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ON AND ON AND ON RUSSELL WILLIS • EDITOR
The* new* year* saw* Panel* Nine* produce* and* David* Fickling* Comics* publish* the* iPad* version* of* The$ Phoenix* –* a* kids’* weekly* comic* available* in* the* UK* through* comic* shops,* book* stores* and* supermarkets.* This*seemed* a*bit*strange* for*me,* as*my* interest*in* comics* has* nearly* always* been* related* to* the* soMcalled* ‘literary* graphic* novel’.* But* the* fact* is* that* The$ Phoenix* is* just* a* brilliant* comic* per* se* (see* for* yourself* with* the* free* sample* in* this* issue)* and* in* Britain,* at* least,* it* is* vitally* needed* to* get* kids* reading* comics.* Without*gateway*drugs*like*The$ Phoenix,*fewer*people*will* be*reading*work*by*Mary*and*Bryan*Talbot...
Speaking* of* whom,* January* saw* some* fabulous* news* for* BriEsh* comics*with,* the* Talbots*winning*a*major*literary*prize*in*the* form* of*the*Costa*Biography*Award*for*Dotter$of$Her$Father’s$Eyes.*Also* nominated*was*Days$of$the$Bagnold$Summer,*my*favourite*graphic* novel* of* 2012,* by* Joﬀ* Winterheart.* (Both* published* by* Jonathan* Cape*in*the*UK). * And*just*as*we*were*about*to*release*this*issue,* Glyn* Dillon’s* The$Nao$ of$Brown* won* the* Special* Prize* at* Angoulême,* and* Jon* McNaught* won* the* Newcomer* prize* with* Dockwood...* Britain* is* ‘punching* above* its* weight’,* as* the* diplomats* like* to* say,* when* it* comes*to*comics*for*the*cognoscenE!
LITERARY GRAPHIC NOVELS FOR THE MASSES, NOW!
It*all*augurs*well*for*our*main*project*of*2013,* which*is*to*set*up*a* new* company* to* release* a* special* storefront* for* deluxe* digital* versions*of*‘literary*graphic*novels’.*We’ve*been*working*with*some* fabulous* publishers* on* agreements* to* have* their* books* available* through*Panel*Nine.*The*storefront*will*be*marketed*to*the*type*of* people* who* would* read* and* love* the* work* of* Posy* Simmonds,* Marjane* Satrapi,*Art*Spiegelman,* Alison*Bechdel,*Raymond*Briggs,* Bryan* Talbot* et* al.* This* target* audience* would* never* think* of* themselves*as*comics*readers,*let*alone*visit*a*comic*shop,*digital*or* otherwise.*Watch*this*space! ∞ ENDS ∞
Cover ILYA Editor Russell*Willis email@example.com Contributors ILYA Garen*Ewing Sean*T*Collins John*Innes PJ*Holden PM*Buchan Chloë*MarEn Hayden*Hughes John*GraGan Nick*Dawkins Publisher Panel*Nine
Published*biMmonthly.* This*app*©*iEnglish.com*Ltd. Contents*©*individual*copyright*holders. Volume323•3Issue3#33•3February32013.* This*is*issue*#3*of*the*new*INFINITY,*a* magazine*about*digital*comics*and*more.* Please*email*inquiries*about*contributions* to*the*address*above.
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RADAR A Roundup of Digital Comics News KYLE BAKER PUTS GRAPHIC NOVELS ONLINE FOR FREE Kyle Baker, a comics master and formative influence in the development of the graphic novel, has made his creator-owned work available to read for free online. Titles include The Cowboy Wally Show, Why I Hate Saturn, Special Forces, and Nat Turner. Baker has yet to give a reason for the move. Baker’s debut graphic novel, The Cowboy Wally Show, was one of the first post-Maus standalone graphic novels, appearing in 1990. Its humorous story of a manic kids’ entertainer was followed up by Why I Hate Saturn, a social satire about dating in the 90s. Cory Doctorow describes Baker as an ‘astounding, amazing, brilliant’ comics creator and advises his readers to run, not walk, to the site. Although the strips are not presented particularly well on the site, we can only agree. See: Kyle Baker’s website • Wikipedia entry COMIXOLOGY SETS UP PARIS OFFICE, DOES DEAL WITH DELCOURT Digital comics behemoth Comixology has shown its internationalism by setting up a Paris office as part of a move to offer non-English-language comics content. France has a thriving comics industry, comparable in size to that of the US. Its first European partner is French publisher Delcourt, a company with 17.4% of the French comics market. See: Full story at The Beat • Delcourt’s website CONTINUES ➤
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News Roundup IVERSE MOVES FORWARD WITH LIBRARY SOLUTIONS iVerse is expecting to finally launch its service for libraries in the first quarter of this year, according to a still-indevelopment site that iVerse has now made public. Libraries account for 10% of the US comics and graphic novel market, according to Brodart, a company providing services to US libraries. iVerse’s original announcement from last April noted that the service will allow libraries
PETER BAGGE GETS CREEPY WITH DARK HORSE DIGITAL Jim Warren’s classic horror anthology, Creepy, has been revived by Dark Horse, and good old Uncle Creepy has acquired a family: sisters, brothers, cousins... The awful antics of the Creepy family are now being depicted by indie favourite Peter Bagge in some delightful one-page strips. See: Full story at Comics Alliance CHLOE NOONAN, MONSTER HUNTER GETS DIGITAL OMNIBUS British comics creator Marc Ellerby has released a digital omnibus of his acclaimed Chloe Noonan strip. Published by Great Beast, it costs £2.99 for 136 pages. See: Great Beast store
to lend comic books for about two weeks. Comics will be able to be read on iOS, Android, PC, and any web browser that supports HTML5. In recent months, more than 250 libraries have been beta testing the service. See: Brodart • iVerse Media CONTINUES ➤
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News Roundup TERRY WILEY’S VERITYFAIR FROM PANEL NINE DUE IN MARCH Terry Wiley has been described by Rich Johnston of popular comics website Bleeding Cool as a ‘true comic book genius’
and by Richard Bruton of Forbidden Planet International as an ‘unheralded star’. His 90s work on Sleaze Castle is admired by the British comics cognoscenti, but his work has yet to break out. ‘We hope to help change that,’ says Russell Willis, publisher at Panel Nine. ‘VerityFair is a unique but superbly accessible tale that has the pull of a soap opera whilst mining issues of psychological depth, and stars a mostly irrepressible fortysomething
