerings, including works of classic literature, college textbooks, comic books, and popular fiction and non-fiction titles. Mission: Our business goal is to build a company that creates valued relationships between readers, sponsors, and book publishers.

For the larger community, our goal is to dramatically expand access to written works by eliminating economic, geographic, and logistical barriers while also ensuring fair compensation for publishers.

Wowio is similar to Flashback Universe in that all the content on their site is FREE. (And for that reason, I have toyed with the idea of actually moving my content to their site several times...)

The biggest difference is they present their comics in PDF format.

My personal belief is that PDF is a really bad way to distribute Digital Comics. I prefer CBR format.

However, I fully understand why Wowio has chosen this format (I've had several long discussions with representatives from that site about this. ) It boils down to this: PDF format has several built in technological advantages over CBR format that make monetizing the content on the site much easier.

And monetizing content does sound like a worthy cause - especially if the readers still get their comics for free.

Check out what some of these creators are saying they've made off of Wowio...

Steve Horton of Smashout Studios
I’ve been on the site since April 2007, and my company has made almost $28,000 since then, most of which goes straight to the creators I publish.

Chris Cosby of KeenSpot (and other ventures)
I’ve posted WOWIO revenue numbers publicly before for my companies (Blatant Comics/Keenspot), so I have no problem with giving an update on that. Since last August we’ve made $93,624.50 from 186,736 WOWIO downloads.

Bill Williams of LoneStar Press
...I started out on WOWIO in November last year. Since then, we have cleared about $10K on 15,000 free downloads. The best performer over time has been Bill Willingham’s PANTHEON script book. The best performer this quarter was SideChicks #1 which compiles my webcomic of the same name which runs on Graphic That material is what the Zuda books will look like when they ever hit print.
WOWIO far out-performs sites like Drive Thru Comics which is a pay-per-download site. I think that WOWIO has proven that giving away ad-supported books works better as a business model than the pay per download sites.

Those number are pretty impressive!

I think things are can only improve for Wowio if they really go global!

So would I ever consider putting Flashback Universe material on Wowio?
Definite maybe.

Based on my current poll, there are quite a few people who read comics in PDF format. If moving to that format allowed me and Pierre (and all the other Flashback creators...) to continue doing what we love to do, but get paid more for it, I would almost have to do it.

Still, as a purist, I probably would continue to publish some comics in CBR format. The idea I'm currently toying with is to create a new line of comics for other venues (Zuda, Wowio, etc) and continue the Flashback Universe as a CBR only site.

I would be happy to hear what other people think about all this.

- Jim

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Comics VS DVDs

I used to go to the comic store every week to get the new comics that came out ... heck sometimes I would go twice a week or more, and I would go to multiple comic stores some weeks.

Now I pretty much stopped going to the store every week. Heck it often takes a month or two before I even visit a comic store.

When I bought my first DVD player.... what was a comic addiction pretty much became a DVD addiction.

My dose of excitement that I used to get from comics, I started to get from movies/DVDs instead.

Movies like X-Men 1, 2 and 3. Spider-man 1 and 2 (3 was..... hugh... I can't even find the words). Blade 1 and 2 (once more, the third left me.... speechless). Even the DD film had a few sequences that weren't bad. The Incredibles (damn that was good). And of course..... the Phantom. ;)

Heck the Matrix 3 gave us the best Superman VS Zod sequence never made. It showed us what could be possible in a possible new Superman movie. Sadly what we got was not even close to match that sequence. :(

Even movies like Underworld, Equilibrum, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, filled that need for excitement, action, adventure that comics used to fill.

And lets not forget the AWESOME Batman, Superman, Batman Beyon, and Justice League animated series.

The one advantage that comics had, being able to have unlimited ammount of special effects at no extra cost, pretty much dissapeared in recent years in most comics.

Now most comics feel more like most sci-fi TV series (ex; Smallville). Most sci-fi TV series will usually be about 42 minutes of talking heads, and at most 2 minutes (often as little as 30 seconds) of special f/x. The reason is pretty simple.... money. TV series don't have enough budget to have much special f/x. So they are very limited to the amount of f/x they can have in a TV show. Which is why most sci-fi TV series are little more then an hour of talking heads.

