Posts Tagged ‘comic books’

Read Your Favorite Flash Based CO2 Comics on an iPad or iPhone!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

One of my biggest criticisms of Apple’s iPad (and the iPhone for that matter) was its inability to read Flash. This was particularly irksome to me since the CO2 Comics site depends on a Flash viewer to display all of the great comics that we have to offer. We use Flash primarily for its stability and it makes our viewer particularly compatible with motion comics like Bernie Mireault’s  The Jam Urban Adventure.

I was not in a hurry to get a tablet, especially one that could not read Flash. I knew that when I eventually bought one it most likely would be the iPad since I swear by my iMac, tote around an iPhone, and would want all to interact seemlessly on the old iCloud. But to me an iPad was just a big iPhone and I am completely happy sitting in front of my computer in my studio, surfing the net and reading webcomics on my 17″ monitor.

I’m not excited about the idea of buying a comic app to read on a device. I’d rather have the comic book whenever possible and there is so much free comic content on the web, I could read comics forever without spending a dime.

So tablets did not impress me. They are just another tekkie device attempting to flip over the consumer and shake every last shekel out of our already thinly worn pockets.

But hey, I’m an old fart. What do I know?

When an iPad mini migrated into our home to be used primarily by my wife and daughter (my son’s Macbook Pro is tattooed to him as is his iPhone) I squeamishly explored its browser capabilities, sadly confirming its inability to read Flash. This became an even bigger issue, however,  when my wife discovered she could not play Farmville, her favorite Flash based Facebook game.

Oh! The horrors!!

So I sat in front of my trusty iMac and explored. I quicky discovered a number of apps claiming to enable the iPad to be able to view Flash, all with varied reviews. iSwifter caught my attention. It was a cloud based server designed for games, that quicky translated your interaction back to your device. It was FREE! It could play Farmville! Surely it could handle the CO2 Comics viewer.

Well, the app was free…for fifteen minutes each day for a week after which it was $9.99 for unlimited usage.  After I got knocked off when my first fifteen minutes expired it was worth the ten bucks to me not to have to wait twenty-four hours to take another stab at experimenting with it. (Sucker!)

Sure enough, it worked as promised. It was fast. The images were clear. Farmville worked great. I could read all the comics on CO2 Comics with some minor snafus. It needs Wi-Fi and does not work at all on the iPhone. The CO2 Comics Flash viewer worked fine and it jumped nicely from page to page but the browser was locked into a horizontal view and I could not significantly change the size of the image. This forced me to have to center the comic viewer on the screen and scroll up and down. I could not control the scrolling action at all by touching the comic page in the viewer. I could only use the tiny available border visible on each side of the image. If I happened to accidentally touch a link, I was off to a different site. With a little practice I was navigating CO2 Comics like a pro and I was satisfied despite the quirks.

Screw Farmville! I can read CO2 Comics on an iPad!

I was happy until I sat down to write this post. I did some more research on the subject and came across this list of Alternative Browsers for the iPad compiled by Craig Nansen that appeared on a 2011 post on Wired Educator:

Diigo Browser (free) – Chrome-like, with annotation and offline reading (formerly iChromy)

iSWiFTER (Free)

Atomic Web Browser ($0.99) – Browse FullScreen w/ Download Manager & Dropbox

Cloud Browse ($2.99)

iCab Mobile (Web Browser) ($1.99)

Grazing Web Browser ($1.99)

Skyfire Web Browser ($4.99) and $2.99 for the iPhone.

Puffin Web Browser ($0.99)

Opera Mini Web browser (free)

After reading the reviews and the comments, the Puffin Web Browser, which was actually FREE, stood out as a viable option. I couldn’t argue with free so I downloaded the app to check it out.

Boy am I glad I did!

The comic reading experience in the Puffin Web Browser was great! So much better than iSwifter. I can’t believe I almost settled for something so mediocre. The thing I like most about Puffin is the ability to zoom in and out with no discretion. The images slide across the screen with a sweep of the finger. There are some artifacts in the images. They are more noticeable on black and white images and become more apparent, naturally, when the image is larger but they are not that big of a distraction from the reading experience, at least no more than the funky printing on the old newsprint comics.

