Archive for the 'webcomics' Category

in a supreme irony, it took me forever to compose this

By and large, Rolling Stone may be the poster child for the obsolescence of the print magazine, but one thing they’re still good at is the in-depth, Cameron-Crowe-style artist profile.

Reading through Mark Binelli’s Lil Wayne profile in last month’s issue, we learn a few facts about the “best rapper alive”:

  1. Lil Wayne is always stoned.
  2. Lil Wayne releases tons of music for free over the internet.
  3. Lil Wayne goes to a recording studio every day.

Now, I don’t know what to make of the first one (as I understand it from the article, he literally chain-smokes weed. His assistants roll blunts and put them in packs which he carries on him at all times. Like Lyle and Ray’s Perfect Jays.). But #2 and #3 made me think:

Lil Wayne is to music as webcomics are to comics.

It was #3 that surprised me, but it’s starting to make a lot of sense. Studio time is expensive if you are a garage band, but not if you have the #1 album in the world and you own a dozen studios. It’s also pretty easy to do it yourself these days, even for garage bands. And if you are prolific and talented and like making music, why would you ever not be recording?

It’s a completely opposite model to the standard rock process (write songs privately, spend intense time in the studio perfecting the recording, then release your finished masterpiece into the canon). In music, call it the U2 or Zeppelin model. In comics, think of Craig Thompson or David Mazzucchelli.  It’s also distinct from the corporate deadline/assembly-line model, exemplified by the early pop singles industry, the syndicated comic strip, or the Big Two comic book.

Instead, it’s what people have been saying about the Internet for years: removal of middlemen, instant delivery, zero barriers between creation and distribution. Lil Wayne (or Randall Munroe) has an idea, he gets on his computer, he lays it down, he clicks a button, and 50 million people download it.

Art as blog.

Andrew Sullivan (who does more or less the same thing for political commentary) has written thoughtfully on blogging:

The blogosphere may, in fact, be the least veiled of any forum in which a writer dares to express himself. … The wise panic that can paralyze a writer—the fear that he will be exposed, undone, humiliated—is not available to a blogger. You can’t have blogger’s block. You have to express yourself now, while your emotions roil, while your temper flares, while your humor lasts

Apparently Wayne doesn’t even write his lyrics down anymore, he just records whatever comes to him during his (again, daily) recording sessions. Webcomic creators like Chris Onstad and Jeph Jacques improvise on a similar day-to-day basis.

And that’s what makes blogging as a form stand out: it is rich in personality. The faux intimacy of the Web experience, the closeness of the e-mail and the instant message, seeps through. You feel as if you know bloggers… When readers of my blog bump into me in person, they invariably address me as Andrew. Print readers don’t do that. It’s Mr. Sullivan to them.

That matches my impression of both webcomickers and Lil Wayne: the immediacy and unmediatedness of their work is intoxicating, and they blur the line between personal diary and product, between friend and fan (with sometimes frightening results).

I hasten to add that I don’t think this is the sole future of artistic or literary production. It’s just one part of the cultural ecosystem. We will always need thoughtful, well-crafted, large-scale pieces in every medium. Some creators are better suited to one type or another (God knows if we were all bombarded with Twitter updates and Myspace diss tracks from Bono or Thom Yorke we’d shoot ourselves in the face). Some can tackle both, just as Sullivan finds time apart from his blog grind to compose the occasional essay or book.

But as for the New York Times’ much-mocked anxiety about the upcoming xkcd book — if this comparison holds, Munroe doesn’t have much to worry about.

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The Best Little Comics Scene in Australia

The irrepressible Jessica McLeod and Edward J Grug III (who have contributed a ton of great stories to Top Shelf 2.0) sent over the most amazing care package last week. Check this out!

Grug & Jess haul

One of the buttons (with the Bad Yeti on it) is missing because my girlfriend already nabbed it for herself! But otherwise, they say, this is everything they have in print! So go yell at them via Livejournal (Jess and Grug) and or possibly this online store URL make them sell you these amazing comics!

The fine wares include:
Bad Yeti by Jess
Yeti Party by Jess
A Big Fish in a Little Pond by David Garrett & Grug
The Bug That Inherited a Spooky Mansion and the Crazy Stuff That Happened in It!: A Choose Your Own Adventure Comic by Grug
Crushes Forever by Grug
Henry & Gil vs. the Infinity Engine #1 by Grant Watson & Grug
Henry & Gil vs. the Infinity Engine #2 by Grant Watson & Grug
The Indefatigable Miss Manners by Jess
Intrepid by Grug
Love Puppets #1 by Jess & Grug
Love Puppets #2 by Jess & Grug
Mungo Bean by Jess
Plague by Grug
Two-Fer: Osborn & Reynard / Mr. Churchill by Grug

Thanks, guys! You’re the best! And an easy lock for Most Adorable Soon-to-be-Married Comics Couple in Australia!