I can't help myself but scratch my head at why some creators limit themselves in such a way when making comics?? They have unlimited possibilities.... unlimited resources.... but too many of them limit themselves to talking heads?? They impose to themselves the same limitation that TV series have for no other reason then..........


I don't get it.

Also you can now get some pretty good DVDs for 5$. 5$ for 2 hours worth on entertainment and that is without taking into account the extras on a DVD. Kind of difficult for comics to compete against that.

You can get an entire season of X-Files or Smallville for 20$. 20$ for about 8 hours of entertaiment, sometimes more with the extra features. Other then the Essentials and Showcases, not many comics can match that. But many people aren't willing to read black and white comics. And the color equivalent like the Omnibus can be very expensive. Around $100 in some cases. And in some cases they are printed on cheap newsprint.

So how can comics compete with DVDs??

I don't think I have the answer...... yet. ;)

We shall see.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bulletman goes to the Dogs!

Do you like BulletMan?
Do you like Dogs?

Well, buddy, are you in luck! Today's free comics just so happen to be two back to back issues of BulletMan that ALSO feature stories with dogs in 'em!

[ Bulletman 09 ]

...issue 10 is the introduction to Bulletdog!

[ Bulletman 10 ]


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: What Steve Thinks

The Man Behind VistaNow I know when I come out screaming about the demise of printed comics, it's easy to dismiss my doomsaying as the simple ravings of some nameless peon, because in the big scheme of things, who am I, and why should you value my opinion?

Good point. So, who's opinion would you value?

How about Steve Ballmer, the new number one guy at Microsoft? Seems Steve doesn't think printed media will last very long either...

According to Steve...

In the next 10 years, the whole world of media, communications and advertising are going to be turned upside down -- my opinion.

Here are the premises I have. Number one, there will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form.

But Jim! That's Steve Ballmer - what does he know about Print Media? (or good operating systems for that matter...)

See What Money Can Do?Good Question! You're right - to really get a good feel for what the future for Print Media is, you should ask one of the leading authorities on print media, hm...say someone like multimedia mogul Rupert Murdoch...well, as it turns out, Murdoch isn't big on the future of print media either...

This is what Jon Fine, the media reporter for BusinessWeek, had to say about Murdoch's answer to a question abut the future of print media...

When pressed he said that papers had to adjust expectations -- that 30% profit margins were shrinking to 10%, and some may not even survive. News Corp. withdrew a bid for Tribune's (TXA) Newsday, he said, because "I got scared." I was left thinking, good grief. If Rupert Murdoch is writing off a major segment of the American newspaper industry, it's truly time to shut off the lights.

Okay, so you can dismiss me, but can you so easily dismiss Steve Ballmer and Rupert Murdoch?

Why yes, Jim, of course we can. Those guys don't know anything about comicbooks. Comics are doing jusssst fine!

Really? Then why is TokyoPop (who has been heralded as the *Savior!* of comics for the last 5 years) axing pretty much its entire print line and going all digital?

From Heidi MacDonald's The Beat comes this report of TokyoPop's new digital strategy..

...but essentially, nearly all of Tokyopop’s future books will be going straight to web. This wasn’t a case-by-case scenario. Neither I nor any other single creators were singled out. It looks like the whole line of non-licensed material will cease printing and be promoted online only.

But Jim! That's just Manga. We all knew that crap was just a fad anyway, right? American Comics are still selling better than ever!

Why Yes, I am Recycling this graphic...Apparently not - seems that even with Final Crisis 1 (a complete trainwreck) and Secret Invasion 2 to bolster the ranks, that comic books sales were actually DOWN 6% from last May (again from the Beat)

And while everyone is slapping Marvel on the back with the success of Secret Invasion, ONE sharp eyed Beat commenter (Ranald) noticed the same thing I did...

