10 Questions With Marco Lopez & Rachel Distler Of Nightcrawlers

Hot on the heels of my Fund Me Friday post on this new title on crowdfunding platform Zoop, I had the chance to ask 10 Questions about digital comics to the creators.

So, here, you get 10 questions, but double the answers with Marco Lopez & Rachel Distler of Nightcrawlers.

  1. Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)

My name is Marco Lopez, and I am the co-creator and writer of The Nightcrawlers. I got my start in comics on a very little seen self-published comic I created with my good friend, Bryan Ginn, called Massively Effective. And this was around 2010, and we published it in 2012 via Comixology and Drive-Thru. Then from there, in 2015, I worked with Lion Forge Comics on some licensed properties, and the year after that, I wrote a story for Zenescope for their horror anthology series Grimm Tales of Terror. 

Fast forward to 2017 and when the second hurricane was about to hit Puerto Rico. I reached out to some friends to create the Puerto Rico Strong anthology to help the island. We teamed with Lion Forge, and the rest was history. I followed that with the Masked Republic Luchaverse line of one-shots published by Chido comics. Ivan (the owner and publisher of Chido) and I co-created that universe, we came up with the plots, and I wrote all five one-shots. 

And that long explanation brings us to today, where The Nightcrawlers is about to be published and crowdfunded by Ablaze and Zoop. I’m also currently developing animation projects with Lion Forge Animation. And I have a project set up at Spaceman Project (a publisher in Spain) and other projects I’m talking with publishers about that I can’t discuss right now.

Marco

Hey! I’m Rachel, and I’m the artist for The Nightcrawlers! I really think my start in comics was when I began drawing my own Garfield comics at age 5, but other than that, I really think of myself still getting into comics. I’ve recently been in the Big Hype anthology, and i’m currently working on an LGBT+ anthology, The Color of Always, as well as some private client work and personal comics. Naturally, this also includes The Nightcrawlers, which is easily the most ambitious project I’m working on right now, as this is my first full graphic novel. It’s been a long time coming, as Marco and I have been working on this for a few years now, and we couldn’t be happier working with Ablaze and Zoop to bring this to everyone!

Rachel

2. What drew you to digital comics?

Well, this graphic novel (and hopefully the first of many) will be in print and digital. I think both are viable mediums of distribution for the comic book industry. They each have their strengths and benefits, and weaknesses. It also depends on personal preference.

Marco

Digital comics is an exciting space, and while Marco is right, Nightcrawlers is going to be both digital and print, I think the space is still expanding for digital, because it doesn’t have to behave the same way as a page. For example, Webtoons works in a full vertical format, while Tapastic works from a more “traditional” page by page format. Heck, even taking in the work by Andrew Hussie, it goes to show that the boundaries of format can continue to be pushed by technology by integrating music, movies, games, and animation. I’m very accustomed and have a deep love of the limitations of print, but like how Hearthstone has used technology to its advantage over traditional TCGs, the digital space doesn’t have to adhere to physical limitations if it doesn’t want to.

Rachel

3. Webcomics or digital comics?

If you put a gun to my head, I’m going to say webcomics. I think there’s something more personal with the whole webcomic experience versus digital releases via ComiXology, Amazon, etc. I also think the webcomic experience can be comparable to the print experience as a fan and creator.

Marco

Personally? It’s a tough call, but I’m also going to go with webcomics. Kind of like the previous point, I like how webcomics are more fully integrated into the technology vs. digital comics, but I don’t want that to diminish my appreciation of digital comics. While I collect certain comics digitally, and think they’re also better for the environment, I often opt to get my comics in print if I can, because I’m very attached to the feel and read of paper. Maybe I’m a bit biased, though, I do still work traditionally for the most part.

Rachel

4. What do you think works with digital comics? 

The reading experience that Tapas and Line Webtoon brings to webcomics helps differentiate the medium from print. It also makes it easier to read comic books on the go and lets you read comics if you have a busy schedule. Since it’s broken up into weekly eps, like television, it gives you a very satisfying experience where you don’t have to wait a month to find out what’s going to happen next.

Marco

Distribution is one of the hugest benefits that digital has over print – no paying for shipping, much simpler logistics, instant delivery, all that. I think digital delivery should be an option on all Kickstarter comics, for sure. And, on top of that, the portability of digital comics cannot be understated. The ability to take all your comics with you while you travel or commute is amazing, and I can’t help but think about the privacy it grants you – there’s no cover for someone to see when you want to read something around others.

