Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
My name is Bruno Stahl; I’m a comic book creator with works published with Heavy Metal Magazine and Image Comics. I am currently promoting my two latest comic projects, Spacewarp and Boom Bandits, which were done back-to-back. As they are both creator-owned comics, the marketing side of it never actually ends.
What drew you to digital comics?
I’ve come from a lineage of printers from Germany (that’s what Stahl means in German “he who comes from a line of ink slingers”). 4 generations in the business as far I can tell.
I remember visiting my grandad at his printing job in a time when Printers looked more like coal miners, working in those huge warehouses, operating heavy machinery, overalls covered in ink. Those were the days …. Nah, I’m not really nostalgic about it.
Thank f#% for the digital revolution!
It empowers creators and brings in more diversity to what used to be a rather male-centric medium. I love the punk-ish attitude of digital creators and the complete disregard for the “old guard”, which is basically one of the central themes in Boom Bandits.
Webcomics or digital comics?
I have no preference, I tend to evaluate it on a story bases. You can use the benefits and limitations of your chosen platform to experiment with more creative ways of telling your story.
What really matters to me is that digital comics are possibly the post-Image Comics, creator’s right revolution we’ve been waiting for. The jobbers in the industry feel threatened by it ( they can’t get their heads around the success of Webtoons for instance) and I can’t help but sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude.
What do you think works with digital comics?
That vertical scrolling, man! I’ve got a soft spot for vertical panels and would like to explore it further with digital comics. Generally speaking, as long as you have a compelling story and striking artwork, I see no reasons why something wouldn’t work.
Some rules from traditional publishing still apply to digital; make sure you have a quality product people would like to buy. Tell a relatable story from an angle that only you can tell. Make sure you hone those basic drawing skills ON PAPER before going full digital (trust me, you won’t regret it!).
A digital platform will only – for good and for bad – enhance whatever you add to it.
Can digital comics replace print comics?
It’s a possibility. I believe both will still co-exist for a long time. I don’t see print going away any time soon. But that could happen. We should be ready for it way before the writing is on the wall.
How can print comics work with digital comics?
They can work well together. Spacewarp has been quite successful in that regard. It’s been released both in digital and print, with a considerable number of readers buying both formats. More money in the creator’s pockets is never a bad thing!
We’re following a similar path with Boom Bandits, which will be also released in both formats with the difference that we’ve made the first five pages available for free in digital, from my website. If you like what you read, you can then purchase the comic in your format of choice.
What don’t you like about digital comics?
The impossibility of having those wonderful double spreads. There’s one in Boom Bandits but you’ll only be able to enjoy it in print as screen limitations don’t allow it.
I personally prefer paper; printing a book is an art form in itself and I enjoy that aspect, as you would guess by now. And boy, they look good on the shelf!
Ultimately, anything that empowers creators will have my full support!
What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
Drugs&Wires. I really like the newsprint approach to the first episode and the animated panels in subsequent episodes. It also deals with topics that are actually relevant to our generation rather than playing to the old, tired tropes of laser guns in outer space or the “classic” cyberpunk hot-babe/sex robot crap.
Again, an example of a hot, digital creative team that doesn’t give two f#%s for the old guard.
I like to think Boom Bandits touch upon similar topics without paying tribute to a pop culture that has essentially ossified, becoming a nostalgia fest in the process.
I’ve also read the first 9 or so episodes of Lore Olympus, good stuff! Possibly the most successful comic book ever created? The numbers are astonishing! 4.8 million subscribers reading it every week, plus the non-subscribed readers like myself. It’s doing gangbusters! This is far more than the Image Comics sales combined during its heydays!
Rachel Smythe is probably a millionaire by now, the comic is loved by millions of readers all over the world and yet, mainstream articles reporting on her success treat it as a niche trend. Are you kidding me? Spider-Man is niche in contrast with those numbers! That’s how much the gatekeepers in the industry fear that power shift.
Where do you see digital comics going from here?
I see non-stop growth. The widespread idea that kids don’t read comics anymore is non-sense.
That’s the only truth for the monthly/weekly convoluted, work-for-hire, garbage publishers insist on shoving down their reader’s throats. YA Graphic Novels, Webtoons are there to prove that a healthier, creator-driven comics industry is possible and benefits us all equally.
Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
Apart from the aforementioned digital comics, any creator daring to carve their own path, the ones refusing to sign away their rights for a miserable pay cheque. I think the new generation of digital creators aren’t willing to bend over and backwards to please their paymasters anyway. We’re simply not wired in that way.
These are the creators to look out for.