Art by Ainsley Seago

I don’t care how many times he makes it,

this joke by John Campbell is still hilarious.

teasing!



Guess who’s coming back to Top Shelf 2.0 soon…

more shameless self-promotion!

Oh by the way, my interview with PWCW‘s Laura Hudson is up on her blog Myriad Issues. We talk about a few issues related to digital comics distribution, including my attempt to construct a theoretical division of media experiences into “ephemeral” and “permanent” — something that isn’t entirely fleshed out yet, but I’m getting closer to figuring out what I’m trying to say.

This is the section that seems to be hooking people the most:

If you treat your comics as newspapers from a fictional universe, there’s no reason to read them twice.

Choose your destiny!


Today’s Top Shelf 2.0 story is new material from Kagan McLeod — a sort of “bonus chapter” never before seen in the original self-published Infinite Kung Fu comic book. Kagan has been going through and “remastering” the whole series, often re-inking whole pages, in preparation for the release of the complete IKF graphic novel from Top Shelf next year. Today’s is an example of an all-new scene that he’s added to improve the flow of the story and lay the groundwork for the whole plot. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to serialize the book with regular web updates, just as we did with Matt Kindt’s Eisner-nominated Super Spy.

I certainly never thought I’d describe /b/ as “innocent”

EDITED TO ADD: Since Dan Walsh has showed up to shed some light on the situation, there’s an update here.

Sean T. Collins (whom I’ve now actually met, as well as e-published) posts a press release from Ballantine Books and Jim Davis’ Paws, Inc announcing the publication of a Garfield Minus Garfield print collection.

Paws, Inc. and Ballantine Books, a division of the Random House Publishing Group, announced last week at Comic-Con International that Ballantine will publish a book inspired by the popular webcomic Garfield Minus Garfield.

Garfield Minus Garfield (www.garfieldminusgarfield.net) made its online debut in February 2008 and quickly became an online sensation based on a simple premise: What would Jim Davis’ Garfield comic strip be like without its lasagna-loving fat cat? Without the presence of Garfield and other characters such as Odie the dog and Nermal the kitten, the strips “create a new, even lonelier atmosphere for Jon Arbuckle…Jon’s observations seem to teeter between existential crisis and deep despair.” (New York Times)

The full-color book format will give readers the experience of having both the original and doctored Garfield strips together on the same page for comparison. Dublin, Ireland-based Garfield Minus Garfield creator Dan Walsh will provide the foreword to the book.

Garfield creator Jim Davis was intrigued by—and pleased with—the concept. “I think it’s an inspired thing to do,” Davis said. “I want to thank Dan for enabling me to see another side of Garfield. Some of the strips he chose were slappers: ‘Oh, I could have left that out.’ It would have been funnier.”

Garfield Minus Garfield site creator Dan Walsh says, “When I looked at Jon and laughed at his crazy antics I thought ‘He’s just like me.’ As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one saw myself in him: millions of visitors from all over the world visit Garfield Minus Garfield and tell me they think the same thing. Now, thanks to the awesome generosity and humor of Jim Davis, Garfield Minus Garfield is going to become a book and I’m absolutely honored to be part of it.”

First, let me echo Sean and applaud Davis for seeing this as an opportunity rather than an attack. But this story is still pretty upsetting to me, actually.

I suspect this is only going to be a bigger and bigger problem as time goes by, but “Garfield Minus Garfield site creator Dan Walsh” is making a heap of cash from a meme that’s been around for years. Realfield dates back at least to fall 2007, this one to fall 2006, and this “Garfield minus Garfield” was posted to ED six months before Walsh launched his site, for Chrissake.

I just found out that Eric Nakagawa sold Icanhascheezburger.com for $2 million. The new owners, “Pet Holdings Inc,” now apparently operate a whole family of irritating ad-ridden sites based on the principle of stealing from underground net humor. Don’t even get me started on this. I guess now I know how old-school hip-hoppers felt when Vanilla Ice sold 15 million.

These kind of thefts were mildly amusing when ebaumsworld and SA and 4chan would squabble amongst themselves about who invented what. But now that the big money has started to arrive, it’s all become much less funny. Nothing actionable, but this kind of stuff is by nature collaborative, born out of the rapid-fire oneupmanship of a thousand Anonymous nerds doing it for the lulz, and it’s actually kind of sad to see that exploited.


Leigh Walton talks comics and maybe other arts. (RSS)
He also works for the very excellent publisher Top Shelf Productions (which does not necessarily endorse the views and opinions, etc, herein).

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Header by me. Contains an interpolation of the final panel from All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Speaking of which.