actress-cum-fast food worker – possibly the most well-rounded female character in comics today.’ The iPad ‘deluxe digital graphic novel’ contains an 80-page VerityFair story, audio commentaries on nearly every page, production sketches, rare extra strips and illustrations, and an interview with the author. Due out in March, it will be priced at just $4.99. See: Panel Nine website • Rich Johnston on Terry Wiley PHOENIX FOR THE IPAD LAUNCHED British weekly The Phoenix, one of the very few kids’ comics being printed in the UK today, has added an iPad edition – allowing issues to be automatically delivered to readers’ devices each week through Apple’s Newsstand service. Reaction to the launch has been incredibly positive, with luminaries such as Neil Gaiman tweeting to help publicise it, and user reaction has been exceptional – a typical user comment from iTunes reads: ‘The Phoenix Comic is a brilliant weekly read for kids of all ages – great stories matched by excellent art. The digital version has been put together with characteristic care and attention… Can’t recommend this too highly.’ Russell Willis (publisher at Panel Nine, who developed the app) talked about the digital version of The Phoenix with Brigid Alverson at GoodEReader. See: Interview with Russell Willis CONTINUES ➤
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News Roundup DMI CLOSES WHOLESALE OPERATION TO FOCUS ON DIGITAL Digital Manga Inc., a publisher known for manga in the yaoi genre and digital delivery, is to close Digital Manga Direct, its wholesale division. This follows DMI’s announcement in November last year that it is suspending all print publications until June 2013, while continuing to offer digital editions of its publishing list. Digital Manga Direct was created to sell overstocked and returned items at low prices to libraries, conventions and local vendors. The suspension of print for six months was said to have been done to allow the company to focus on building its digital programme. See: Digital Manga Inc. website US SHONEN JUMP DIGITAL RELEASED CONCURRENTLY WITH JAPAN Last year, Viz Media’s version of Japan’s Shonen Jump abandoned print (despite selling over 125,000 copies per week), went digital, and changed its name to Shonen Jump Alpha. Now it is finally catching up with the material released in Japan, and has become simply Shonen Jump. Pop culture industry site ICv2 has an interview with Editor-inChief of the digital magazine Andy Nakatani. See: ICv2
IN BRIEF Mixing comics, journalism and digital, Symbolia launched its first issue in December to some fanfare. Jim Zub, writer of Image-published SkullKickers, posted about the economics of digital comics from a creator’s point of view. In a similar vein, Audra Furuichi wrote about the woes of monetizing webcomics such as Nemu Nemu. Commentator Rob Salkowitz listed some things to watch for in transmedia and digital comics in 2013. The National Cartoonists Society, fresh from recognising webcomics in 2012, will now recognise both short form and long form webcomics for its Reuben awards. Graphicly raised more money from investors and hopes to reach profitability soon. Mike Garley’s Dead Roots is an iPad zombie anthology with top-notch content in a slightly odd Newsstand app. But first-rate art and writing make this essential for horror fans. Atomic Comic is a digital kids’ comic magazine available through Issuu. It features kids’ comics of old (think Vulcan and 40s Beano) and new. Our own PM Buchan has released two horror comics recently, BLACKOUT and La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Visit Phillip’s site for details. Ron Perazza, formerly of DC’s webcomics effort Zuda and (very briefly) Comixology has moved to Marvel to handle their digital publishing initiatives. ∞ INFINITY NEWS DESK ∞
Have you got news for us? If so, please send a press release to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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THE WORD ON DIGITAL COMICS DAVID LLOYD Creator, Kickback, Aces Weekly • Via 3 Million Years
“All those digital motion comics that I’ve seen leave me cold and are neither good animation nor good comic art.” •••
PJ HOLDEN Artist, 2000AD, STRIP Magazine • Via 3 Million Years
“I like digital comics to read, but not to collect – there’s almost no satisfaction knowing I have a digital issue of a comic, over knowing I have a print version.” ••• CY DETHAN Creator, Cancertown • Via 3 Million Years
“It can be painful to read a digital comic that is ill-suited or poorly formatted for the device I’m reading it on. You occasionally find that the people responsible for translating a book from print to digital have given no serious thought to how readable the end product is going to be.”
DAVE GIBBONS Creator, Watchmen, Madefire • Via 3 Million Years
“I see the way to go is the way Madefire are going, which is to make episodes available in the App Store. I think that’s the most convenient and easy way to get access to the material. Something about having to sit in front of a computer monitor doesn’t actually quite feel like a reading experience – while holding a phone or an iPad or some other tablet does feel like that.” ••• RUSSELL WILLIS Publisher, Panel Nine • Via 3 Million Years
“... It’s a dead certainty that the ‘local comics shop’ is going to be hit very hard by digital in the next few years. I’m not that interested in the fate of the superhero market, but I do hope that comic shops see this coming and morph into something that can sustain steadily decreasing sales of print material.”
DANIEL GOVAR Artist, Comic Book Think Tank • Via 3 Million Years
“... You can go beyond the page – do things that print can’t. It’s largely an unexplored area in comics and many are just starting to touch on what digital comics can be.” •••
JOHN FREEMAN Managing Editor, Rok Comics • Via 3 Million Years
“You can do things in print that you can’t do digitally and vice versa. If you are creating a good comic people want to read then the ‘bells and whistles’ as I call them, don’t matter.”
SPECIAL THANKS TO 3 MILLION YEARS FOR THE INTERVIEWS FROM WHICH THESE QUOTES WERE TAKEN.
GOT A QUOTE? Have you come across an interesting quote about digital comics? Then help us out and get in touch: email@example.com – and please include a source!
