Comics as a team effort
We mentioned a few weeks ago that comics require teamwork. We feel it’s difficult for it to be the work of only one person, contrary to what Todd McFarlane claims (“The Todd McFarlane Interview,” The Comics Journal, n° 152, 1992). Beyond the respective roles, we favour collaboration because interactions lead to a proliferation of ideas and viewpoints.
With regard to the essential role of collaborators, it’s like casting in a film. You have to choose the right actor for the right part. Thus, some of my collaborators are more at ease with action scenes, others with introspective ones, etc. But one important determining characteristic for all collaborators is their ability to respect deadlines. The best illustrator is not useful if the story boards are late. Deadlines are critical in webcomics where posting regularly is a moral contract between the producer and the reader.
This doesn’t mean that the collaborator is the only one responsible for meeting the dateline. It’s also important to have a schedule that allows enough flexibility to accommodate the unforeseen events that can happen at any time.
Doing it yourself is great but you have to know what’s involved
The DIY philosophy is an appealing one: we are our own boss, we don’t answer to anyone about the editorial turns our comic is taking. It lets us cut out the middlemen, like publicists (“…That’s the Spice of Life, Bud: The Todd McFarlane Interview,” The Comics Journal, n° 152, August 1992). When it’s put that way, it may sound like a choice, but at the same time, we have to be honest and acknowledge that we have to adopt this approach because traditional channels don’t embrace our projects.
In any case, whether or not we voluntarily adopt the DIY philosophy, it’s important to assess all of its implications. Steve Morris summarizes the stages of production for a comic (script, design, illustration, inking, colouring, lettering) (“Interview: Stephen Mooney Goes Creator-Owned for ‘Half Past Danger’,” April 2, 2013, http://comicsbeat.com). We would add a few others: bibliographic research, validation, corrections and translation. For the Web, where posting regularly is the name of the game, the production cycle becomes very long, which requires the creator to also take on the role of project manager.
And on top of that, we must also develop promotional skills, which isn’t something everyone takes to (Hannah Means-Shannon, “On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, Indie Marketing Tips from Comixologie, Dark Horse, IDW, Archia, Valiant,” March 31, 2013, http://comicsbeat.com). So, even when we want to go it alone, it quickly becomes apparent that teamwork still has to be involved.
Internet, format and action
Mark Waid introduces two interesting ideas that, in our opinion, become conflated. The first isn’t really new: “Remember: this is what media does. Radio up until the 1960s was two or three formats. Now it’s a million formats. Television? Same thing. Three channels becomes a hundred channels. Any medium eventually fragments out towards a wider base of people where each individual fragment does what it has to do to survive on its own. It doesn’t have to appeal to the wider base. In retrospect, it’s kind of amazing and surprising that something that’s been around for 75 years like print comics hasn’t sort of gone through that same dissolution. Instead it’s put all of its eggs into the one basket.” (“CR Holiday Interview # 22 – Mark Waid,” January 10, 2013, www.comicsreporter.com). This promotes the fragmentation of tastes, where a consumer can more easily find something that appeals to him or her. However it also makes for smaller markets, which then brings up the issue of profitability, or more concretely, of how to limit costs on these projects.
However, from a writing point of view, the story should be compatible with its publication format. And here is where Waid brings up his second point, a more original one: “That’s what you have Marc Guggenheim for. That’s what you have comics writer Marc Guggenheim slash lawyer Marc Guggenheim for. He’s on speed dial. I take the same approach that Stan and Gerry Conway and a lot of other guys who’ve written Daredevil in the past have taken, that is that you want to try to be very, very faithful to the law, but not to the point where it stifles your story. And you kind of have to give it some leeway. Especially nowadays, nobody wants twelve pages of Matt Murdock in a courtroom, because comics don’t do that well, television does it better and for free.” (Christine, “Mark Waid talks Daredevil at Baltimore Comic Con”, September 7, 2013, www.theothermurdockpapers.com). This would imply that some formats are better adapted, or more natural, for exploring certain themes or certain types of production. That’s certainly something to think about.
Our Facebook Page
We’re happy to announce that we now have a Facebook page. This gives us another way to stay in touch with you. We’ll use the page to discuss more at length the issues involved in creating entertainment.
The superiority of comic books
It often happens that a director will get an idea for a movie storyboard from a comic. Spielberg said it about Hergé’s Tintin and Rodriguez said it about Frank Miller’s Sin City. Comics undeniably have an advantage over other popular culture media forms because it can introduce a wide range of characters and places, at less cost.
Tony “G-Man” Guerrero asked an excellent question on the ComicVine blog in November 2010: “Why do villains wear costumes?” For their first crime, it might be understandable that they’d want to be anonymous, but once they’ve been captured, the character’s costume loses its anonymity. We steer clear of giving our bad guys a too-fanciful or over-sophisticated look. We want them to wear clothes that are appropriate for the mission or that set them apart socially. For those reasons, we enjoyed the simplicity of the costumes in the movie X-Men First Class.
The paintings you’ll see in “Burst of Energy” are original works. If you click on the link below you’ll find the name of each paining exhibited in the story. The idea to incorporate original artwork came out of a discussion with Michel Lamontagne, who said that, really, we could use any painting at all in the strip. From that idea, we decided to search for an artist who would be willing to exhibit their work in the strip.
After months of hard work, our webcomic has finally come to life. We hope you’ll find the characters and their lives so compelling that you’ll want to come back regularly to escape your day-to-day life and immerse yourself in theirs. Our fondest wish is that the number of readers will continue to grow, so the adventure can keep going for a long time.
Think of this section as the Bonus Features on a DVD. It offers information that will help you better understand the inspiration behind some of the storylines, the narrative processes or the characters. Look for periodic updates of these features.