Friday, August 08, 2008

Web Comics

I told you how seeing the movie 'Wanted' with James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman - I wish him a speedy recovery after his accident - got me interested in cartoons, anime, manga, animation, comics, and all these other things I can't tell apart.

My interest took me to buy the book 'Webcomics' by Steve Withrow and John Barber at Page One at the not inconsiderable cost of more than 1,000 NT dollars.

I now also finished reading the book, and I've learned two main things: you have to learn a lot of software before you can present comics online, and making money out of comics is even more difficult than doing it writing thrillers, which is what I want to do.

The book presents a ream of comic artists from the United States, Great Britain and Canada. The top name I learned about is Scott McCloud. He's supposed to be the guru of web comics, not just drawing some of its finest examples, but also published books on its theoretical underpinnings. What I'm interested in, is the practice, not the theory, but fortunately, this book also shows each artist featured going through the process of writing a comic from the pencil sketches and screenplays right up to the moment the finished work appears on the Internet.

It's not simple. There's all kinds of software involved, mostly Illustrator and Photoshop and Flash, but also more obscure stuff like Poser and the Wacom tablet. Professional graphic artists surely think all this is really simple, but I would face an uphill learning curve. And need a strong budget to afford all that software.

All in all, I'm still glad I read that book. It also told me that you have free web sites, mostly owned by individual artists who try to make a living off the merchandise, and sites where you have to register and pay. Some of those are collectives offering a wide range of comics from different artists. The names of sites I remembered the most are Modern Tales, Komikwerks and Keenspot.

Anyway, I think I'll stick to writing thrillers for the time being. Even though I need to get to 300-400 pages and 100,000 words, making a web comic of the same story seems like double the work to me: you still have to write the story, the plot, the dialogue, the characters, but when that is over, you still have to draw the whole story in pages of attractive drawings. And get the whole thing to look right on a computer screen.

Reading the book, I felt I was learning a lot, and I'll keep looking out for good comics sites, books and news about the art.

By Sean Moss for S2S.


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