Sunday, March 16, 2014

Komikero Publishing, Print Comics and Surviving the Digital Age

Photo by Comic Odyssey

Last Saturday’s signing at Comic Odyssey went pretty well. All the copies of “Where Bold Stars Go To Die” that the store ordered were all sold out even before I arrived. Admittedly, I arrived a bit late, which is frustrating because I’m never late. Thing was, the van we rented ran into problems and it took a couple of hours to fix.

But anyhow, I’m glad people stayed around to get their books signed, and pick up the first 10 Wasted Box Sets that were finished.

Signing Photo Gallery 1 (Danry Ocampo)

Signing Photo Gallery 2 (Comic Odyssey)

It is the Wasted Box Sets I wish to talk about here. That box set is the ultimate expression of Komikero Publishing’s reason for being, and that is to not only share stories and art, but to give readers an EXPERIENCE. That experience of actually holding a comic book in your hands. An experience that is slowly but surely being eroded by our transition into the digital age. More and more comics are now being downloaded and read on screens. That is now a fact of life. And I for one won’t stand on a pulpit frothing at the mouth railing against it. Everyone else can go digitize their comics and that’s perfectly cool.

My stories, however, will remain in print and some of my work will ONLY be available in print. I feel that touching comic books with your hands, physically flipping the pages and reading is an experience too valuable for us humans to do away with. And that is an experience everyone can still count on with Komikero Publishing for as long as I’m alive.

The other day I saw a comment on Twitter by a fellow pro. I won’t mention him anymore because that isn’t really the point. He said that two page spreads in comics should be abolished because it does’t work with digital. Deep inside my heart I just had to laugh. I didn’t want to argue so I didn’t, but I thought I’d talk about that here.

So because it doesn’t work with digital, it HAS to be abolished? From my point of view, for print to survive, there should be MORE 2 page spreads, because as it turns out, there are strengths in print that digital comics cannot possibly replicate. And one of those are 2 page spreads. And that is true. The magnificence of opening a comic book with a 2 page spread is quite an experience, and it’s one of the things that make comics such a pleasurable reading experience. I remember Alfredo Alcala’s Voltar 2 page spreads… oh man… or how about those glorious Jack Kirby two page spreads in his comic books for Marvel and DC? How about Frank Miller’s 300 where every single damned page is a 2 page spread? Even better… how about those multiple page spreads in Jim Lee’s Wildcats? In Alan Moore’s Promethea? In Frank Miller’s Ronin? Or how about those multiple page drawings by Alex NiƱo that, put together, form one gigantic panel? Digital can never hope to replicate the experience those kinds of things print comics can do. It’s something print comics can do best, and it’s something that will help keep it alive.

At Komikero Publishing, aside from keeping my comics in print, we also produce specially made box sets in cooperation with my wife’s paper crafting business.

In 2009 we made box sets of my comic book ELMER:

Each box set contains a hand bound hardcover of the comic book, original artwork, photographs and facsimiles, a certificate of authenticity, a CD with videos, all packaged within a special hand made box.

Check out my original post about it:

A close up of the hand made hardcover from my wife’s blog:

It’s our version of an Absolute book or Omnibus, but much more special and lots more extras.

This year, we’re releasing a box set of my comic book WASTED:

This box set contains a hand bound hardcover of the comic book in a slipcase, original artwork, photographs, certificate of authenticity and a handwritten letter. The letter is a real life reproduction of a letter that figures prominently in the story. Each box has one of these.

Check out my wife’s post about the Wasted box sets:

We do these boxes because as we previously mentioned, we want to share an EXPERIENCE when people read my comic books. It’s something that’s important not only to me, but to my wife as well who has devoted a significant portion of her life creating art from paper.

How in the world can you digitize this? The answer is YOU CAN’T.

However, I’m not completely closed off to the idea of digital comics. My comic book Wasted can be read completely for free online from this website. It can be read in various forms: html, cbr, mobi, pdf… it even has a special digital edition complete with videos from me.

So yeah, it’s best of both worlds.

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