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“I READ AND REALLY LOVED EDDIE CAMPBELL’S DAPPER JOHN FOR THE IPAD.” – Neil Gaiman
“STELLAR... ALL DIGITALLY RELEASED GRAPHIC NOVELS SHOULD BE GIVEN THIS AMOUNT OF CARE...” – Spandexless
“KICKBACK WORKS BEAUTIFULLY AND LOOKS GORGEOUS. IT WOULD BE A CRIME NOT TO BUY IT.” – Comic Heroes
“THE GOLD STANDARD...” – Four Realities
The Nao of Brown Glyn Dillon Self Made Hero RRP £16.99/$24.95 • No digital edition Reviewed by John Innes Glyn Dillon’s art first reached an audience in the archetypal 1990s comicsand-music magazine Deadline, where he drew a strip called Planet Swerve. Awash with spaceships in the shape of classical Greek sculpture, doped-up aliens and copious genitals, like much of the magazine’s content, what it lacked in
linear storytelling it more than made up for with sheer enthusiasm. While fellow Deadline alumni Jamie Hewlett (Tank Girl, Gorillaz) and Phil Bond (Wired World, Deadpool) continued to work in mainstream comics, Dillon established a career as a storyboard artist. Seventeen years on, The Nao of Brown is Dillon’s first self-written piece, a stunningly beautiful graphic novel which combines the realistic storytelling of European comics with a cinematic sensibility obviously influenced by the artist’s second career. The Nao of Brown tells the story of a young Japanese woman, Nao, living in London, and her friends, loves and obsessions. The book follows her as she lives her life coping with OCD, which leaves her battered with violent, morbid thoughts. In a taxi ride she imagines reaching forward to break the driver’s neck, cycling through the city she mentally ploughs through children playing in the street, working in a toy shop she pictures a scenario in which she stabs a pregnant woman’s swollen belly with a pencil. It’s a testament to Dillon’s writing and expressive art that none of these scenes are anything other than deeply moving. The reader experiences the fear that Nao has of CONTINUES ➤
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Reviews The Nao of Brown rewards re-reading as nods to influences litter the backgrounds of panels, from Hergé and Moebius books on shelves to Nao sporting a piece of early Deadline mechandise, a t-shirt depicting Bond’s Wired World. The greatest recommendation that you can give any book is voting with the cash in your pocket. So far, I’ve bought four copies of the book for comic-loving friends. Every single one of them has loved it. ∞ See: Audio interview with Glyn Dillon by Dan Berry • The Nao of Brown wins Angoulême prize
her own potential for violence. In less subtle hands the character could have been deeply depressing, but Dillon’s delicate style carries the reader with Nao as she searches for peace through meditation, friendship and love alongside a cast of equally well-rounded characters. Punctuating Nao’s story is a surreal Japanese fairytale of a half-man-half-tree boy conscripted into a violent war, which runs parallel to the main story and shares common themes of desire and sacrifice. While the ending feels slightly abrupt, with a jump forwards in time to show the characters four years later, the book does what all good stories do; it leaves the reader wanting to know more. CONTINUES ➤
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My Friend Dahmer Derf Backderf Abrams Comic Arts $11.99 • US iTunes only Reviewed by Sean T Collins In introductions, afterwords and interviews alike, Derf Backderf makes it abundantly clear that his sympathy for Jeffrey Dahmer, his old high school acquaintance and serial killer of young men and boys, ends when Dahmer’s murders begin. By coincidence, so does the
story he tells in this book, pretty much: Dahmer began killing upon graduation from high school, at which point he also dropped out of touch with Backderf and his circle, thus closing Derf’s window on his darkening world. But while My Friend Dahmer abhors Dahmer’s crimes, it also does him and his victims the courtesy of never saying what they are. No body counts; no grim stories of the homophobic cops who returned a nude, wounded underage boy who’d escaped Dahmer’s clutches to his eventual killer before making jokes to their dispatcher about getting de-loused; no gruesome accounts of body-part altars and DIY trepanation attempts. The endnotes in the backmatter deliver the basic facts, but in the comic itself he consigns his old friend’s crimes to the void, perhaps the most empathetic thing he could possibly do with them. The story Backderf chooses to tell is one of uncontrollable urges. At one point he describes them in the purple terms of mass-market true-crime paperback backcover blurbs, as otherizingly and alienatingly as you please: ‘What spawned this perverse sexual hunger? What deep, fetid part of his psyche gurgled up this miscreant desire, so powerfully voracious it immediately devoured him whole?’ But immediately before that he makes the direct connection between Dahmer’s necrophilia and his own irresistible CONTINUES ➤
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adolescent lust for his female classmates, one of whom he draws walking alluringly down the hall in tight jeans, her spherical behind drawing his attention as inexorably as a local jogger commands Dahmer’s far more lethal lust. The girl’s body points to the great strength of Backderf’s resolutely unstylish art. Everyone’s a collection of lumps and bulges, moulded into shape by his thick, blunt ink line. This isn’t the only prominent ass we see drawn this way, as it
turns out – another belongs to Dahmer’s mother, clenched in unflattering highwaisted trousers as she seizures uncontrollably due to a morass of psychological, neurological and pharmaceutical problems. Her trembling, sweat-soaked, jut-jawed body locks into bizarre, almost vogue-like positions, her neck craned upward at a 90 degree angle like a modernist portrait. She’s reduced to her body in these moments. ‘This,’ Backderf writes, ‘is what Jeff came home to.’ Dahmer’s mind rapidly reduces all life to mere bodies; bodies over which he can exert control. In fact, it’s his imitation of his mother’s symptoms (unbeknown to his classmates, who think he’s making fun of someone else) that makes him a legendary character among his classmates. The implicit connection Backderf draws between all these things is that Dahmer couldn’t help how he felt about dead men any more than Derf could help how he felt about pretty girls’ rear ends or than his mother could help having fits. What they all could control is how they responded to them, or to anything else. That’s where Backderf’s real anger is directed: at the choice of Dahmer’s parents to abandon their son – first emotionally and then quite literally, leaving him to live by himself in their house as they went their separate ways following an acrimonious divorce – and at the apparent choice of high-school teachers and ENDS ∞
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Reviews administrators to ignore the heroic quantities of alcohol Dahmer was consuming during the school day to selfmedicate his urges away. The moment his parents left and school ended, even the minor impediment of negligent adults was removed entirely, so the alcohol was no longer enough, and the last few tethers holding Dahmer to sanity snapped. If some adult had cared enough to wrestle those urges to the ground, Backderf
argues, Dahmer’s lonely life would still have been a sad one, but the lives of dozens and dozens of other people would have been far less so. The goal of this book is to lead you to the chasm between the potential and the actual and scream into it. Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, falls the shadow. ∞ (This article first appeared on the author’s blog.)
See: Interview with Derf Backderf
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Tools of the Trade
PROCREATE – A MINI TUTORIAL Procreate is an inexpensive, fast and fun drawing app for the iPad. In this tutorial, I’ll show you one possible way of using it. I like to use Procreate to take traditionally-drawn pen sketches and colour them. In this tutorial, I’ll take the sketch on the left and turn it into the painted picture on the right. (Tap on images with a yellow border to see them full screen.)
This future soldier type was inspired by the great 2000AD character Rogue Trooper.
STARTING OFF Starting with a hand-drawn sketch, the first step in the process is to fire up Procreate and place the sketch within it. On the iPad with cameras this is easily done by taking a photo and inserting it on to the canvas within Procreate. I then scale the image and place it to fill up as much of the canvas as possible. CONTINUES ➤
PJ’s ﬁrst published work was with Fantagraphics in 1997 (Holy Cross #3) with Malachy Coney, and he provided art for a story with Mike Carey from Caliber in 1997. He started working for 2000 AD in 2001 (Judge Dredd ‘SinoMCit’) and has been working professionally since. His subsequent work has included further sEnts drawing Judge Dredd and The 86ers. He has also drawn Rogue Trooper, Johnny Woo, and Tharg’s Future Shocks. Holden broke into the American comic book market with the Image Comics miniM series Fearless. Prior to his comics career he spent 20 years in the IT industry. PJ is on TwiGer and has a blog.