One other plus about Puffin is that it does work without Wi-Fi enabled. It is slower on Verizon’s 3G network but it gets the job done if you have the patience to wait 5-10 seconds to turn a page.

Puffin is also available for the iPhone! So, being the curious goat that I am, I quickly downloaded the app to my iPhone. Sure enough, I can now read CO2 Comics on my cell as well, though my suspicions were confirmed. I just can’t seem to enjoy reading comics on a little cell phone screen. If I wanted to read comics that small I’d go buy some penny gum and read the comic adventures of Bazooka Joe. Unfortunately they no longer include those tiny printed gems with those crusty little pink and chewy bricks of gum. What’s next? Hostess cupcakes? ( I know. I know. Sad isn’t it?)

Reading CO2 Comics on the iPhone using Puffin Web Browser was pretty much just like reading them on the iPad except everything was smaller and it did move a bit slower. Buttons and links were harder to navigate because of their shrunken size and though I could zoom in and out just as easily, I needed to do it so much more often that it became a bore. I at least know now that if I ever need a comic fix all I have to do is pull out my iPhone but I’d much rather read comics on a tablet, laptop, or desktop if no printed comic book is available.

So there you have it. A resounding, YES! You can read and enjoy Flash based comics on the iPad and the iPhone! Next time you have the urge to drop 99¢ on a comics app in Comixology to read one comic on your tablet remember that there are over a thousand pages of great comics right here on CO2 Comics that are just one FREE app away.

And don’t worry, if you would really much rather have a printed book, we have them too! Just click on that cool ad blinking at the bottom of this page!

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Free Comic Book in My Mailbox!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

I am always amazed at the quantity and quality of the junk mail that arrives in the form of catalogs via the United States Postal Service nearly each and every day. Printed in full color on glossy stock, perfectly bound and usually fairly thick containing, sometimes, hundreds of pages of content. I have one that just came from Dover Saddlery (yes, we have horses) that contains 352 pages!

Why couldn’t some of these be comic books or contain comics in them? You can bet that I would spend more time hunting through them if I knew I would find a comic feature that I could grow attached to.

The Superhero Catalogue with SNYDERMAN , art by Joe Kubert

Back in the late seventies there was The Superhero Catalogue published by Superhero Enterprises featuring the character Snyderman drawn by the legendary Joe Kubert.  The whole catalog was laid out like a comic book and sold every available superhero merchandise imagineable.  I went nuts every time I got one in the mail!

Read the Jordan Marsh catalog by Gerry Giovinco and Mitch O'Connell

Back in the eighties Comico produced a fashion catalog for Jordan Marsh that was packaged in the form of a comic book. The catalog, illustrated by Mitch O’Connell and scripted by me, actually won awards from Advertising Age Magazine as a direct mail promotion.

The Disney Catalog for a brief time inserted previews of the W.I.T.C.H. comic that was packaged similar to popular manga. You know I looked for that when it came for my kids. I always wondered why more catalogs didn’t do the same, especially now with the popularity of comic heroes in all forms of media.

To my surprise a catalog doing its best to mimic the idioms that define comic books recently showed up in my mailbox, sent by the most unlikely source, UMBC, an Honor University in Maryland.

Click here to view the UMBC Catalog

My son, who is a senior in high school with great academic standings has attracted the attention of the admission boards of many colleges who now flood our mailbox daily with richly produced catalogues, most of which feature beautiful pictures of sprawling campuses, active student lifestyles and, of course, esteemed learning environments which is to say that they all look the same.

UMBC, regarded by CBS 60 Minutes as one of the most innovative schools in the country, proved their ability to step outside the box by sending my son an admissions catalog cleverly disguised as a comic book. It was trimmed to comic book size with thirty two pages, chock full of panels and text boxes, and, though there was not a single word bubble with a pointy little tail, a very stylish Anime font was used throughout. The covers featured students striking heroic poses, one even wearing a mask, posturing to the prevalent  theme of Change the World.”