Rachel

5. Can digital comics replace print comics?

I don’t think there will ever be a time where digital will replace print. Maybe when tablets and phones come down to a price where anyone can just walk into a store and buy one (we’re talking sub $100 or sub $50 and the quality is just as good as something that today costs $500-$1000). I do see a day when single-issue direct market comic sales will go the way of the dodo and only be available as print items through crowdfunding and collector’s editions through publishers.
Also, sometimes you just need a break from staring at a digital screen. A vacation for your eyes, if you will, and that’s where print comes in.

Marco

At the moment, I think that’s hard to say. I used to work at a game store when the Playstation Vita was coming out, which totally lacked a physical disc drive, and opted for an entirely digital store. It didn’t do too well at the time, but honestly, in hindsight, it was just something that was ahead of its time – now there are consoles coming out without a disc drive, and people are okay with that. However, games and comics are very different media: you always need a console or PC to run a game, and it doesn’t change the experience of playing the game very much or at all. However, format changes the way you read and experience comics, so I’m going to say right now, it’s unlikely that digital will overtake physical comics soon, but I’m not going to commit and say that will be the case forever. One reason I like physical comics is for the simple enjoyment of fluidly reading from one page to the other, the way a left page guides into the right, the way the page turn can shock you with action on the right page when you flip, so you excitedly go to the left to see how it gets there. Paper is also easier on my eyes. But again, I’m kind of old-fashioned, and I don’t know how important these experiences are to the overall comics-buying public. But screens and technology are always changing, and you never have to worry about a digital store running out of copies, so there’s no denying the strengths in that.

Rachel

6. How can print comics work with digital comics?

I don’t think they can. I feel generally if you’re a print reader then you have no interest in digital and vice a versa. I think the best symbiotic relationship with print and digital is when you release a web comic or the smaller digital weekly releases that DC comics tend to do with digital first and then later collect those into trades or hardcovers through crowdfunding and or publishers.  

Marco

I don’t think print and digital has to be adversarial, pe se, I think everything is better when more options are available. Digital for some, print for others! 

Rachel

7. What don’t you like about digital comics? 

Nothing, I think they’re both great mediums, but I am a print guy. However, as a storyteller, any popular venue to get my stories out is where I want to be.

Marco

I’m a print collector by and large, because I like the intimacy of a paper book. Digital comics don’t have quite the same personal feel to me, as well as the experience of print comics that I mentioned before.

Rachel

8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read? 

I don’t read any of the digital comics released through Comixology or Amazon. I wait until they hit print. I do read webcomics. I love all the comics released through Gisele Lagace’s imprint Pixie Trix ComixUrban Animal at Webtoon, and I just got into Solo Leveling at Tapas. I’m pretty much still a newborn when it comes to Web Comics. There are just so many great series out there that sometimes for me, it’s so daunting. HAHA

Marco

I’m going to admit I haven’t read webcomics in a hot minute, but my favorites included both Horribleville and Gunshow by KC Green – I quote Horribleville probably every day. I also love Beartato by Anthony Clark, and Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton, and there probably isn’t a day I don’t think of a strip from Pictures for Sad Children by John Campbell.

Rachel

9. Where do you see digital comics going from here? 

That’s a good question, and I honestly have no idea. HAHA 

It hasn’t been anything I’ve thought about. Honestly, I think print comics, digital comics, and webcomics are perfect mediums. And it’s not so much about where they’re going or how to make them better but the type of stories that are being told. And the creators that are being published or given a chance. As long as we don’t give motion comics another try. I hate motion comics. HAHA

Marco

I think the distribution is only going to increase, especially as it becomes the medium of choice for comics readers. I imagine digital comics is only going to become more popular as portable screens and tablets become larger, and the desire to create webtoons is only growing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to making a full-fledged webcomic myself, but the freedom of creation is there, as it’s always been. Noelle Stevenson got huge with Nimona on the web, it’s just an excellent way to get your work out there without having to go through the labors of print.

Rachel

10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?

Everything at Pixie Trix Comix. Again Gisele’s not a newbie at this. She’s the queen of the castle, the empress of cool comics but I think everybody should be reading the stuff Pixie Trix puts out.

Marco

Well, like I said, it’s been a real hot minute since I really got into a webcomic, but I did recently read The Sea in You by Jessi Sheron, and while the sequel has been picked up by Iron Circus for print, the entire series is available online, and I certainly hope she continues to have more digital releases. I’m not even deep into mermaid lore, but I love how she sidesteps some common tropes while delving into more mythic mermaid representation and weaves a truly very sweet story.

Rachel

Thanks to Marco and Rachel for the excellent answers – you can back The Nightcrawlers on Zoop here – https://zoop.gg/c/thenightcrawlers – click to get notified when it goes live!

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