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Tools of the Trade • PJ Holden One benefit to taking a photo rather than, say, scanning the image and cleaning it up on a computer, is that you end up with lots of lovely texture and shading that can really add a lot to the colours. I set the layer with the photo to be a ‘multiply’ and ensure that it sits on top of all the other layers. Multiply layers overlay their colours on all of the lower layers (imagine a slightly see-through print on some acetate placed on top of other art) which means that it can darken colours applied below it, but also that the black line art stays clear.
Procreate allows you to edit many elements of its own brushes as well as create your own. Brushes are made up of two images – the brush shape and the ‘grain’. The combinaIon of these is what gives Procreate its natural media look. My simple ﬂaMng brush is made of a circle for the brush shape plus an untextured square for the grain.
Having placed the layer, I now start with my first colour layer. The technique here is to isolate each element of an image on to its own layer. To do this, I have a simple brush set up that I’ve called the ‘flatting brush’. FLATTING Flatting is the most boring but essential part of this method. I’ll zoom in and out and work the brush at various sizes, deleting paint that moves outside the lines. Creating a layer and flatting each element will allow you later on to select those elements and go nuts with textures, without them spilling out and ruining any other elements. CONTINUES ➤
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Tools of the Trade • PJ Holden Before moving on to the next layer you should now lock the alpha channel. This stops you from drawing outside the painted area. You do this by tapping the little italicised ‘a’ on the layer from the layer drop-down. And remember all of these colour flat layers should be below the line art. (You’ll figure out, as you go, that you don’t always need to be too careful with the lines depending on how you order the layers. I usually build down – creating my layers below each previous flat layer.) Here I’ve flatted the background and added snow – coloured red here purely so I can see it (white would leave me unsure of whether I’d coloured a bit of snow or just forgotten it). With the flatting done I can start the fun process of adding textures. I’ll correct the snow from red to white, and start to build up texture on the background layer.
I tend to use a few speciﬁc tools for textures. Procreate has a bunch of useful defaults as well as sets you can buy for $0.99 each. While I’ll occasionally call on one or two other brushes, the main ones I use are:
BUILDING UP As Procreate allows you to create your own sets of brushes (combining built-in brushes, your own brushes and brushes built from the built-in set but altered), I’ve done that with my most commonly used brushes.
Spla7er – a grungy splaVery eﬀect, part of the Procreate Spraypaint set. Charcoal Block – a thick, charcoalXlike brush tool, part of the Charcoal set. Round Brush – a gloppy brush, part of the PainIng tool set (free). 6B Pencil – part of the Pencil tool set (free).
From here on in, it’s just a matter of selecting layers ENDS ∞
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Tools of the Trade • PJ Holden (which, if you’ve followed along, are actually separate elements of the picture for colouring), applying colours, textures, etc., then moving on to the next layer. FINISHING OFF The final stage usually involves creating a simple layer on top of the line art to allow me to pick out some pure white highlights or, in this case, add some extra detail to the display on his helmet. And that’s it. As with any art app there is no right way; this is just my current methodology and, like most things about drawing, experimentation and change are key.
Procreate costs $4.99 with addiIonal features at $0.99 each
“Like most things about drawing, experimentaIon and change are key.”
Adding final textures and details
Procreate is, at the time of writing, at version 1.6 – version 1.7 promises some great new features including many more layers (currently for high-resolution images it is limited to 16 layers; 1.7 increases that to 28) as well as extra features for easy layer manipulation. Version 1.7 will be a free upgrade if you have 1.6. ∞ Next issue, PJ will be back with more tools of the trade. ENDS ∞
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“Britain’s Greatest Underground Cartoonist!” – 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
• Over 200 pages of Hunt Emerson mania! • 27 individual strips including: the full Leviticus 20 with Alan Moore, the Freak Brothers, Firkin the Cat, Calculus the Cat, Puss Puss and so much more! • Audio commentaries by Hunt • Gallery of illustrations • Gallery of self-portraits • Gallery of covers • Exclusive interview Available for iPad, $9.99. Tap this page to view the app in the App Store.
GOING DIGITAL AWARD-WINNING DIGITAL COMICS? After testing the waters of digital comics for a while now, I set myself what should have been a reasonably simple goal: read iPad versions of some of 2012’s best comics. 2012 was the first year of the British Comic Awards, but as a UK resident I’d already read many of the nominees. The big American awards ceremonies, on the other hand, normally contain an array of obscure titles not readily available in the UK, and that sounds like the kind of problem that should have a digital solution. My methodology wasn’t flawless – I scanned through the winners of Ignatz, Harvey and Eisner Awards in 2012, picked out the ones that appealed most to me and tried to buy digital copies. The Pterodactyl Hunters is billed as ‘a story of sibling rivalry and family tradition in a rapidly By Brendan Leach changing world’, and that’s a Published by Top Shelf pretty succinct description of a through Comixology charming narrative that says a Winner: Ignatz Award for lot about progress and familial Outstanding Comic tensions in a setting that could have degenerated into a joke in lesser hands. The sketchy linework, greytones and even the intimate setting all reminded me of the work of Dan Berry, though Berry’s output is generally more heart-warming. This tale of two competing brothers, hoping to rid New York City of a pterodactyl threat, is a compelling read, but none of the characters stand out as being particularly likeable. Instead this is a poignant story that would have had more punch THE PTERODACTYL HUNTERS IN THE GILDED CITY
PM BUCHAN PM Buchan is the lead comicM book columnist for Starburst magazine and considers himself to be a vocal advocate for the BriEsh comic book industry. When not culEvaEng his obsession with comics he writes novels about the end of the world, watches horror ﬁlms, and reads books about the Manson family. He now sincerely hopes that all his favourite comic creators will announce their plans to create work with the iPad in mind so that he can ditch his colossal collecEon of graduallyM decaying printed material.
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Digital Explorer • PM Buchan if only I’d been able to invest, either positively or negatively, in the characters. Leach is a brilliant illustrator but just a good storyteller, so I’m surprised to see that this won an Ignatz award. My bias towards the British comicbook industry notwithstanding, Pterodactyl Hunters was as good as many small press comics that I reviewed in 2012, but certainly not better.
The Pterodactyl Hunters: full page plus a panel shown in Guided View
Dark Horse Presents won several DARK HORSE PRESENTS #18 awards throughout 2012, and By Various rightly so, because the eclectic and ambitious range of material Published by Dark Horse contained within each issue Winner: Harvey Award for Best would be unlikely to attract Anthology; Eisner Award for enough readers individually to Best Anthology succeed in the direct market of brick-and-mortar comic-book stores. My first thought, when reading the anthology digitally, however, was what an odd stylistic decision Dark Horse have made to shrink their comic pages so that they don’t fill the iPad screen. This annoying waste of space really detracts from their Comixology-defying app! My biggest problem with Dark Horse Presents was that none of the strips gave any concession to new readers, so as soon as one strip ended another would begin on the next page, sometimes CONTINUES ➤
The Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City by Brendan Leach
“Dark Horse Presents won several awards throughout 2012, [with an] eclecIc and ambiIous range of material contained within each issue.”