One thing no-one seems to have commented on is the steep 27.1% drop in Secret Invasion sales between the first and second month. For reference, Civil War recorded an 2.7% drop and WWH had a 12.9% drop.

Yes, Secret Invasion is selling better than Final Crisis, but the thing that the pundits have been predicting is coming to pass, and that is the relentless Crossover Events both companies have been relying on to bolster sales were a road to diminishing returns, and they are finally losing momentum. Soon, it's going to be Atlantis Attacks all over again.

So what are they going to do when the Events don't work anymore?

Finally this last little tidbit - you can probably guess that I was upset last week when Steve Jobs didn't come out with an iTablet. Still, a few days after that, I got an email from someone who has listed ways to make the Amazon Kindle more useful. While it ain't an iTablet, these tips make the thing sound a lot more sexy then it did initially. Check it out...

Hack Your Kindle: 100+ Tips, Resources, and Tutorials to Get More Out of the Amazon Kindle

PCDW Point's Round Up:

Ballmer's prediction: 10,000
Murdoch's prediction: 15,000 (he gets +5,000 for the nice Arm Candy)
TokyoPop's print purge: 20,000
Comic Sales Down in May: 5,000

Have a great weekend! I'll see you at HeroesCon Saturday!

I'll be at the Bar at the Westin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Go check out Comicpocalypse

Fans of Digital Comics should go check out the latest podcast from the guys at Comicpocalypse!

Here's how they describe this latest examination of comics in the Digital Age

It's comic books meets the Matrix--except no black trenchcoats or bad sequels or Keanu Reeves or all those little green numbers--as Comicpocalypse examines comics in the digital age.

Jakob Brewster talks with Comic Book Resources' featured blog, Comics Should Be Good, head honcho Brian Cronin and discusses blogging about what makes a good comic.

And then Star Wars Action News's Arnie Carvalho argues for digital comics in a special guest segment. He also reviews Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited and other online comic sites.

I was really impressed with this podcast - and not just because they mentioned Flashback Universe (though that helped) but because they really pointed out a flaw in the Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited site than no one has talked about.

Go check out the podcast and see what I mean! :)

- Jim

Monday, June 16, 2008

Free Comics Monday: Smash Comics

Well, if you woke up this morning wondering where you could download a comic featuring a robot wrestling an alligator, you came to the right place!

[ Smash Comics 05 ]

And here's something you don't see very often - a comic featuring a hero called Abdul The Arab. That's a name usually reserved for the guy fighting against Ric Flair, isn't it?

[ Smash Comics 07 ]


Friday, June 13, 2008

Kinkos No More

It's rare that I do autobiographical blog posts, but here's one...

This week, FedEx is ditching the name Kinko's for the more all-encompassing "Office." For many Indy comic guys, Kinko's has been a home away from home, so it's sad to see the name fall away like this.

This represents the end of an Era, and is of particular interest to me because I originally got my start in the digital world by working in Kinko's DTP (desktop publishing) as a typesetter because...wait for it...I could type!

Back then, typing was a skill that was hard to find. Now 12 year old girls types 50 words a minute on their friggin RAZRS! :DDD

Anyway, I started as a typesetter on a b/w macintosh with a...wait for it again...20 meg hard drive. Yes. 20 MEGs. Not Gigs. (A gig hard drive was something we couldn't even conceive of back then.)

Kinko's was supposed to be a *day job* that I took while I worked on my writing career. (I had been cleaning dishes for $2.81 at a local cafeteria, and the thought of making $5.00 an hour was AWESOME to me.)

As it turned out, I really enjoyed the kinko's environment. The free thinking *we can do anything* principles of kinko's in the early days were very cool and customers were always very appreciative when we helped them out with their projects. I spent many late nights helping out some guys from the government, or a law firm, or Indy comics guy with a big project they needed for the next day.

And while we didn't make a lot, it wasn't uncommon to collect big tips from these customers. :D Hm...we also ran *freebie* jobs for local restaurants sometimes, which usually netted us free pizzas or meals from said restaurants. Our manager, was cool with it because he felt it was a way to reward us for the good jobs we were doing. (And a way to ensure all the co-workers stayed on site when we were slammed at the counter.)