My immediate reaction as a comic art enthusiast was of pure amazement that an institution of higher education would embrace comic books to attract students. I remember a time when even kindergarden teachers scorned comics as fodder for the ignorant and uneducated. Hell, Mitt Romney probably believes that comic books are all that 47% of Americans are capable or willing to read. Why not? Obama reads them!

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

But times are changing. Comics do get much more respect these days, especially since the advent of the graphic novel. Even University of the Arts, a school that scorned comics when Bill Cucinotta and I attended back when it was the Philadelphia College of Art, has a new attitude towards comics They must!  They had Neil Gaimen, celebrated comic author of Sandman and Coraline, deliver the Keynote Address at their 2012 graduation ceremony! He  was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts along with another comic creator, Philadelphia Inquirer editorial cartoonist Tony Auth.

UMBC Marketing Director, Erika Ferrin, explained that this edition of the admissions catalog which they refer to as a viewbook, was part of an ongoing Heroes campaign that has been very successful for the university.

Inspired by the popularity of Harry Potter, Twilight and superhero films with the teen market, Ferrin chose to focus on the heroic attributes of those characters when marketing to graduating high school students. She realized that students that came to UMBC had unique intellectual and creative abilities that, when honed at the university, allowed them to realize their potential of heroically impacting the world.

Erica worked with in-house designers Erin Ouslander and Jim Lord to develop the visuals for the campaign of which the viewbook evolved from. The end result is a beautifully packaged presentation printed on very heavy stock, intelligently designed and very respectful of the comics medium which they took great pains to research while developing the graphics which were all rendered from the ground up without using a comic or manga template program. The catalog has enjoyed a distribution of upwards to 50,000 copies most of which were delivered by mail.

This type of innovation is what makes UMBC a leader in education. It’s the type of innovation that the comics industry needs to employ to expand the marketplace. I know I’d like to see more comic books in my mailbox. How about you?

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Kirby4Heroes: A Granddaughter’s Campaign to Honor Jack Kirby’s 95th Birthday

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Celebrating  what would have been Jack Kirby’s 95th birthday and his illustrative carreer as possibly the greatest and most influential comic creator ever, we at CO2 Comics are proud and honored to present our blog as a forum to his granddaughter, Jillian Kirby, to promote her exceptional campaign, Kirby4Heroes, a noble effort to raise funds in Jack Kirby’s name for the Hero Initiative.

Jillian’s post:

As I sit on my bed reading one of my grandfather, Jack Kirby’s, comic books, his characters explode off the page and appear vividly lifelike. I feel like Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, and the Fantastic Four are parading in front of me! At 16 years old, it makes me so sad that I never got to meet my grandfather, who died the year before I was born, but I feel his spirit everywhere. Growing up surrounded with his art, comic books, and family stories, I felt the need to make a stronger connection with the grandfather I never knew.  A 95th birthday present to honor his legacy struck me as an obvious choice, but what could I do?

The spark that ignited my Kirby4Heroes campaign occurred last spring at the dinner table, where my parents, Connie and Neal, were discussing an organization called the Hero Initiative. I learned that the Hero Initiative is the only nonprofit charity that raises money to assist comic book creators, writers and artists in medical or financial need. The mission and uniqueness of this organization immediately impressed me, as I couldn’t believe that currently they are the only nonprofit charity of this kind in the comic book industry.

Then and there, I made a personal commitment to raise money for the Hero Initiative in honor of my grandfather Jack on his 95th birthday. He was a very kind and generous man and would have been among the first to support the Hero Initiative.

One example of my grandfather Jack’s charitable nature can be seen in an anecdote my father shared with me on many occasions. It took place during the Bar Mitzvah of my grandfather’s nephew in a Lower East Side Manhattan synagogue in the early 1960’s.  After the service, his nephew’s family, being of modest means, had just a simple buffet served in the large entrance foyer of the synagogue.  Noticing a homeless man standing in the open doorway, just looking in at the celebration, my grandfather Jack immediately walked over to the man, took him by the arm, led him into the room, sat him down at a table, and served him a plate of food. Not a word was spoken between the two men. My grandfather, himself having grown up in poverty, knew hunger. This act of kindness, typical of my grandfather, inspired me to raise money and awareness for the Hero Initiative, because a charity that helps others in the comic book community and gives aid to those in need exemplifies the devotion my grandfather Jack always had for his fellow man.