Dark Horse Presents #18 INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 19 of 57
Digital Explorer • PM Buchan without obvious titles or credits, plunging me midway into a new story without any context or introduction to give me an idea of what I’d missed. First up from Dark Horse Presents is Finder: Third World by Carla Speed McNeil. It’s gorgeous and has a very Spirited Away vibe, but being chapter 16 I found the experience pretty baffling. Gamma by Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas tells the surreal tale of the possible redemption of a coward in a Wild West setting populated by garish Pokemoninspired monsters. Phil Stanford and Patric Reynolds’ Crime Does Not Pay is good enough, in an Ed Brubaker or Greg Rucka vein, that I’ll be looking out for collected editions in future. Caitlin R Kiernan’s Alabaster: Boxcar Tales reads like Sandman meets Beasts of Burden, with all the positive connotations that both series bring, and I’d be tempted to buy future issues of Dark Horse Presents just to read more. UXB by Colin Lorimer is a macabre, dystopian fantasy that appealed to my darker sensibilities, though again the lack of context made the story difficult to follow. Overall, Dark Horse Presents feels like a brilliant idea that loses something in the execution, which could easily be fixed with some concession to new readers. At no point in my life has it ever felt like a good idea to confess that I’d never read any By the Hernandez Brothers Love and Rockets, so this seemed Published by Fantagraphics like a great opportunity to through Comixology address the problem. My feelings, after finally reading Winner: Ignatz Awards for Outstanding Series, Outstanding this much-loved comic series, Artist (Jaime Hernandez), and Outstanding Story (Return to Me) were that I favour Gilbert’s stylised characters and crosshatching over Jaime’s clean lines, which reminded me
“Dark Horse Presents feels like a brilliant idea that loses something in the execuIon.”
LOVE AND ROCKETS: NEW STORIES #4
Love and Rockets by the Hernandez Brothers INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 20 of 57
Digital Explorer • PM Buchan
Love and Rockets: New Stories #4 in the Comixology store (far lev) and inside the comic
“At no point in my life has it ever felt like a good idea to confess that I’d never read any Love and Rockets, so this seemed like a great opportunity to address the problem.”
quite a lot of the work of Terry Wiley. The themes of family that run through Jaime’s strips left me feeling like I’d arrived during the last series of a long-running soap opera, whereas Gilbert’s strips about an actor and actress discussing their lives was both accessible and something that I could empathise with. Both cartoonists are clearly very talented, and Jaime’s insistence on portraying real people, with realistic proportions and believable motivations, is to be celebrated, but nonetheless it’s Gilbert whose work I’m going to go and track down in future. It’s never easy breaking into such a long-running series, but Love and Rockets won me over effortlessly with New Stories #4, even without knowing the characters’ back stories. THE MONKEY IN THE BASEMENT By Corrine Mucha Published by Top Shelf through Comixology Winner: Ignatz Award for Outstanding MiniMComic
‘This is the thing about the monkey. We have to let it know that we’re friendly. Cats, you hang out by the back door and tell them we’re cool.’ ‘Ooh! They’re gonna do it!’ ‘Nope, they’re pooping by the back door again.’
Reminiscent of the work of Jeffrey Brown, Liz Prince or CONTINUES ➤
The Monkey in the Basement by Corrine Mucha INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 21 of 57
Digital Explorer • PM Buchan Lizz Lunney, this is a cute, witty and offbeat collection of stories about flying dreams, reincarnation and a monkey in a basement. Tender and sincere, these comics are easy to read and enjoy, if a little insubstantial, with a deceptively simple visual style that’s childish and innocent but never sloppy or hurried. I must be getting old, because I can’t read comics like this now without wondering what exactly makes it so award-winning over everybody else around the world that’s making equally witty and introspective comics. Inoffensive, suitable for all ages and surprisingly uplifting, the monkey in the basement might not be real, but that won’t stop Corrine Mucha from believing in it, and the power of belief underpins the whole collection. Readers less cynical than I am will probably find a lot to love in these strips. I HATE COMIXOLOGY After recommending so many comics, I’d like to end with a little bile. What reviewing all of these comics has really taught me, more than anything, is to loathe Comixology. Why, with all the money that they rake in, do I still have to endure pixilation as I swipe between pages? Why must they antagonise me this way? I’ve never spotted a lack of quality when I flick through printed comics in the shop, and it doesn’t happen when I’m reading INFINITY or the new digital Phoenix app, so why do Comixology think that this is acceptable? Rubbish.
“Why, with all the money that [Comixology] rake in, do I sIll have to endure pixilaIon as I swipe between pages? Why must they antagonise me this way?”
I read a lot of great comics to prepare for this column, but some publishers still have a long way to go before they’ll win my loyalty, and I’m waiting for an interface that can search ALL available digital comics, not just the ones that the app in question is trying to sell me. ∞ Do you have digital comics that PM should explore? Get in touch! ENDS ∞
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 22 of 57
Revolver Romance Published in 1991, it included work by Brian Bolland, Sean Collins, Garth Ennis, Glenn Fabry and Cherish, by ILYA
ILYA is the artist name of Ed Hillyer, a comic strip writer, artist and editor who has worked with Marvel, DC and Dark Horse in the USA, Kodansha in Japan, and many other. Published works include It’s Dark in London, Manga Shakespeare’s King Lear (both with Self Made Hero), and the award_winning graphic novel series The End of the Century Club, as well as a debut prose novel, The Clay Dreaming (Myriad Editions). He also designs and tutors workshops and courses on the art of comics and manga for colleges, galleries, libraries and schools across the UK and abroad. Currently he is working with Joe Kelly of Man of Action Studios (creators of BEN10) on a brand new concept called Kid Savage as well as on Room4Love, a new graphic novel for Self Made Hero. PANEL MODE ENABLED.
CHERISH On a recent visit to London, INFINITY editor Russell Willis met up with ILYA at his studio and remembered a strip he’d only read once but that had stayed with him for over 20 years… A love story called Cherish… CONTINUES ➤
DoubleMtap a panel on the comics pages that follow to view the strip panelMbyMpanel.
