Toda’s 10 Questions are with Stephen Coughlin who is the writer of Sanctuary – available from SLG:
1. Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
My name is Stephen Coughlin and I’m the writer/artist of the digital comic, “Sanctuary”, published by Slave Labor Graphics.
2. What drew you to digital comics?
I wasn’t really drawn into digital comics. My publisher was looking to try publishing digital comics as a way to save money on publishing print comics. Chris Wisnia (Monstrosis) and I were the guinea pigs and it turned out to be a really exciting experience. As great as is it getting people to try digital comics for the first time, I am excited to see Sanctuary published on paper. There’s something about seeing on the bookshelf that’s really exciting. Now, I only buy digital on my Kindle. Having less long boxes of comics that I’ll probably never read again saves a lot of space in the apartment, which my wife appreciates.
3. Webcomics or digital comics?
Webcomics seems to me to be the eventual successor to the daily comic strips and digital the future of paper comics. I guess whichever you prefer.
4. What do you think works with digital comics?
I think digital comics are a great way to introduce a younger audience to comics without making them go and find a local comic book shop. You can upload a few issues of any comic now into an iPad, Nook, or Amazon Kindle and just hand it to your kid. It doesn’t get much easier than that and it’s usually cheaper.
5. Can digital comics replace print comics?
I know a lot of die hard comic fans will say paper can never be replaced and I agree, but there are a lot less comic book shops then there used to be. I think part of the reason is the people who started collecting in the 80’s and 90’s boom are getting bored with what’s out there. For me, the formula being used by DC and Marvel is just getting too predictable. I see this same belief on a lot of message boards from long-time collectors and fans. I’ve seen Batman fight the Joker so many times that it’s all become a blur now. Killing off characters, bringing characters back from the dead, reboots, D-list characters getting their own series, costume changes, etc. I read a lot more independent publishers now just to get something fresh. I did like what Bendis did recently with All New X-men. It was really gutsy to go back in time and bring the old X-men back to see what had become of their future selves and how disappointed they all were.
6. How can print comics work with digital comics?
At the moment, it’s rough. Die hard paper fans don’t want to give up on collecting their comics and refuse to go digital. They don’t understand that going digital is just another way for comics to evolve and survive. The publishers really cater to both. They put out the digital issues online and then collect them on paper so both kinds of readers can enjoy. The comic industry has to evolve and reach out to younger readers or it won’t be around in 30 years. Digital is a good way to start. The average comic book reader is 40yrs old. In 30yrs, that person will be 70. If you don’t want to buy digital that’s fine, but don’t trash the idea of finding new ways to attract new readers. They are the future of the industry and might have a lot less local comic book shops than there are now to shop at.
7. What don’t you like about digital comics?
Convincing my mother to get a Comixology account so she can read my comics.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
Right now, I really like the Batman Beyond digital series that DC is putting out. I know I said I don’t read superhero comics, but this really caught my eye. They combine it with a Justice League Beyond series that’s really written well and Norm Breyfogle’s art is just fantastic. I read a lot of what Slave Labor puts out, too. Model A, Heart of a Corpse, Monstrosis, and Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer.
9. Where do you see digital comics going from here?
I’m hoping that the quality gets better. Some people complain about the images moving and the inability to see the complete page. I’d like to see more motion comics, choose-your-own-adventure comics, and maybe some 3-D stuff. I’m hoping that the artwork gets better every year. When you look back at some of the art of the early days of comics, it looks kinda silly. When more realistic art styles showed up in the 60’s and 70’s, the drawing improved, but the poor coloring was still there (don’t get mad at me, but the books of Neal Adams’ work throughout the years that were digitally touched up look bad). The 90’s were the beautifully painted covers and variant issues by different artists. In the 2000’s the coloring went digital and the page quality was improved. I don’t really know what’s coming next, but it’s exciting to not know.
10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
Isn’t it obvious? Me. J