Here was my idea. First, since I have lived in California my whole life, and my grandfather lived here for almost 30 years, I would contact over 200 comic book retailers in my home state. Second, as my grandfather Jack was born in Manhattan, I would also get in touch with the major comic retailer in that city: Midtown Comics. Third, I would contact key science and art museums in select metropolitan areas, such as New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. It is obvious why I would contact the art museums, but science? Not so much. I decided to approach the science museums because much of my grandfather’s artwork was influenced by and reflects not only the science and technology of his day, but what he envisioned for the future.

After sending out an initial cover letter to the retailers and museums previously mentioned, I personally visited my neighborhood comic book store, Alakazam! Comics in Irvine, CA. This enabled me to get a general feel of how comic stores would react to my Kirby4Heroes campaign. At first, I was pretty nervous and stumbled over my words a bit, but by the end of the explanation of my campaign, because Will Call, the store’s manager, was very enthusiastic and supportive, I gained a great deal of confidence. Mr. Call agreed to set up a donation jar, and he and the store’s owner, Marco Davanzo, additionally pledged to donate 10% of their profits on August 28th to the Hero Initiative! As this was the first comic book retailer I approached, the positive feedback I received from them gave me the impetus to personally contact many major comic book retailers in California, such as Meltdown Comics, Earth-2 Comics, Comics N Stuff, and A-1 Comics, as well as many smaller individual stores.

My Kirby4Heroes campaign was off and running! In total, I contacted over 200 comic book stores by U.S. mail, email, telephone calls, or personal visits. I designed and provided the retailers with a flyer advertising my campaign, a collection jar label, a Kirby4Heroes remittance card and website information for online donations. As a result, many retailers included this information in newsletters, on their Facebook pages and websites in order to reach as many fans as possible. I was hesitant at first about the campaign’s large scale, but my enthusiasm escalated and my concerns disappeared thanks to the outpouring of goodwill from all.

For the next phase of my campaign, my family room was transformed into a mini video production studio. I wrote, produced, and edited a video explaining and advertising the Kirby4Heroes cause. My friend, Daniel, helped direct and set up certain shots. I later was fortunate enough to work with Seth Laderman, the Head of Production of the Nerdist Channel on YouTube, who generously donated his time to help me put some finishing touches on the Kirby4Heroes video. Working with Mr. Laderman was such an educational experience. Geoff Boucher, of the Los Angeles Times Hero Complex, wrote a fantastic article about my campaign and posted my video. Mr. Boucher’s support and encouragement have been constant throughout the duration of this campaign, and his article was instrumental in spreading the word about the Kirby4Heroes cause far beyond the comic book stores. Two days later, the video was released on YouTube via the Nerdist Channel.

I knew that my grandfather Jack was well regarded in the comic book industry, and the reception I have received confirms it. Sometimes I feel his spirit with me, especially when I’m reading comic book anthologies or biographies of my grandfather. I felt him looking over my shoulder when I visited comic book stores, because of how his home had an open door policy and he would let anyone visit, just as the comic book retailers were so welcoming to me. I have been met with such an outpouring of support, and it has truly touched my heart.

When I first started Kirby4Heroes, I was advised to think small, just start with one comic book store. Did Jack Kirby think small?  Thank God, no! He let his imagination soar to heights that have entertained and enlightened us for almost 75 years! So, I went as big as I could, given the time and manpower limitations, and so far this campaign has turned out better than I could ever have imagined! I thank all of the comic book retailers, fans, Geoff Boucher and the rest of the news media, Seth Laderman at the Nerdist Channel, my other grandfather, Gene, my extended Kirby family, and finally my parents, for their guidance. My utmost gratitude is given to CO2 Comics, who provided me the opportunity to share my story. Most of all, I thank my grandfather, Jack Kirby, and all comic book creators in the industry. I’m sure countless fans do the same when they enjoy comic books, characters in movies, and other comic book driven entertainment media.