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ILYA on Cherish CHERISH THE LOVE • PERISH THE THOUGHT As any arEst will agree, it is always diﬃcult returning to old work. This parEcular story, however – Cherish – has always been one of my favourites. Or at least among those less reviled. In some ways I started out in comics through being known as an art assistant to Eddie Campbell on his Deadface/ Bacchus series and the subsequent solo adventures of The Eyeball Kid – although even before this I was already actually a publisher of his (with BLUES, aka Gencomics #2, which includes the ﬁrst prinEng of his Ace story Dapper John Minds the Baby). Perhaps because of this, but also because the subject maGer and milieu of my stories is oven ‘everyday’, many folks have always assumed that much of my output is in some way autobiographical. And yet Cherish is the only piece of mine that could be accurately described as such. Yes, readers, this happened, and to me. The story dates from March 1991 (I know this because the original art is date stamped on the reverse), and was originally published within the pages of the seminal Revolver Romance Special (from Fleetway, who used to put out 2000AD). This singleMissue publicaEon is
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 32 of 57
ILYA on Cherish a veritable snapshot of the Emes – cover from Brian Bolland (one of his best), John Smith, Sean Phillips, Garth Ennis and Glenn Fabry, Shaky Kane and Detonator Studio’s own Chris Webster among the contributors. Frank Wynne was the editor, back before he – and I – moved on to the muchMmissed Deadline magazine. The design work is vintage Rian Hughes. Seriously, if you ever happen to luck across a copy, snap it up. PAGE 1 The events recounted in the story occurred some Eme earlier. I would have been about 17 at the Eme, so roughly… 1980. The Venue was a realMlife, uh, venue, immediately across the main road from the exits of London Victoria’s mainline terminal – long since converted into something anonymous. I was always too heavyMhanded for paint and brushes so here, in the framing (opening and closing) sequence, I’m experimenEng with chalky colour pastels laid across a foundaEon of feltMEp marker pens – almost certainly using an industrialM sized can of hairspray as a cheapo artM student alternaEve to ﬁxaEve. The remainder of the art is largely coloured inks and marker pens. It is all relatively primitive, to be sure – my colour sense was always pretty basic, founded on what I could remember from school about complementary colours (yellow and purple, red and blue), yet still to this day my taste runs hot, ersatz South American. The third panel here for instance (with the taxicab) is preGy terrible stuﬀ; sEﬀ, cluGered, perspecEve David Lloyd could – and I think did – shoot me for. But even the most embarrassing excesses have their moments.
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 33 of 57
ILYA on Cherish PAGE 2 That cow skull string Ee is for real. My sense of style back then was of a New Wave Punkabilly variety (Royal Variety Performance), hence the quiﬀ and DA – on hang on, no… Ohmygod. It’s more of a Hasselhoﬀ sort of mullet! Good Lord. Let me endorse creaEve licence! I swear on my honour here and now that I never, ever wore my hair like that! Yecch. Animal Magic and headliners Impossible Dreamers, were real bands that I used to follow around – akin to bands from the thenM thriving Norwich scene, if I recall correctly; the beGerMknown Higsons and such. PAGE 3 My prospecEve date is a smoker, which seems unlikely. Kissing a smoker was always like snogging an ashtray. This then is most likely an invented ArEsEc Prop (lends tempo to scenes of nothingMmuch doing). A bit like cinema in the 1940s when everybody smoked because it looked good on camera. PAGE 4 The start of a wordless sequence that hopefully speaks for itself. Note the accurateM toMperiod Keith HaringMstyle dancing ﬁgures in the panel on the lev.
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 34 of 57
ILYA on Cherish PAGE 5 Another page of vomitMinducing colour choices. I’ve been browMbeaten so thoroughly since by the disapproving, limitedMpalette, desaturation and ochre crowd that I’d probably never dare craft a sequence quite like this again… and I can’t help but feel that something innocent and vital which can never be reclaimed might have been lost into the bargain. Who couldn’t fall in love with a girl that returns from a potenEal disappearance… with a pint of lager in her hands! Although it’s most likely snakebite (half and half cider and lager, hold the black).
PAGE 6 Pretty sure I made up the girl’s curious sense of style. The original Jo (her real name) did appear to be wearing an outfit that she had sewn herself – but not anything like this DocMMartenMLadyM SherlockMJapaneseMtouristMatMLondonMZoo getMup. PAGE 7 I see in the newspaper there an advert about some product presumably to cure baldness. How very ironic: a backMofMtheMhead mullet is about the only hairstyle my mature future/ present self could possibly muster. Sigh.
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 35 of 57
ILYA on Cherish PAGE 8 Jo, as I’ve said, was the girl in quesEon’s actual name. And that’s my actual then telephone number in panel 2. Thankfully nobody weird or curious ever tried it. I think a part of me actually hoped even then that she (Jo) would somehow read this story and call me, so this was a deliberate trailing breadcrumb. If that had indeed happened I don’t know what I or my 1991 partner would have made of it. That’s ChrisEne I’m spooning in the bed beside me at the end there (and at the start, if you look hard enough). She could, should and did take solace in the fact that I gave her haircut to the girl of my dreamMreﬂecEonM memories. I also think a part of me was toying with a noEon that the gender of my current partner could perhaps be lev open to doubt – that’s quite a boyish haircut for a girl. Whichever. But thank heavens I’ve goGen rid of that mullet! In the original script I called then Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell a c**t. Angry as I obviously sEll was, that was felt to be too strong, even if it was funny in the context of a light romanEc ﬂuﬀ piece. At the editor’s insistence I downgraded the epithet to tosser. When it hit print, however, even that had been transformed into a mere bastard. Now one thing I hope we can all agree on is that, whatever else he might have been, Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell was never a bastard. SEll, he never read my leGer out and thus my chances of ever meeEng Jo again were dashed for all eternity. So tosser it is. Thank you to Russell Willis and Panel Nine for giving me this chance to reassert that. And Jo, if aver all that Eme you’re sEll out there in InternetMland, even though you’d now be 48 years of age to my 50, if you recognise yourself by the events recorded herein then by all means do feel welcome to get in touch. We’ve a lot to catch up on!
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 36 of 57
ESSENTIAL WEBCOMICS DANIEL LIESKE Strip Brieﬂy
THE WORMWORLD SAGA A stunningly painted, fullMcolour graphic novel, serialized on the web using an ‘inﬁnite verEcal scroll’ story technique. Daniel Lieske is a German arEst who has really pulled out all the stops. The Wormworld Saga ‘follows the life and adventures of Jonas Berg, who at a young age enters a parallel world through a forgoGen painEng in a dusty a|c.’ A lovely iPad app is also available.
GAVIN AUNG THAN Strip Brieﬂy
MAKE GOOD ART
Neil Gaiman is a big fan of this comic strip rendiEon of the inspiraEonal commencement speech he gave at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts in 2012. It’s easy to see why. Gavin Aung Than’s clean, clear, wellMpaced interpretaEon delivers a deligh}ul aspect of the speech. Gavin’s Zen Pencils site also has a whole host of similar strips based on famous quotes and speeches.
JULY DIARY Gabrielle Bell is the author of The Voyeurs, a true gem – and if you haven’t come across her work then July Diary (2012) is a great place to start. Bell’s strips are painfully autobiographical, but whilst they paint a picture of an awkward inability to handle social situaEons, there is a lively, impish, gentle mind at work which brings an understated opEmism to her strips.