When I started at kinkos, you could wear jeans. The guy who interviewed me, Jimmy Trentanove, he was wearing a Led Zepplin T-shirt. We were definitely still living the Paul Ofala hippy copyshop dream. :)

During my years there, it changed to a more formal work environment. This was good because we got health insurance, 401Ks and Profit Sharing. To this day, of all the places I've worked, Kinko's always had the best profit sharing plan because it was monthly. Being monthly, it really showed you the impact of what your actions were.

I eventually left when I was offered a job at a small digital color photo lab that needed a Mac operator to print large color prints. At the time I thought the freedom of a small mom and pop place was what I wanted, but it really turned out badly.

I then bounced to another company where I made scorecards for golf courses. You can see some samples on my website

While working for the golf company, I started teaching myself html. - I really took to html and from there my career exploded. Getting involved in the web has been the most empowering thing for me in my whole life. I recommend it to everyone! :)

And now you know...the rest of the story. :D

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Fan Films

Once in a while, you will find on the net something awesome that someone did. I would like to share with you a few of those awesome things. Although most are from a few years ago.... there are some who may not have seen them yet.

Let's begin with Batman: Dead End

The best Batman movie ever. Hard to believe that someone with barely any money was able to make something infinitely better then anything the big studios ever did. The director managed to give us the REAL Batman as opposed to the other takes on the character with rubber suits and nipples. And it even features some surprise opponents (no I wil not spoil it here... go watch it).

The same director also did the World's Finest trailer with Batman and Superman.... although World's Finest is also great, Dead End is by far my favorite of the two.

Then there is Grayson.

An awesome trailer of a movie that I wish we could see someday featuring Dick Grayson the original Robin. This trailer also give us various guest stars (once more... no spoilers... go watch it). Once again hard to believe that someone with such a microscopic budget was able to make such an awesome trailer. My favorite fan film yet.

Then there is Heroes.

An awesome Clerk's parody featuring some Marvel characters. Heck I would say that it was infinitely better then the Clerk's cartoon. Lots of fun to watch.

And finally Icewind Dale.

A short animated line test that I saw online by pure luck. Being a fan of the Icewind Dale trilogy of novels featuring Drizzt Do'Urden, the most famous Drow in the Forgotten Realms. Once again, something done with limited ressources was infinitely better then what was produce for the Dragonlance DVD.

Such gems are wayyyy too good not to share with everyone.


Until next time.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

Check out Mister Crimson

Mr Crismon I want to take a break from Paper Comic DeathWatch post today, since Heidi MacDonald seems to have done a good job covering this weeks omens of doom, and direct your attention to Mister Crimson!

Mister Crimson is a Zuda entry by artist Diego Tripodi, who was the artist on the Terrorsaur Rexx Backstory.

Fans of genre bending old school comics will get a big kick out of this comic!

Mister Crimson is the story of a pulp-era superhero that has been abducted through time. Taken from the 1930s, and sent 200 years into the future he is forced to take up fisticuffs against a rebellion that hopes to overthrow the city's leaders.

Mister Crimson is used to scraping his knuckles on shifty criminal types-- but here, he is forced to take on mutants and cyborgs who have powers that match his own. But Crimson was selected for this task specifically. His futuristic handlers know that in a word, he is unbreakable.

Fighting criminals has always been Crimson's bag-- but soon he realizes this future is not what it seems. The city leaders are corrupt, and those mutants and cyborgs that have been branded as malcontents, are actually fighting the just cause. Does Crimson join them?

Or does he continue to fight for the men who have the ability to send home?

Crimson left the past at the worst possible moment. His arch-nemesis, Ace of Spades, had finally deduced his secret identity, and kidnapped Crimson's wife and son.


Crimson had found Ace, and their final encounter had just begun when Crimson was snatched into his future.

