Here are 10 Questions With the creator – T!
I’m Thomas Gorence, creator of Time Samplers and owner of Paranoid American, Inc. Currently working on the first story arc of Time Samplers, which takes place over 4-5 separate 23-page issues, with the goal of putting out a trade paperback with 100+ pages. For each printed comic, there will also be a digital version of the story, enhanced with original music, sound effects, etc. Aside from the comics, working on a few mobile games to coincide with the stories. And as if that’s not enough, there are plans in the works for a series of prints and mini-comics that revolve around real conspiracies within US History.
My addiction to technology and comics both took hold around the same time, and they’ve continued to influence a lot of what I do. Being a software developer by trade, the digital realm has always been more of a natural environment to me. It’s fascinating being able to create an entire comic book without any tangible materials. Plus, the workflow is also very flexible – working with artists and writers across the world doesn’t take any extra thought or energy. With Skype, email, and dropbox – anything is impossible.
I love both, and intend to release a webcomic very soon, in addition to the ongoing Time Samplers series. Each of the formats have their own experience. I usually expect a webcomic to have new art on a weekly basis, and compare them to the short panels you see in the Sunday paper. They usually follow a pretty standard formula and provide small snapshots into a storyline. Digital comics on the other hand are ideally read in one sitting, and cover a bit more ground. With that said, I believe webcomics and digital comics can both evolve quite a bit from where they are now. If you’re trying to twist my arm and make me choose, I’d go with digital comics since I prefer “binge-reading.”
There is a long list of benefits with digital comics. As a reader, it’s great being able to carry an entire library of comics with you anywhere you go. The ability to set bookmarks, take notes, share screenshots, etc. These are all features I would have loved 15 years ago.
There’s no perfect answer to this one. Personally, I’ve been doing my best to replace physical media (books, dvds, comics, etc.) with their digital counterparts over the years. I believe that to collectors, nothing will ever replace a printed comic, just like mp3s will never replace vinyl records. Plus, a comic will always “work.” Meaning, it won’t crash, it will always open, and you never have to worry about the batteries dying. So in a short answer, no – digital comics cannot replace print comics. Digital can certainly evolve beyond print, and become more popular, however I think it’s important to still cater to both. That said, I plan to focus a lot more on the digital medium, since I believe there’s lots of innovation I can bring to the table. With print, not so much.
A story can’t change too much once it’s been printed on paper. However, a digital story can evolve and react. Because of this, I think that digital comics can act as extensions of their printed counterparts. What can a printed comic bring to the experience that a digital comic can’t? That’s a great question. Not including the tactile and aforementioned “wireless” features of a printed comic, this is something I’ve been thinking about! In my alter-ego as a software engineer, incorporating things like QR codes, augmented reality, and image recognition with printed materials is second nature… however deep down I feel it’s all a bit gimmicky. Without giving too much away, I love the idea of using a digital comic/app/device as some kind of decoder, which can add or change elements to the story in a printed comic. Or perhaps an digital comic which is a continuation of a printed story, where the readers can dictate and affect the outcome as it branches off the page and into the cloud.
With all the things I love about digital comics, there are defintely some downsides. As far as I know, there isn’t a dedicated eComicReader being manufactured. Most digital comics are read on the same devices that beep, buzz, and blink whenever a new update, post, tweet, or text message comes through. You also lose the concept of progress within a story. Seeing a progress bar that says “80% complete” isn’t the same as feeling the last 4 pages in-between your fingers. From the perspective of a buyer/seller of comics, it also seems as though something is missing from the process of purchasing a physical comic. I lived off my local comic shop’s 4-for-$1 bins as a kid, but I don’t think that will be around much longer. That kinda sucks.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
My current favorite webcomic is Mike Walton’s False Positive (http://falsepositivecomic.
com/). Also a huge fan of Gift Revolver (http://falsepositivecomic. com/) and a few others. Not sure if it counts as a webcomic, but Max Cannon’s Read Meat (http://www.redmeat.com) is something I always check out too. I’ve read them all a million times, but it’s my kind of humor. As far as digital comics go, I’m more about catching up on long storylines and libraries, rather than keeping up to date weekly. That might be sacrilege to some, but I’m the same way with TV shows – I can only watch them once there’s a couple of seasons for a marathon.
Personally, I believe that we’re all still waiting for the next big thing in digital comics. There’s still so much more that can be done aside from adding motion and transitions to the artwork. Real interaction with panel artwork (not just things moving around). Letting readers make decisions that affect the storyline, akin to read-your-own-adventure books. Artwork and storylines that react to GPS coordinates, time of day, seasons, etc. I’m hoping to see all of these things make it into digital comics. Making use of the accelerometer and gyroscope is a pretty cool innovation that’s starting to come out. Working more with the touchscreen is a good idea too. Most comic readers are trying to emulate the whole page-turn flow which doesn’t make sense in a digital format. There’s really no reason to separate panels into pages anymore either. Once the digital format breaks out from it’s print-centric prison, I think that’s when the real innovation can begin.
10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
So far I’ve been extremely impressed with Cognito’s Operation AJAX’s use of sound design and panel animations. I’m excited to see more from DeepComix and their 3D comic viewer. Madefire is making great progress with panel transitions and sharp looking artwork. I know that the talented folks at Arch-Enemy Entertainment (William Wilson and Percy Carey) are planning to make some big moves going forward in the digital realm as well. These are all the companies, people, and technologies that I’d like to work with – and I believe it’s smaller publishers like these which will be at the forefront of innovation. So that’s who I usually keep my eye on, and so should you!
“10 Questions With” is to be a interview session with digital comics creators – there’s a lot of great people I’ve got lined up and I hope you enjoy seeing what the creators are interested in.