I need you to support the Kirby4Heroes campaign as well. Today is the day! Please watch my video for further details about how to donate in honor of Jack Kirby’s 95th birthday! For all the fans out there, here’s how you can be a part of the Kirby4Heroes campaign. One way is to visit your local comic book store, or you can mail a donation to the Hero Initiative at this address:

c/o The Hero Initiative
11301 Olympic Blvd., #587
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Finally, you can donate online at the Hero Initiative website via Paypal, and be sure to type “Kirby4Heroes” where it asks for special instructions.

This journey has not only been deeply satisfying for me as an emotional connection with my grandfather, but conceiving, planning and implementing the Kirby4Heroes campaign has been an invaluable learning experience. Sometimes when I gaze upon grandpa Jack’s drawing board in our small den, I can feel his presence with me.  Because of founding this campaign, I know that he is smiling down on me with pride. I also know that he would want each and every one of you to reach out to the Hero Initiative just as he, long ago, reached out to that downtrodden man in the doorway of the synagogue in New York. Even a dollar can make a difference! The Kirby4Heroes campaign and I thank you so much for your support!

Jillian Kirby

CO2 Comics would like to extend our support to Jillian’s Kirby4Heroes campaign by donating our entire share of all profits made from any of our printed publications sold during the week of Aug 28th-Sept 4th.

This is your opportunity to try something new and contribute to a good cause.


Curiosity for Mars

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

The first time I was conscious of the red planet was when I was four years old and watched the movie Santa Claus Conquers the Martians which featured a very young Pia Zadora as a Martian child. I’m sure I had already been exposed to plenty of other extraterrestrial worlds from having spent countless hours scanning the comics section of the newspaper, drawn to the futuristic likes of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, but the inclusion of Santa, of whom I was a firm believer, captivated my young imagination. The concept of Martian civilization was as real to me as the elves at the North Pole.

Needles to say, I was fortunate to have grown up during the Space Race and could not have been more impressionable as American astronauts set their sites on the Moon. Like most boys in that era I surrounded myself with space paraphanalia. My brothers and I had all kinds of space related toys, my favorite of which were the Major Matt Mason action figures and his giant friend from the Moon, Captain Laser.

Though I was in the midst of recovering from open heart surgery that summer of 1969, I was as captivated as any person on the planet when when Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on the Moon. Hanging above my bed as I watched the scratchy videos on a black-and-white television were several paper models that I had built of the Lunar Module (LEM) from a Gulf station promotional giveaway.

My fascination for extraterrestrial life was heightened by a stories of alien abductions and the books by Eric von Daniken, most notably Chariots of the Gods?. Of course there was no shortage of science fiction from TV, film, books, and comics to fuel my interest. I spent many a day building and launching model rockets. Earth is great but my head was in the stars. Comic books ultimately gave me my greatest escape to other worlds where adventures in another galaxy were just a panel away.

As a nation we seem to have lost interest in space exploration. There have been no more “manned” trips to the moon since 1972 and all human space activity has taken place on the International Space Station which orbits the Earth about 16 times a day at a low altitude of just over 200 miles above the planet. Launches of the space shuttle had been the most spectacular events that have included actual astronauts since the Moon walks. Perhaps our interest in space travel has been marred by the two space shuttle tragedies as we watched the crews of Challenger and Columbia lose their lives in dramatic catastrophes.

Comico Challenger Memoriam by Gerry Giovinco

Robots are the new pioneers as they venture to other planets guided by Earth bound technicians. Orbiting satellites,  probes, landers, rovers and telescopes have given us the opportunity to witness the surface of other planets, experiment on the content of their atmosphere and soil, and view the outer reaches of space, effectively looking back in time to the beginnings of the Universe.

This week, the rover Curiosity landed on Mars to much jubilation. Maybe the country, which was enjoying a burst of nationalistic pride garnered from the successes of Team U.S.A.’s olympic athletes competing in London, is feeling adventurous again. I got a special nostalgic thrill by looking at the tracks left in the soil by the rover, reminding me of those first footprints on the Moon over forty years ago.

