WhistlesFirst it was just a few renegades like Phil Foglio and Carla Speed McNeill. Now it’s even publishers like Slave Labor who are ditching paper. SLG announced their first digital only comics, WHISTLES by Andrew Hussie, the tale of an “abused clown driven to senseless violence” that should appeal to the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac crowd. SLG had previously been experimenting with digital delivery of some of their regular titles, but WHISTLES is the first to go completely digital. Readers can download it for $0.89. A preview can be veiwed here.

It’s worth noting that Slave Labor is an indie comics publisher that’s survived a lot of ups and downs in the business without a lot of drama–this move, small as it is, is certainly significant in its own way. Will these first digital-only comics someday take their place beside DAZZLER #1 and CAMELOT 3000 as books that changed the comics industry forever? And no, we didn’t mean that as a snarky comment: DAZZLER was the first mainstream comic distributed just to the direct sales market (it sold 400,000 copies) and CAMELOT 3000 was the first deluxe limited series.


Whistles the Clown is the beloved one-time star of the Starlight Calliope circus. Lithe, innocent and full of joy, Whistles loves his job as much as he loves the circus’s ringmaster, Master Pendlecoat. He never suspects there are dark secrets in the Starlight Calliope until an unfortunate accident with a clown fire truck forces him to confront the gruesome truth. Still, nothing can sway Whistles’ devotion to his Master, not even the prospect of being turned into a meal or being forced to accept the life of a gigolo to support himself. Meanwhile, sedition brews at the Starlight Calliope. Can the new star Gumblin and the rest of the clowns count on Whistles to help them in their revolution? Or will Whistles’ undying love for Pendlecoat continue to blind him to his master’s sinister, murderous nature?

Whistles, SLG’s new comic book series, is the first published work of creator Andrew Hussie. Whistles’ story had simple beginnings–Hussie originally planned it as a two-page gag comic. “The nature of the story was very much to serve as a vehicle for silly and twisted jokes about clowns,” Hussie said. “But through its evolution, it has accumulated the elements of a dramatic story, with deeper character relationships, emotional conflicts, and dare I say, even traces of poignancy.”

SLG sees Whistles as a comic for its core fans. “Whistles has that dark-and-funny thing going on for it. It will appeal to fans of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, but Andrew definitely has his own vision,” said SLG’s editor-in-chief Jennifer de Guzman. “On the one hand, Whistles is an abused clown driven to senseless violence, but his naïveté makes him loveable. And it is touching, as Andrew says. Whistles is very human in his love for the circus and his desire to be loved.”

Whistles will be SLG Publishing’s first digital only comic book. Having recently made news by releasing some of its printed comics in digital format, SLG will be taking what it considers to be the logical next step by serializing Whistles as downloadable-only comics, following with a print version of the comics in graphic novel format being made available to the book trade and direct markets in the late spring. Readers will be able to read Whistles this October, when SLG offers the first issue on their webstore. A short preview will also be available at their website. The issues will cost $0.89 and will be available in CBZ and PDF formats. Each issue will include an ad for the first Whistles trade paperback. A preview of Whistles #1 is available now at www.slgpublishing.com.


  1. Good luck to Slave Labor! I think it’s great. As far as I’m concerend the more comics are everywhere, the better. I don’t see this as “either / or”, I see this as, “also / and”.