Mister Crimson faces his biggest dilemma. Does he quell the rebellion, and earn his ticket back in time to save his family?

Or does he do what he has always done-- fight the good fight to protect the innocent? Even for a man that has no limits to his strength and invulnerability, this adventure could break him.

Flashback Fans:

I encourage fans of Flashback Universe to go and check out the Mister Crimson on Zuda and vote for it!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pierre Speaks: Thoughts on Secret Invasion

It seems that life is a cycle.

After a few decades, you can actually "see" the cycle. You can see people repeat what has been done before. Sometimes they will repeat something that they loved. Or sometimes they will have no clue that what they are doing has been done before and before and before.

Wayyyyy too many times do I have to explain to someone that what seems "new and original" to them, has been done thousands of times before.

I would say that it is worse to repeat the past out of ignorance then when you are trying to recapture the feeling of a time long since past. But maybe that is just me.

But sometimes, it is difficult to tell if something is repeated as an homage to what has come before. or just out of ignorance of what came before.

How can we tell the difference, I have to admit that other then to ask the person "you know this has been done before?", I am not sure how you can tell the difference for certain.

Let us look at an example.

Secret Invasion (Although with the last page of the second issue, I fail to see how "secret" this invasion is).

To many, this storyline might seem "fresh and original". But to an old warhorse, it is difficult not to feel like we already have seen this before...

... and before...

... and before...

... and before...

... and before, and countless other times that I fail to mention.

Although this time Secret Invasion (heck and Civil War) seems to be repeating/reusing the plot of the "Confession" story from Astro City. Although in a verrrrrryyyyy decompressed way. I guess that is part of the problem to me.

Not only are they reusing a story that has been done countless times before, they are reusing a plot that was brilliantly executed in 6 issues, and they are stetching it over 2 years in countless of comics.

When I saw the Elektra reveal, it reminded me of two things.


... and this.

The one by Byrne was not that big a reveal. It was planted in the issue before that Skrulls were pursued by Gladiator. So it was... not obvious... but likely that some Skrulls would be revealed in this story.

For the Astro City one, once again all the clues were planted in the preceding issues, but in a subtle enough way that it made this a powerfull reveal at the time. Althought the clues were there early on, it was subtle enough that the reader did not realise that this actually was an invasion story untill the end of issue 8 (possibly issue 7).

And once you get the reveal that it is actually an invasion story. Pretty much all the pieces fall into place and you can go back and read the previous issues with a new perspective in mind. Now THAT was a "secret invasion".

But the Elektra reveal seemed to come out of nowhere. And even then when word came out of a big reveal in the pages of New Avengers....... wayyyyyyy too many people saw that reveal come a mile away. And I was one of those scratching their heads wondering..... "This is the big reveal?? Why?? What makes this so special compared to the thousand times the Skrulls tried to invade Earth??"

Some would say that it is because it follows Civil War. But if it turns out that the Skrulls were actually behind Civil War as once again wayyyyyyy too many people suggested at the time (although most would say that sarcastically), imagine if they turn out to be right after all.

Apparently all the clues have been laid out for this "Secret Invasion". Not having read that many Secret Invasion related titles, I might have missed at least some of those clues if not most of those clues.. So that might actually be my own fault for not reading enough comics. ;)

Although I did see a clue (although one that I am sure Bendis never intended to be one since he seems to ignore pretty much everything that he did not write himself) in an "old" FF comic.I found this gem while re-reading some awesome FF comics by Marv Wolfman, John Byrne and Joe Sinnott.

I would like to think that this was the seed that gave birth to "Secret Invasion". But I would be surprised if there was any reference to this scene in Secret Invasion. Chances are that Bendis does not even know this scene exists. Will the lack of reference be caused by ignorance?? or just simply because Bendis has decided to simply ignore it??

Only one way to know for sure...

... maybe we should ask him. ;)

Free Comics Monday: Unknown Worlds

Today I present a public domain comic with a Caveman fighting a Nazi!

[ Unknown Worlds 07 ]

[ Unknown Worlds 08 ]



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