Digital comics are no longer the domain of large publishers or those wishing to create their own indie comics. There has already been a history of creators using the digital medium to tell stories that they want to create. There is no need to worry about sales figures or offending parts of a potential audience.
So far in the brief history of this digital comics revolution we have had Freakangels by Warren Ellis, Disenchanted by Si Spurrier and Aces Weekly from David Lloyd.
In addition to being able to tell these stories, the creators can choose the method they wish to distribute – and to choose their price. Some are free – similar to the webcomics we all read, some are subscription – such as Aces Weekly, and some are pay as you go – for example, some of the stories on Madefire.
I would like to talk to you about “To The Death”
“To The Death” is created by Simon Furman and Geoff Senior, and before I get into the story, let’s have a look at the model.
“To The Death” gives you a free episode, the initial foray into the world that Furman and Senior have created. This is a little more than a teaser or preview – we get to meet all the main players of the world (Earth of the future) and the type of world it is. There’s action and violence, it’s a full-on action movie introduction! After this you need to pay, you have the choice of buying the whole season for a discount and getting emailed on each release. Or it is a pay as you read method – similar to buying single issues on comiXology.
Personally, I like this method. Episode 1 gives you a great feel for what you hope the rest of the story is like. We get some exciting scenes and a well rounded introduction to all the characters in the story. In addition to this, we get some extra details from the website – on one page we get details on the world, Earth in the year 2674, where Furman has furnished us with details on the state of the planet and the people. This is combined with some panels of Seniors’ art which make it look like a grim holiday brochure. Another page gives us a run-down of the cast. Not all the cast mind you, as that may spoil some later episodes.
This method of simultaneously giving us a free issue as well as some information around the story gives us evidence of a well thought out story, something worthwhile investing in.
A quick point on the delivery – when you subscribe, or buy direct from the site, you get the episode as a PDF. This is another intelligent move, and seems to now be the de-facto method of reading digital comics outside of specific websites or apps.
Each episode of To The Death has already been named – we’ve had “Home…Is The Hero” and “The Kill-Zone” and yet to come are episodes called “Hope For The Best” and “To”. We have also got a short preview of what we can expect for each one such as “A bloody duel in the lunar wilderness… and nowhere left to run.” This again shows the clarity of the plan the creators have for this series.
Prior to each episode Simon Furman has released a short preview video of each episode, this is quite a unique method and adds a new dimension to what to expect from the series.
To The Death features a fighting unit who have lived for far to long. The fight on alien worlds for the entertainment of the people back on earth as well as for the whims and profits of those in charge. Leading this group is Aleksy Dryagin, who is one of the oldest of the group. Most of what we read is from his point of view, he is strong and a leader and seems to be having his doubts about his missions even before we start! The first episode also gives us a good look at the rest of the group, who all have their own distinct personalities and thoughts – these are well built on as we have progressed through the story. Back on earth there is the family of Dryagin who are waiting for him to come home, as well as the mysterious Triumvirate who rule the planet and seem to be giving all the orders. Even more mysterious than that, at the beginning of each episode is the journal of Deacon Snow, who has his own plans for Dryagin and the Earth.
As a method of delivery and a read, this is excellent – you can read it on your phone, your tablet or on your computer. The art and the storyline is compelling and it finishes off brilliantly!
For previews of each Episode check them out here