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 37 of 57
Garen3Ewing3is3the3acclaimed3writer3and3artist3of3The$Rainbow$Orchid,3an3 adventure3comic3set3in3the31920s3and3created3in3the3spirit3of3Arthur3 Conan3Doyle,3Hergé,3Jules3Verne3and3L3Rider3Haggard.3Garen3also3writes3 and3draws3for3various3books3and3magazines,3edited3the3comic3strip3 anthology3Cosmorama,3and3adapted3Shakespeare’s3The$Tempest3into3a3 comic.3He's3an3expert3on3the3Second3Anglo_Afghan3War3of31878_1880,3 and3plays3bass3guitar3and3does3karate3(though3not3at3the3same3time).
The*Rainbow*Orchid$ $This$adventure$comic$is$ published$by$Egmont$and$can$ be$bought$from$the$oﬃcial$ Rainbow*Orchid*website
SOME THOUGHTS ON CREATING COMICS Here, I thought I’d offer a few new year’s thoughts on creating stories, being a creator, and on comics generally. These are extracted from a file I’ve kept on my desktop over the past three years or so that I add to whenever a thought occurs. Some are learned from my own experience, and some are from observing fellow creators. All of them should be taken with a pinch of salt, and none are any kind of gospel, or even necessarily true. They’re just notes, but perhaps one or two may resonate with you as well… CONTINUES ➤
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 38 of 57
Creating Comics • Garen Ewing When ‘character development’ is mentioned many people think of the creation and filling out of a character before they are used in a story, but you should rather think of it in terms of the way the character develops because of the story. The story should develop the character. In a story, for a character to change their mind (or have it changed) something dramatic should happen. I don’t like stories that are aimed at kids or aimed at adults. I don’t like films that claim to be for both but are just slapstick for the kids and double-entendres for the adults. I like the story to be true only to itself, and not written for some imaginary demographic.
Sketches from The Rainbow Orchid
When you end a scene you need to end it with a full stop, or maybe an ellipsis, and when you start a scene you need to start it with a capital letter. Not literally (grammar goes without saying), but visually.
“I like the story to be true only to itself, and not wriVen for some imaginary demographic.”
Writing for kids is difficult, which is why I don’t bother. I write for me and hope that others, including kids, will like it too. People sometimes seem to think that a strong female character is simply a girl who acts like a boy – in which case I think they’re wrong. I’m an expert in how to make comics the Garen Way. As for how to make comics any other way, I’m rubbish. As soon as you get a book deal don’t sit back and hope the publisher will take care of all the marketing from now on. What you actually need to do is double and triple your marketing efforts. Self-depreciation and false modesty are all very well but CONTINUES ➤
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 39 of 57
Creating Comics • Garen Ewing don’t forget you’re a one-person marketing force on your own behalf, so it’s best not to constantly put out ‘press releases’ saying how awful you are. Stop thinking you’re important and get on with your work. Stop thinking everyone else is better than you and get on with your work. Stop thinking the world is out to get you and nothing’s fair – and get on with your work! Volume 3 of The Rainbow Orchid
I don’t mind not being original, in fact I think that may even be beyond me. But I do want to be authentic and true to myself. That is very important. How many comic creators does it take to change a light bulb? One, plus twenty-two to sit around saying how the light bulb industry is dying and if only they made light bulbs like they used to in the 70s then everything would be all right. There’s nothing wrong with occasional wordy scenes – as long as the words are useful, important and serve the story. If a comic is light on dialogue it might mean you’re just reading lots of running and fighting. Either way, just make it good.
“How many comic creators does it take to change a light bulb? One, plus twentyXtwo to sit around saying how the light bulb industry is dying.”
Success can often have more to do with not giving up rather than being brilliant or lucky. It’s about not letting obstacles defeat you. It’s about overcoming them and carrying on. People who draw only sexy girls draw brilliant sexy girls, but not very good telephones. Sometimes you need to draw telephones. The UK comics scene is small. When someone has a success CONTINUES ➤
INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 40 of 57
Creating Comics • Garen Ewing with their comic, it is a success for all comics. If fight scenes or extreme situations are too commonplace then they can lose their potency, their danger. If, like in life, fights are rare, then when they do happen they have greater impact, especially if the result on the characters is serious. Too much death and it takes on very little meaning. When I make comics, I am not a writer when I write the script, and I am not an artist when I draw the pictures – I am a comic creator with both tasks. Making comics is a single discipline with a single end product – the comic. Don’t sit there sobbing over everything that’s wrong with a drawing you’ve just done. Go and do a new drawing and make it better. You can learn from anyone, no matter what their level of expertise, no matter what their age is. Stay humble and be generous. Don’t respond to bad reviews of your work. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t don’t. Things in publishing aren’t always great. When this happens, don’t withdraw – you’ve got to keep engaged. Keeping engaged means opportunities will still come your way and things will improve.
“Don’t respond to bad reviews of your work. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t don’t.”
It’s very easy to spend all your time writing emails, doing interviews, attending events, dealing with admin – and not writing and drawing. Don’t do that. Writing and drawing must come first. People are fond of saying how comics are great for slow readers to hook them into reading. Then they complain when comics are seen as dumbed-down kids’ stuff, useful only as a stepping stone to ‘proper books’. CONTINUES ➤
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Creating Comics • Garen Ewing If someone says ‘I could do better than that’, what they usually mean, probably without realising, is they think they could improve on what they have just seen or read – not doing better from a fresh, uninfluenced, start – a blank sheet of paper – as the original author did. The best defence against failure, and the best ally of inspiration, is to make sure you’re working on a project that you really love. You don’t find the time to draw comics, you make the time to draw comics. Everyone thinks there’s a clique and that they’re not in it.
A model sheet for The Rainbow Orchid
If a gun is used, it must have serious consequences. A gun must not be used to solve plot situations. Guns don’t solve problems, they make them more complicated. A drawing will lay bare your soul. No wonder artists are so sensitive to criticism! When I type a comic script I’m writing with words. When I draw a comic strip I’m writing with pictures.
“A drawing will lay bare your soul. No wonder arIsts are so sensiIve to criIcism!”
Successful artists suffer from a lack of confidence in their own ability just like every other artist does; the difference is that they don’t let it rule their lives. Talking heads are fine if: a) the talking is interesting, and b) the heads are interesting. Oh, and it doesn’t go on too long. Isn’t it time we moved beyond the idea of girls’ or boys’ comics? For a villain to be a threat they must be shown to do something with real and serious consequences. CONTINUES ➤
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Creating Comics • Garen Ewing You are not in competition with other cartoonists. No book reviewer has ever found a fault with my work that I wasn’t already painfully aware of. Where my own work is concerned, I am the Critic King!