The crystal clear 360° photos from Curiosity of the Martian landscape are intoxicatingly inviting and conjure images of Alan Moore’s  Dr. Manhattan walking naked across the terrain in the most successful graphic novel, Watchmen.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Curiosity sent pictures back of the blue doctor’s giant glass palace? I guess that would be a huge stretch of the imagination but hey, I still believe in Santa Claus. Maybe we’ll see photos of those Martians that kidnapped him and those two little kids.

Hmmm… curious.

Gerry Giovinco


The Olympics, Superheroes and Comic Books

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

I grew up watching the Olympics during the Cold War. The Olympic games to me were as much a competition between athletes as it was a battle between Democracy and the Communist Block. It was, in fact, an epic conflict driven by propaganda, heavily promoted by both sides.

As a young boy fascinated by superheroes and comic books, the athletes easily grabbed my attention. They were living super heroes! They were the fastest, strongest, most agile, determined men and women on the planet competing head-to-head in a war of good verses evil on a global stage. Like superheroes their uniforms were emblazoned with logos and distinct colors that identified their allegiance to the flag of their country.

Every competition played out like an adventure from a comic book. Each athlete was a character with a unique story and a goal, motivated by love of country and principles of political righteousness and good sportsmanship. Their struggles unfolded before our eyes as the tension of suspense  played out to the tune of the Olympic anthem and climaxed with “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

There is a sense of life-and-death finality to the results of the Olympic games that make the drama so great. For most of the athletes, their dream to win a gold medal and stand atop the podium representing their country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Few get the chance to redeem a failure since the Olympic games occur only every four years, closing the window of peak performance for even the greatest athletes. At least for the athletic careers of many of the competitors, winning the gold requires a do-or-die mentality that adds to the heroism of their efforts.

Even the setting of the Olympics is an environment of futuristic fantasy. The host city of every Olympic game spares no expense to create a sporting plaza that exceeds the expectations of modern technology. Arenas with state of the art architecture and technology, built to accommodate a one-time audience that gathers from around the world creating the illusion of a global, peace-loving community. Behind the scenes however always lies the intrigue of threat from terrorists, protestors and criminal minds focused on using the visibility of the Olympics to draw attention to their heinous acts.

The parallel perspective of athletes to superheroes dates back to the mythological origins of the ancient Greek games heralding the battle between the great gods Zeus and Kronos for dominance of the world and the adventures of the demi-god Hercules who it is said was the only contestant at the first Olympic games though he did manage to wrestle his father,  Zeus to a draw.

Today’s Olympic athletes are faster, leaner, stronger than those that I watched as a child. Advances in media technology give audiences of the world  a high definition view of every ripple in their muscles, every bead of sweat on their brow and every fiber  in their aerodynamic uniforms that have changed dramatically since the modern Olympic games have begun.

Today’s athlete’s uniforms make them look more like characters from comic books than ever before with shiny, tight and skimpy designs made to enhance their performances. Olympic athletes and photographers even find ways to prove that the popular comic book device known as the broke back pose is possible to achieve. The vast audiences prove  that the Olympics and their many sponsors have not forgotten how to use sex successfully as a marketing tool.

With all of the similarities between the Olympics and super hero comic books it would be nice if the millions of people that are watching the Olympics world-wide would saunter over to a local comic shop and discover for themselves that the widely considered small niche market of super hero comics may have a broader appeal than the general public suspects. It may not be just a small male demographic that enjoys looking at muscles, defined figures, sexy images, and thrilling to adventurous competition focused on world dominance after all. Just keep that Olympic torch out of the comic shop please.

Enjoy the games. Let the comics begin!

Gerry Giovinco


Stop the Presses: Part 4

Monday, April 9th, 2012

I recently acquired a DC Comics Production Handbook that was produced in 1989. It was quite clear from the contents that the industry then was clearly moving away from newsprint and focusing on the finer production qualities of better paper stock that we are now used to.  Some explanations in the handbook contradicted information that I posted in Stop the Presses Part 3 and, being that I am always happy to stand corrected, I am sharing these new insights.

