10 questions about digital comics with Ryan O’Sullivan – writer of Turncoat, and Void Trip (out this week!)
I’m really pleased with this – Ryan has Void Trip from Image Comics coming out this week with Artist Plaid Klaus. I’m really looking forward to it, I was a backer on their Turncoat Kickstarter and can’t wait for this!
1. Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
My name is Ryan O’Sullivan and I am the writer of Void Trip, a new comic series coming out through Image Comics on November 22nd of this year that I’m working on alongside illustrator and co-creator Plaid Klaus.
2. What drew you to digital comics?
Void Trip is both physical and digital. But Klaus and I worked on a book before this called Turncoat. Turncoat started out life as a digital comic, a webcomic specifically, and the appeal of releasing it as a webcomic was that, as it was our first comic, it gave us a lot of freedom in terms of reaching the audience we wanted. We did a lot of advertising for it, primarily on Project Wonderful, Reddit, and Facebook, and were able to tap into a small-but-dedicated readership that helped not only the webcomic become a success, but the kickstarted graphic novel of the collection, do absolute gangbusters!
3. Webcomics or digital comics?
They’re the same thing, ultimately. But I’d say webcomics all the way. You can plan a release schedule that fits you, a website reading experience that fits you, you can control your own “branding”, and you have direct control over building the audience you want – you’re not reliant on a specific vendor platform limiting your digital audience readership. With that said, some platforms are massive. Kickstarter is an absolute beast, as is Webtoons and Comixology. This is not necessarily an advantage, however, as you have a lot of people competing for the same space. But if you can carve out a profitable niche in one of them, then yeah I’d say they’re probably better for creators, financially at least, than pure webcomics.
4. What do you think works with digital comics?
Access and adaption. Access in that you’re able to plug into anyone with an internet connection, at least theoretically. You’re not beholden to the whim of a larger market or industry. You’re creating in isolation, and that’s a good thing. Adaption in that, as you’re not in a larger market or industry, you can adapt your deliverance model based on the changing consumption habits of your audience.
5. Can digital comics replace print comics?
People said the same thing when the Kindle first came out. And now Kindle sales have stabilised and book sales are rising again. I don’t think digital replaces print comics, as much as it compliments it. I know that Marvel, DC, and some of the larger publishers are finding that sequential single-issues released are impacted by the digital market, the same can’t really be said for independent graphic novels. Put it this way, my first webcomic, Turncoat, was available for free online whilst I ran a Kickstarter for the trade collection of it. It being free online didn’t stop people buying the physical book. If anything, it was the chief reason they bought the physical book.
6. How can print comics work with digital comics?
Anyone who buys a physical copy of a comic should also be given a free download code for a digital comic of that same book. Oh, and the digital download code should be universal, not platform specific. If I’m buying a digital comic, I don’t want to have to install your app to read it. Let me put it in a CBR reader or on Comixology.
7. What don’t you like about digital comics?
As a creator, I find it harder to use them for reference. It’s much easier to flick through physical comics.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
I read all of my Marvel and DC comics digitally. They have these huge collections online you can subscribe to and doing a deep dive into all that stuff is ace. Plus seeing old comics I read as a kid digitally retouched for HD tablets is pretty damn awesome. I also back a lot of Kickstarters, so I’m forever reading digital comics for stuff I’ve pledged for.
9. Where do you see digital comics going from here?
Eventually Amazon will wizen up and rename Comixology to “Amazon Comics”. And then digital comic sales will skyrocket. Until then, it’ll just be what we have now.
10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
Stuart McCune is definitely one to look out for. He’s a great writer, and runs regular Kickstarters for his comics. He’s currently serialising his newest series – The Human Beings – which is excellent. Ryan K Lindsey is another digital-exclusive comics Kickstarterer. Primarily of his ongoing series Deer Editor, but he’s also dropping in all kinds of new interesting stories in his Kickstarters. He does a couple per year. Definitely worth checking out. Chris Lewis is another one doing the Ryan K Lindsey model. He’s actually still running a Kickstarter for the first issue in his newest digital-exclusive series, Mitch Hammer. Highly recommended. Also, there’s a comic called Void Trip coming out on November 22nd that will be available on Comixology. Definitely worth a look. (That wasn’t too shameless a self-plug, was it?)