1. Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
I’m Dave Gibbons, well known comic book artist & writer. I’m currently working on Secret Service with Mark Millar and I’m also working on properties for Madefire. In particular ‘Treatment’ which is a concept which I came up with last year. It appeared as a brief comic book episode – we are now expanding and expanding on the Madefire platform.
2. What drew you to digital comics?
I’ve always been a geek, I’ve always loved technology and I’ve been using computers to produce comic artwork for the last 20 years. It’s been obvious for quite a while that printed media are going digital. Obviously ebooks are huge sellers now and I think that comics initially as a way of accessing printed comics and lately in producing original work for them are heading in the digital direction.
I am finding it very exciting, I’ve always been the kind of person who wants the next thing, the next issue or the next wonderful tool to do artwork with and digital comics seem to me very much like an exciting future.
3. Webcomics or digital comics?
I don’t understand the distinction – I see the way to go 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 that doesn’t actually quite feel like a reading experience – while holding a phone or an iPad or some other tablet does feel like that. So if that’s what you mean by digital comics – then yes!
4. What do you think works with digital comics?
The same thing that works with print comics. First you have to have a good story, then I think you have to have artwork that makes the story attractive and tells the story well, but with digital comics particuly those on the iPad and other tablets you have something that you can’t do with paper – you can use the interactive capabilities of the tablet by changing the orientation, by tapping the screen, by swiping, by zooming in. I think it’s all the things that work in regular comics but with a whole layer of enhancement. I think that everything you do must be in service to the story. I don’t think there’s any point in having things move just to have them move. I think you actually have to be imparting some story information and dramatizing the story and not distracting from it.
5.Can digital comics replace print comics?
I suppose they can – whether I would like to see it happen or not I don’t know. There’s still a charm about printed material. I think that even if, episodically, comics are presented digitally, there will always be people who will want to have the thing as a hard copy. It’s almost like the model for regular comic books – nowadays they are publishing a monthly pamphlet and collecting 4 or 6 issues into a trade paperback you can have in your bookshelf.
I think those bookshelf items will always be desirable, but it may well be that people will move away from the now somewhat expensive monthly print episodes and go towards digital. I think even more so now that digital comics are available on the phone. If you want to look at them on an iPad or another tablet, you have to invest in that hardware. I think nowadays, a lot of people do have smart phones, and I think if you can deliver the material to them on their smartphone that they’re going to be carrying them with them all the time while they’re waiting for a bus or sitting on the train or whatever it may be. I think that’s when the market will really open up.
6. How can print comics work with digital comics?
I expect I’ve answered that in the last questions. I think they can work side-by-side. I’ll be really sorry if comic shops went out of business. I can see that a lot of them do depend on that regular monthly issue and I would like to think there is a way they can morph into something different – a place where you can buy trade paperbacks and I can see that most are doing so already and transferring to selling memorabilia and collectibles that are related to comics, movies and games
7. What don’t you like about digital comics?
I don’t think there’s anything about digital comics per say that I dislike i think that we’re in the position at the moment of it being like the wild west where we know there’s gold out there, but we’re not quite sure where it is!
I think that the Madefire platform is a really good attempt at solving that problem. I think that we’ve got some tremendous people working on it, some tremendous backers. I think that we’ve got a presence and branding that makes us very visible, but it’s going to be interesting at the end of the day – we’re all breaking new ground, settling new lands to find out how things do shake down. I think we’re in an evolutionary process at the moment – things that I don’t think do work are limited animation – I learnt this from my experience doing the Watchmen motion comic, which although it had some wonderful people working on it, it was ultimately an exercise in what didn’t work as what did work.
I think that the things that I don’t like about digital comics will fall by the wayside as we move forward.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
Obviously I read all the Madefire things. I do like thinks like Bottom of the Ninth, Operation Ajax – I think that’s fantastic. I don’t read a lot of webcomics as such I have looked at the first issue of Aces Weekly, which is the brainchild of David Lloyd and quite liked that. I really haven’t looked at webcomics – my focus is what we are doing with Madefire.
9. Where do you see digital comics going from here?
That’s kind or hard to predict. If you knew the answer to that, then you’d have it all sown up! I think it’s going to take a while for them to get established in the market. I think that they can only expand and improve and find a wider audience. I think once you’ve got hooked on them, then, in a way, there is no going back. I find that when I’m on Comixology and sites like that, they re-purpose print comics – I’ll find that I’ll go on there to download an issue that I’ve heard a lot about or if I can’t get to the comic shop I think as people increasingly do that it will be done more and more.
I’m particualy interested, as a collector to get every comic that’s every been published available. I’ve got some comic reading apps on the iPad and I’ve got some old, out of copyright series from the 50’s that I love and they look great and revitalized on the screen of the iPad. So I think there’s a market for the old stuff as well, but I think that to a degree that it’s unpredictable. I think that if it does take off, it will do so in quite an explosive way, I can see it becoming big quite quickly.
10.Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
I would like to think that all the popular creators will have a presence in digital comics. I remember when we first started using computers to produce digital artwork the problem that we used to talk about was that the people who had the artistic vision didn’t have the technical knowledge, and the people who had the technical knowledge didn’t have the artistic vision. I think that once digital comics become more prevalent and creators can see the possibilities the more of them will be attracted to them, and have stories that they want to tell in this new medium. I suspect that the real superstars of digital comics are unsuspected and may not even be born yet. I certainly think that we’ve got a really interesting time with people like me making the transition from print into digital. We”re beginning to get our feet wet and paddle in the shallows of it all. I think that there are some exciting times ahead. I’m certainly do everything in future with an eye towards digital. I’m really excited to see how the field expands.