So, Warren Ellis put this up on his blog, and I just think it really deserves a read if you care about comics, print, digital, web or serialized, or otherwise:
"The Broadcast of Comics."
Sometimes you just need to hear things, or maybe some things just sound enough like good news, to inspire just a little bit of hope. And I've been so... frustrated lately, with my own work, mostly, that this just hit me right, hit me at a good time. I feel so much like web comics are treated as a passing fad, and in weird sort of way it was actually the for-free comics on the internet that got me through the doldrums of my last year of high school more than their paper-based alternatives. And while I won't claim to be as... forward thinking as Ellis is about these things, but I do think part of my weird... stand-offishness when it comes to digital comics might have root in some of the things Ellis talks about.
But that can't, of course, be all. I'm just not sure, and I keep reading it, and thinking about it. I don't know.
Justin and I talked recently. As you know, we've been on a long adventure with our 52 page comic book "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name." To speak for Justin as much as I'm comfortable doing, I feel like working on the book has been a pretty present thing in his really busy life, and yet in our weekly get-together he said he was looking realistically at reaching the end soon. That is a strange thought, that it might actually be finished soon, and what the world will look like without it as a finished project seems kind of mystifying to me, as I imagine it must to Justin. The honest fact is, sometimes comics happen fast, and sometimes they don't, and I don't feel like a lot of excuses are necessary.
A lot has happened over the past couple years, and I find myself wondering what would have happened had we taken the web comic approach. I'm fairly sure Justin wouldn't have cared for the idea, but I wonder if a page going up on the web, for free, even intermittently over that time, might have generated some interest in the thing we'll finally end up printing. Thinking about it, that might not have been the best idea for a project like this one - especially as Justin has looked at so much of the work as practice, and especially since so much of that script was such a mess [and I am still glad I got to take a second run at the last half].
I suppose it would depend on who I'm collaborating with, but I think if I was going to do anything quite so long with someone, I might at least float the idea of putting it up free, a page at a time, on the internet. I wouldn't be disappointed if whoever I'm working with turned this down, I just can't help but wonder, as an experiment, if that might be workable, and interesting for people. I think the general wisdom with web comics is that two years is about how long it takes to get rudimentary exposure [thanks Cheri], barring some amazing act of god or Penny Arcade. So for a longer piece, even if it was something you were just going to take down once you committed to actually selling it - starting as a web comic might be an interesting tactic.
There are also many intangibles. The mind boggles.
I have been writing a little bit, playing with a character from VHS Generation, the short comic Ander Sarabia and I are going to do. But my output is still not consistent, and I already have several book reviews I need to get through. I just... really want to get back to creating, to writing creative things, and telling stories, and do so with some regularity. I am unsure how to whip myself into shape, and I still feel, physically, run down from these allergies. Still, I remember when that wouldn't stop me, not even slightly slow me down. I know it's not age, so it must be laziness. And I kind of find this unacceptable of me.
Speaking of Ander, the Blackest Terror book he's working on with the talented Eric Esquivel for Moonstone continues to get press, excitingly enough on Newsarama this time, where Eric gave an interview about the project and the string of other comics to follow it. It's very exciting - I always looked at being interviewed for anything as a sign that you'd really made it [after all, I grew up in Wizard's heyday], and I just wanted to give it a proper plug, as it's not too late to order a copy at your local comic shop.
While I'm plugging things, oft-linked friend John Wiswell has two of his best - "Sologamous" and "Kill Mommy" on Untied Shoelaces with audio readings added to them. [Also on the Randall Nichols list of signs that you've really made it is having someone else read your work aloud, something that to me screams the same thing that having your work read aloud in class meant in our pre-teen years - that you've done something truly exceptional.] What's great is, if you've been unwilling to try out John's Bathroom Monologues out of fear that driving while reading might cause you to smear your lipstick or spill piping hot Egg McMuffin all over yourself, you can now just download the audio to your mobile device. No excuse now.