10 Questions with Trevor Mueller – writer of webcomic Albert The Alien which is also available on Thrillbent!
1. Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
Trevor Mueller, and I’m working on world domination. But in the meantime, I fill my time with writing a digital comic called ALBERT THE ALIEN for Mark Waid’s THRILLBENT.
2. What drew you to digital comics?
I’ve been doing webcomics for over 11 years, and self-publishing comics for about 6 years. In 2009 I wrote a story with Gabe for the READING WITH PICTURES anthology, which was nominated for two Harvey Awards. That story was ALBERT THE ALIEN, and Gabe and I really liked the character. After a few years of gestating, I pitched him on a regular web series and he agreed! Then, at C2E2 in 2013, a chance meeting with Mark Waid lead to him asking us to post the stories to his site.
3. Webcomics or digital comics?
ALBERT THE ALIEN is both. We do the vertical webcomic pages at www.AlbertTheAlien.com every Wednesday and Friday, which can easily be collected into a print collection (in fact, we’re going to launch a Kickstarter for it in May). Then we do the THRILLBENT formatted digital pages every Tuesday at www.Thrillbent.com.
4. What do you think works with digital comics?
One of the things that appealed to me about Mark’s site was that he was really trying to push the envelope of digital storytelling with THRILLBENT. He didn’t just want to put up static images you could collect in print – he wanted to play and experiment with what digital comics could do. I try to do this when we convert the ALBERT THE ALIEN pages to THRILLBENT format – we play with pacing, reveals, how panels are arranged and how the story progresses. It’s a very different reading experience, and one that lends itself well to reading online or on a device like a smart phone or tablet.
5. Can digital comics replace print comics?
Hopefully not in my lifetime, but I like print comics. I grew up with them, and I like the tangible aspect of printed comics. That said, digital comics have a huge advantage over print comics – distribution. Print comics are not available everywhere, where as anyone with an internet connect can get their hands on digital comics. That’s why we want to collect ALBERT THE ALIEN in a print collection – to give readers the opportunity to enjoy it in their preferred format.
6. How can print comics work with digital comics?
I think Mark has done an excellent job with finding a happy medium with THRILLBENT. The digital comics on the site provide a unique experience you can’t replicate with a printed story. And since digital comics can be more interactive, it wouldn’t take much to turn them into a “chose your own adventure” or provide some kind of branching storylines in digital. I’d love to do something like that.
7. What don’t you like about digital comics?
The only thing I don’t like about digital comics is that I think they’re not being used to their full potential. Digital as a medium can be much more interactive, or provide a story progression engine that’s much different from a print reading experience. For me, it’s all about the story and the characters – and if you can use the medium to tell your story better, well that’s a fun challenge. However, most people just put their print images up on the web and call it a “digital comic.” While that may be true technically, there’s so much more you can do with digital – and I can’t wait to see it.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
Quite a few. I love the titles coming out of THRILLBENT, obviously. INSUFFERABLE by Mark Waid is just brilliant, and MOTH CITY and THE EIGHTH SEAL are all kinds of fun to read. For webcomics, I mostly read my friend’s series these days. THE DREAMER by Lora Innes is an incredible book, and I highly encourage everyone to check it out. RIVAL ANGELS is a fun action story about female wrestlers by Alan Evans. I don’t even like wrestling, but he does such a great job of making you feel like you’re at an actual sporting event. BATTLE PUG by Mike Norton is a fun read, and he’s won a few awards for it. I also read PENNY ARCADE, PVP ONLINE, DREAMLAND CHRONICLES, SPINNERETTE, and a bunch more I can’t think of at the moment….
9. Where do you see digital comics going from here?
We’ll hopefully see a lot more digital publishers enter the market, and hopefully that will drive interest in genres beyond just superhero comics. Those are top sellers in the USA, but around the world there tends to be more variety in comic genres. I see a lot of publishers like IMAGE, MONKEYBRAIN, and THRILLBENT really trying to push the envelop there. Then, I’m hoping we start seeing something less passive and more interactive in the digital space for comics. I’d love to write some interactive comics, I just need to find someone willing to work on it with me. And someone who knows how to program it.
10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
I think people should be watching THRILLBENT very closely, and a lot of the creators coming out of there. They’re really working to push what digital can do, and that’s one of the things Mark looks for when he reviews stories and creators on there. Josh Elder, too, is someone who’s been working very hard to revolutionize the digital comic scene, and I think he’s going to be a mover and shaker – even if only behind the scenes – in that space.