10 Questions with Chris – and Redshift Press are now on Comixology!
- Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
Hello! I’m Chris Sides, I’m the writer half of Redshift Press. We’re a small indie publisher/ distribution outlet for work that’s created by me and my long-time artist collaborator Chris Travell. As well as promoting our first self-published effort, Dark Matter, we’ve got a one-shot, Whispering Sands, in production with artist Freja Steele (@frejasteeleart, https://www.facebook.com/frejasteeleart) that we’re releasing in November and we’re hard at work on our first graphic novel, with artist Dean Sandford (http://deanzantium.tumblr.com). I’ve also got other things coming up through various other avenues, one of which my fellow collaborator Rob Cannon (http://blownminded.tumblr.com/) started to tease here, so exciting times ahead.
- What drew you to digital comics?
I’ve got to be honest, I was a massive sceptic about digital comics for a long time. A few years ago, my friend Neil kept going on about Comixology and how amazing it was and we ended up having heated discussions about how, ‘you’ll never get rid of print’ and ‘whatever, it’s not like holding a book in your hands’ etc etc and then I downloaded Comixology for myself and it blew me away and I had to eat humble pie. The ease of access was a massive factor; being able to browse this app and buy anything you wanted, whenever you wanted. The fact that it looked incredible; the colours and the artwork popped out of the screen at you. The fact that you could take your comic collection anywhere you wanted and access it anywhere you liked. I was converted and as other avenues came along, I fully embraced them.
- Webcomics or digital comics?
Both, without a doubt. From a consumer’s point of view, companies like Avatar that have been embracing both are, in my mind, embracing the future. Big names like Mark Waid and Brian K Vaughn have proven that both webcomics and digital comics are both formats that work and should be embraced. From a creator’s point of view, it’s opened the market up. Instead of going through the gatekeepers, both formats have allowed people to just do their own thing, get their stuff out there and get noticed. Whereas back in the day, you’d create this thing and have to send it to the printer and then have limited avenues for distribution, you create this thing and it’s ready, immediately and you can send it out and it can be accessed within seconds.
- What do you think works with digital comics?
Digital is changing the way we read comics. Comixology’s guided view tech, arguably, can augment the pacing of a book. What Waid did with Thrillbent and the experimental nature of building a sense of motion into the stories worked SO well on titles like The Eighth Seal. I really like the idea of what Marvel are doing with their Augmented Reality stuff in their books; being able to access creator commentaries, character bios etc. There was a title that was recently promoted by ComicsFix (Priya’s Shakti) that had employed something similar, requiring you to download an app on your phone that acted as a second screen, revealing previously hidden text, adding sound effects, making it a more immersive experience. The folks at Madefire are doing some interesting things with motion in comics too. As technology keeps moving forward, digital comics can continue to embrace this, which is very cool.
- Can digital comics replace print comics?
No, never. Subjectively, yes, but ultimately, objectively, never. There’s the obvious answer in that there’s that element of collecting the physical comics that you can’t replicate with digital versions. Action Comics #1 will always now be worth millions of dollars, due to its limited numbers, but you want to read it? Just download it. I touch on this below, but with comics, I don’t think I could stop buying print. I know people who have, but it just comes down to a personal decision. Personally, I go for a balance of both. Look at the model employed by Avatar – release a webcomic like Freakangels or Crossed and, even though it’s free, online, for all time, people were still and are still going out and spending money to get it in print.
- How can print comics work with digital comics?
Again, as I mentioned above, stuff like that second screen technology and the Augmented Reality scanning idea, where it reads the page and enhances it in some way, that’s cool.
- What don’t you like about digital comics?
I’m still a little old fashioned when it comes to this; I do like having the comic or book in my hand and when I’m finished reading, putting it on the shelf, displaying it. This is becoming such an outdated notion now, this idea of ‘ownership of things’, like you don’t ‘own’ the digital comics that you’ve bought online, of course you do, you’ve paid your money, it’s yours. But, for me, I still cling onto that idea of ‘owning’ it as a physical thing, again, something you can put on the shelf and pick up and read, rather than having to ‘log in’ or download it. It’s weird, as a few years ago, I went fully digital with music. I uploaded all my CDs to the computer and sold the physical copies and never looked back, mainly as a space saver, but because that’s where the market has gone and again, ease of access, it’s on my phone etc. I couldn’t really do that with comics. Prose, maybe. But comics and graphic novels, I don’t know…
- What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
I’m a huge fan of the stuff Avatar release, so I was an avid weekly reader of the Crossed: Wish You Were Here series. I love the stuff Thrillbent are doing too, particularly James Tynion and Jeremy Holt’s The Eighth Seal. Anthology comic 100% Biodegradable is a digital only release and is consistently excellent. Rob Humphrey’s Punching The Clock, Travis Bramble’s Side Quest Comic, Jim Kersey’s Amok Bros and Daniel Warren Johnson’s Space Mullet are all fantastic.
- Where do you see digital comics going from here?
The ‘Netflix comics companies’. That seems to be the way forward at the moment. I really like Comixology, I really like what they’ve done to try and keep that sense of ‘owning it’ when you download it and having all your issues and books stored in the cloud for you to download at a moment’s notice, but the on demand nature of TV and films, as well as the ‘binge’ watch culture seems to be starting to influence comics, so companies like ComicsFix (I do love ComicsFix, their tablet app is just brilliant) and Scribd and others, this is where it’s going to go, I reckon. That is until the zombies come and the internet crashes.
- Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
Tim West. I’ve got to plug him, not just because he’s a mate, but because what he’s been doing on his recent release Kill Spree is something that is potentially a game changer. The options he’s put in on the site are superb – you can read the story, but while you’re reading, you can compare it to the script, you can see how the artwork was composed, you can even animate it, if you chose. And that’s the sexy thing about it; the choice. He’s given you the choice on how you want to experience the story, which is very cool and I honestly haven’t seen anything quite like it.
[Redshift Press (@redshiftpress) is Chris Sides (@Sidesy1982) and Chris Travell @travellsky).
DARK MATTER, an anthology of nine short stories, is available now on Comixology (http://bit.ly/1I7B7tO), Comicsy (www.comicsy.co.uk/redshiftpress), Drive Thru Comics (http://bit.ly/1JnPqbn) and ComicsFix (https://comicsfix.com/books/dark-matter).
To follow what they’re up to, head to www.facebook.com/redshiftpress. ]