Today’s pair of links about digital comics.
• David Brothers, who generally has a very aggressive stance regarding moving into digital, pisses off comics retailers by suggesting day and date would not really hurt shop sales:
The entire industry is in flux, the Big Two are trying to figure out what still sells, and digital comics are subject to that upheaval. How is it going to shake out? I don’t know, and I’m not even qualified to guess. Maybe digital comics will find an entirely new market. Maybe the entire industry will collapse. I don’t know. But the dental floss analogy is damaging. It positions digital comics as something ephemeral, worthless in the face of the might of the Direct Market. That’s great for the self-esteem of retailers, but how are consumers supposed to take that? Doesn’t that suggest a lack of faith in the format? It’s like falling dominoes: publisher expresses a lack of faith in the format, doesn’t pursue the format aggressively enough, consumer notices that lack of faith and doesn’t embrace the format, and the format fails.
I agree of course, but the numbers I’ve seen are still modest. What will be the digitally native comic that really pushes things?
• Meanwhile, Matt Seneca looks at the same question in a Balboa-like expedition to the bleeding edge of comics storytelling:
We’re deep into what will become the history of webcomics at this point, with a readership for the comics medium’s online format that soundly eclipses even the best selling Diamond-distributed Wednesday books. Deal with it, folks — not only will the adventures of the Doom Patrol and the Agents of Atlas, if not necessarily Batman and Wolverine, be digital-exclusive by the end of the decade, so too will a large part of the interesting new alt- and art-comix work. It’s already started: Dash Shaw’s Pantheon-published print version of BodyWorld might be hanging off those Borders shelves now, but you could read the thing free online for like a year before that.
Seneca’s discussion centers on formalists in the Shaw mode: Connor Willumsen, David Gray, and the Bret Easton Ellis for the bunch, Blaise Larmee. None of them are producing anything that will go on your iPhone — all these examples rely on the scrolling natures of the web browser, so maybe the iPad. They are abstract in some cases, but affecting. And they aren’t like “traditional” webcomics at all.
Larmee was recently the subject of a controversial TCJ interview where he came off as churlish and egotistical:
Larmee: I insist on staying in the present moment. 2001 exists, for me, in real time. This is different than Young Lions. For Young Lions I asked myself, “how will I win the Xeric grant?” and every subsequent action was structured toward this specific thing/event. Now my questions change in each panel and are always in relation to my characters and their environment.
Every movement needs a churlish, egotistical frontman. We shall see. I’m just charmed to know I was right about Geocities style becoming retro. WARNING: link leads to loud autoplay music, just like Geocities.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.