It's been a breakout time of late for the 'Digital Comic', with Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Promethea) strongly hinting to the Guardian that he's exploring this new medium for comic storytelling, and Mark Waid (Daredevil, The Flash, Irredeemable) releasing his proof of digital comic teaser, Luther, and then of course there was the major announcement from Marvel at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, of their new digital only imprint, Infinite Comics, also being spearheaded by Mark Waid who is writing the A vs X digital tie-in, Nova -- and then, there's me and Dave, the Ironclad Imagineers. We launched our Digital Comic, the ass-kickingly kick-ass post-apocalyptic, space western, love story, The Legend of Spacelord Mo Fo back in January 2012, after eighteen months of non-stop night and day development... well, many, many weekends anyway as we both had other writing and art gigs. My point being, the Digital Comics landscape is being created right now, and those of us on the frontier are looking to encourage creators with a pioneering spirit to come join us.
|The Legend of Spacelord Mo Fo - Riding the Digital Comic frontier|
A little back story required here. My journey to Digital Comics started after seeing Travis Charest's gorgeous and fun, Spacegirl comic strip which he was releasing panel by panel online. I had been wanting to develop something web-based, with achievable production goals, and zero print costs -- and Spacegirl was just the inspiration I needed.
|You can follow the entire strip at Travis Charest's blog HERE. Printed collection is also available and highly recommended.|
|Finished panels from The Legend of Spacelord Mo Fo, in widescreen format, which we've dubbed, 'Cinegraphic'.|
|The background art in these three panels is from the same piece of background art as the panel shown earlier. To see Part 1 of the opening sequence click HERE|
While work-shopping the opening sequence of panels, Dave happened upon a tutorial on DeviantArt by French artist, Yves "Balak" Bigeral, about the storytelling possibilities of the digital medium.
|If you're going to develop Digital Comics, check out Balak's tutorial first! It's brilliant!|
|First lesson -- don't be afraid to break the rules if it works!|
As far as storytelling goes, what the digital medium does most effectively is give the creator greater control over how their story is revealed to the reader. Traditional comics present a sequence of panels over one or two pages, where the reader is led from panel to panel by the way the panels are presented on the page, and yet, all is revealed in some manner to the reader as soon as they look at them. While creators can time their big reveal moments to the turning of the page, a Digital Comic allows for control of the how and where of every reveal, be it action or dialogue or sound effect. In the same way a reader turns the page of a traditional comic to reveal what happens next, a touch of the screen, or a mouse click if viewing on the PC, advances the digital comic to the next moment in the story.
Having such control however, presents new storytelling challenges for the creator that again differentiates the creative process from the traditional comic. With print costs and page counts no longer such an issue, the question becomes how micro should the storytelling reveals be; every line of dialogue? Every change of facial expression? Every significant action? Well, the answer is going to be decided by each creator, and ultimately by the response from the readers. As a creator, one still needs to deliver a comic that engages and entertains... assuming that's the creator's intent.
And really, that's what this is all about. This is the answer to, "Why Digital?" Three years ago there was no viable digital medium, but the arrival of mobile devices like Tablets, Kindles and Smart Phones, with hi-resolution screens and easy to use functionality, has changed that. Comic creators now have a new medium in which to explore their craft and tell their stories. Will it be the end of the traditional comic? No. Digital Comics aren't about replacing the traditional, but they are a new way in which creators can tell their comic book stories. Will there be an audience? Well, that's up to us as creators. If we produce engaging stories and art, with well conceived uses of the tools the new digital medium provides, then for my money, and Mark Waid's if you've been following the news about his sale of his comic collection, and Marvel's, the evidence of what's been presented so far, says, yes.
Digital Comics are still in their infancy, and there are challenges to consider. What platform do you develop for? How do you reach your audience? How do you make money? How do you keep the bricks and mortar comic book stores on your side? Well, I don't have the answers to those questions, but I'm going to be outlining a few thoughts in the coming Parts II and III of this article.And if I've sparked your interest, then maybe Dave and I will see you on the digital frontier soon!
To see the entire 'Legend of Spacelord Mo Fo' Digital Comic as developed so far, click HERE.
Warning: The Legend of Spacelord Mo Fo is for more mature audiences... well, not for 'kids'. Not sure about the mature part.