1. Who are you and what are you working on right now?
My name is Samuel Dale, I’m a writer, animator and visual effects artist. I’m currently working on a Transmedia project called Naomi Indigo, which follows the adventures of a detective in a corrupted world, where most of humanity has embraced a very bad idea.
2. What drew you to digital comics?
I’ve done a few web and phone series, which featured lots of animation and virtual sets. I can’t really draw, but it struck me there was no reason why I couldn’t use my normal techniques to create a comic to tie into the new web series that I was developing. Originally, I had planned to make the web series my main focus, but it quickly became clear that I could tell a lot more story, and do more spectacular things, in the comic. I’m used to trying to create 25 gorgeous frames for every second of moving footage, which is not always possible. Because of the volume, there lots of compromises made when composting moving footage, even on a massive production like Lord of The Rings or Star Wars, but in a comic you can really labour over every single box. For me, creating 100 to 120 boxes (or frames as I still think of them) for a comic was a really liberating and exciting experience. I was seduced by the whole process. Now the comic has become my main focus and web series has become more like a teaser for the comic.
3. Webcomics or digital comics?
I would have to say digital comics.
4. What do you think works with digital comics?
From a purely technical point of view darkness (in particular) and colour (in general) works much better in a digital comic. Although printing technology has improved massively over the last 20 years or so, you’re still dealing with a lot of variables when it comes to colour reproduction. When you have something printed, you often find that the proof is only good for a couple of weeks because, after that, the ink levels and various other things will have changed at the printers so, for me, there’s too little control. I really like high contrast, bright colours and genuine blacks, so I wouldn’t hesitate to say our comic looks better on almost any screen than it does printed, even if everything has gone right with the print run.Having said all that, I know there are people who find the vagaries of the print process to be part of the appeal, in much the same way as some film makers still prefer shooting on celluloid, so it really is a question of personal taste. For comics and movies, digital works best for me, but it’s really not an either/or question, it’s about what works best for the individual creator and their audience.
5. Can digital comics replace print comics?
No I don’t think so, and it would be a shame if they did. Searching through racks or boxes for a particular comic, for example, is a pleasurable experience for many people, which cannot be replicated or replaced by digital comics. Of course, there are other things that are equally peculiar to digital comics so, as I said before, it’s not really and either/or question. There are definitely quantifiable advantages, purely from a reproduction point of view, to digital comics. But, there is so much more to any art form than how a certain aspect of the production or delivery method works that it’s impossible to make any definitive statement beyond a purely personal and circumstantial preference.
6. How can print comics work with digital comics?
That’s a good question, and I’m not sure if I have an answer. I have certainly followed some comics or characters in a range of formats. I started following one of the New 52 titles with the printed monthly books, then a I fell behind and got a printed TP, followed by a digital TP then, when I’d caught up, I went back to the printed comic. I’m probably more concerned with following a story or character than anything else, so the format really doesn’t bother me. I do think digital comics offer an opportunity for people to launch their own titles and ideas, which might then help them break into comics. So, from that point of view, perhaps digital comics have the potential to enrich comics in general.
7. What don’t you like about digital comics?
I don’t particularly like the “guided experience” you get with some digital comic readers, where it leads you from one box to another without letting you see the whole page properly. To me, that seems a very un-comic-like reading experience. But, if a comic has been designed with that format in mind, I’m sure it would work very well. So, I suppose what I really don’t like is when people try to shoehorn a comic into a format which it wasn’t designed for, or impose an experience on the reader without proper forethought.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
I’m not sure if this is the answer you want, but I generally read digital editions of printed comics. I’ve followed various titles on and off since the early 90s, but now I get everything I can digitally. I’ll read anything by Brian K Vaughan, and recently had a massive binge on his digital back catalogue. I’m more interested in reading a good story from beginning to end than owning a physical copy of something so, over the last few years, I’ve filled in a lot of blanks with readily available digital editions of things I had trouble following when they were only in print.
9. Where do you see digital comics going from here?
Obviously, I’m very interested in the idea of telling stories over multiple platforms, movies, comics, etc, so I’d like to see more people looking for new and interesting ways to do that, and I think digital comics have a lot of potential in this area.
10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
At the risk of sounding evasive, I’m always looking out for people and things I haven’t heard of. One of my favourite things is to learn a new word or an interesting fact. In terms of comics, books, film or television, discovering and falling in love with something totally new is always the most exciting part of the experience for me.