Character sketches for The Rainbow Orchid
The Three Excitements: Action, Tension, and Comedy. Try to use at least one in every scene. There seems to be this idea that there’s a tiny room called ‘Comics’ and only a few privileged souls can fit in it. Actually ‘Comics’ is a universe, and it’s bigger than all the comic creators in existence, many many times over. ∞
A CRIME-NOIR THRILLER FROM DAVID LLOYD, THE ARTIST BEHIND V FOR VENDETTA “Frankly, all digitally released graphic novels should be given this amount of care.” – Spandexless “The app works beautifully and looks gorgeous. It would be a crime not to buy it.” – Comic Heroes “This app is fantastic! Go buy it!” – David Hine
THE IPAD GRAPHIC NOVEL • AVAILABLE ON THE APP STORE ENDS ∞
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Digital Comics Sample
THE PHOENIX THE WEEKLY STORY COMIC FOR KIDS The Phoenix is the acclaimed kids’ story comic that brings together some of the UK’s top comics writers and artists with a host of stories, puzzles, competitions and prizes, featuring pirates, dinosaurs, monkeys, aliens and a whole lot more. In January 2013 The Phoenix was released as a deluxe Newsstand app for the iPad. Using Panel Nine’s ‘gold standard’ software, each issue features smooth swiping with no pixellation, double-tap transition to Panel Mode, and a special ‘Something Cool!’ button to access pop-up pages with bonus content and other surprises. The app is available on Newsstand for the iPad– it’s free to download, and includes a free full-length sample issue. A new issue is released each Friday and issues can be bought via a subscription (currently with a free trial) or individually. INFINITY is proud to present an exclusive sample of story strips from The Phoenix #53 for your enjoyment. Thrill to The Pirates of Pangaea, gape and gasp in ghoulish delight at Corpse Talk and gargle galactic-sized giggles with Star Cat. And this is just a taste of the real thing! CONTINUES ➤
THE PHOENIX iPad • Free to download Published by David Fickling Comics • Produced by Panel Nine
PANEL MODE ENABLED. DoubleMtap a panel on the comics pages following to view the strip panelMbyMpanel.
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GET OUT! MOCCA ARTS FESTIVAL
STUMPTOWN COMICS FESTIVAL
TORONTO COMICS ARTS FESTIVAL
New York, USA
Portland, Oregon, USA
April 6–7, 2013
April 27–28, 2013
May 11–12, 2013
AlternaEve and mainstream
AlternaEve and mainstream
A lively, cuttingMedge event with exhibitors and attendees that treat comics as an art form. The event is hosted by the Society of Illustrators and this year Bill Griffith (coMeditor of Arcade and creator of Zippy) is the guest of honour. This year’s event will include an onsite cafe featuring a full bar and menu as well as a lounge for networking.
Portland, Oregon’s vibrant comics community is home to collecEves like Periscope Studios and Tranquility Base, along with publishers such as Dark Horse Comics, Top Shelf Productions, and Oni Press. The Stumptown Comics Festival is a big part of that community. Special guests include James Kochalka, John McNaught and Becky Cloonan (below).
TCAF is a weekMlong celebration of comics and graphic novels, culminating in a twoMday exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. Other events include readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and much more. Special guests include Art Spiegelman and Glyn Dillon (below).
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“I READ AND REALLY LOVED EDDIE CAMPBELL’S DAPPER JOHN FOR THE IPAD.” – Neil Gaiman
THE LETTERS PAGES Your thoughts and comments are requested.
We may be publishing a cutting-edge iPad magazine about digital comics, but we’re going to do the letters column the old-fashioned way. Your letters are very welcome and will be considered for inclusion in the Ad Infinitum letters column, but please note that we’ll fix up your grammar and spelling and edit what you write for clarity and length (though we will do our best to keep your intended meaning). Your letter may well have interjections from the editor /( Like this! ~ RW )/ that hope to clarify, praise or criticize your comments. Letters will be organised for publication so they run on in a pleasing fashion and make reading the letters column a high point of your month… Feel free to include observations about anything you like connected to the magazine, or comics, or life in general. So them’s the rules. If you’re OK with all of that, then send us your letter via firstname.lastname@example.org and mark it ‘For publication’. We ask you to include your real name, in full, along with the region and country you live in. Thanks in advance. Published letters get a free Panel Nine app!
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THE LAST WORD… BEWARE ADDITIVES There’s a widespread view, held by comics executives and industry observers such as ICv2, that digital is ‘additive’ to print sales. That the growth of digital will not impact upon physical sales of comics, and comic shops have nothing to fear. This flies in the face of the experience of music and books, and is clearly wrong. The ‘addiEves’ argue that comics, having been gheGoized into comic shops, will react diﬀerently than more popular media such as music and books. They argue that making comics easily available through digital (1) adds customers who would have never bought comics, (2) gets lapsed comics readers back into the fold and then into comic shops for print ediEons, and (3) brings new readers into comic shops to buy ‘the real thing’. This argument is seducEve because it is partly true, and in the short term we are seeing a growth of both print and digital. But in the medium term we are looking at the vast majority of exisEng comics buyers moving to digital exclusively. (Every day you read ‘I never thought I’d abandon paper but comics on tablets are so cool!’) We will soon see comics periodicals for teenagers and adults only available digitally. The inﬂux of new buyers will stay exclusively digital, or will be looking to buy souvenirs and totems, not pamphlets, and their business will not replace that of the lost comics reader who used to visit a comic shop each week. The big American comics companies need to keep comic shop owners calm, whilst they migrate to what, for them, is a signiﬁcantly beGer and more proﬁtable business model, and the ‘addiEve’ argument is part of the placaEon eﬀort. Don’t buy it.
DRM-FREE AND DIGITAL ESCROW If you want the delightful reading experience of apps like The Phoenix, then true DRMMfree is impossible. Without Apple’s system all you have is some weird PDFs and a set of loose media files. But a system could be set up where coherent PDFs of purchased comics are held in escrow for delivery to a customer when the file is no longer available from the company that sold it. Neat idea, huh? ∞ ENDS ∞
RUSSELL WILLIS Russell has worked in publishing for over 25 years, specialising in digital media. In 1993 he set up a mulEmedia development company in Japan which produced customised languageM learning sovware for Canon and published a large number of successful languageMlearning sovware products, including Finding Out, a joint venture with Macmillan described by Modern EducaIon as the ‘best languageM learning sovware for children available’. He has created products for TIME, the BriEsh government, Oxford University Press, and many more. Russell’s audiobooks, podcasts, and iOS apps have all reached the No.1 spot in Apple’s iTunes charts in Japan. He is the president of Panel Nine. INFINITY #3 • February 2013 • 57 of 57