As mentioned in Part 3, World Color Press’s Sparta plant played a dominant role in comic book production from the 1940’s to the 1990’s but, though I credited this to their use of the  web offset press, the DC Handbook claims that all the Sparta newsprint comics were printed on letterpress which used plastic coated plates to press ink onto the absorbent stock. The letterpresses at Sparta could print two 32-page comic books at a time and would produce up to 15,000 copies of each interior an hour.

By the late 1980’s, DC Comics, along with every other comic publisher at the time, were exploring other printers who were producing comics on better paper stock allowing for greater color capabilities. DC used the offset presses at Ronald’s Printing out of Canada.  The manual sites that Ronald’s M1000-B offset press could produce 60,000 16-page sections (signatures) an hour which according to my math is the same speed as the letterpress.  (1 32-page book = 2 16-page signatures X 2 books = 4 16 page signatures. 4 signatures times 15,000 = 60,000 signatures an hour. No?)

According to the manual color adjustments on the offset press had to be done while the press was running  and could waste as many as 10,000 copies before a proof was okayed. Sheet fed letterpresses stop while color adjustments are made and waste far less paper.

The 1989 manual also makes a startling claim that, with all factors involved, they could not make any money on a comic book selling less than 20,000 copies! There seems to be a lot of titles below this number on current sales charts, so either production costs have dropped or the higher prices of today’s comics can support this decline in figures. I’m sure it’s not because DC likes losing money.

The DC Comics Production Handbook went into a lot of other now obsolete but fondly remembered production techniques such as color separations, blue boards, coding for flat color, photostats and even pasting up word balloons. The Digital Age of art production has changed all of those things and the comics industry got its initial taste of that with First Comics‘ 1985 publication of the all digitally produced comic book SHATTER by Peter B. Gillis and Mike Saenz.

Nearly thirty years later coloring, lettering, and even artwork is being done digitally. This is true of printing as well. Though digital printing may not be the cheapest way to print it is giving many publishers an opportunity to be able to publish in very small print runs because of the lack of set up costs. Previously much of the initial cost in printing was tied up in the production costs of films and plates requiring minimum runs in the tens of thousands before a comic could recover those costs. Now it is possible to print just one copy of a comic book and, though the unit cost is much higher than a comic printed on an offset press, there is no need to have a warehouse of unsold comics to meet the limited demand of a niche product.

Print on Demand (POD) providers have created an opportunity for independent publishers to create beautiful editions of their publications in nearly every format imaginable. Creators and publishers just need to upload digitally formatted content to the POD providers site, usually at no cost, and order a printed proof that generally takes no more than two weeks to arrive. Once the proof is reviewed and and any changes made the books can be made available for sale or ordered in quantity for distribution.

David Anthony Kraft's COMICS INTERVIEW: The Complete Collection Volume 2

CO2 Comics has taken advantage of this POD production process and has been able to produce the beautiful 640-page David Anthony Kraft’s COMICS INTERVIEW the Complete Collection Volume One of this eleven volume project has already been made available and Volume Two is currently in production. Other new print projects will be announce very shortly so please stay tuned for the exciting news HOT OFF THE PRESS!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco

Stop the Presses: Part 2

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

At the turn of the second millennium it was Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press that was identified as having the greatest influence on humankind in the last thousand years. The printing press revolutionized the way information was disseminated and created a greater opportunity for education and the spread of social culture throughout the world. There surely would have been no comic books without the printing press and what a tragedy that would have been! We have to give credit to printers for their role and influence in the medium.

Though Richard F. Outcault’s Yellow Kid, heavily influenced by the use of colored inks in the printing process and published in 1895 is widely considered as the first comic strip because of its use of word balloons, it was a printer, Benjamin Franklin, who created and published in 1754 the first editorial cartoon in America, composed of an illustration of a snake with a severed head and the printed words “Join, or Die.”

Franklin who had been apprenticed as a printer to his older brother James left Boston and opened his own print shop in Philadelphia at the age of seventeen. Franklin often used his political cartoons in his publications  to advise readers about politics and the social unrest of the colonies that would lead to the American Revolution.

Like Franklin’s publications, early comics were printed on letterpresses where  engraved or photo-etched images and moveable type were covered with ink and pressed onto the surface of the paper which would then be folded,  trimmed and bound into a pamphlet. The size of the paper sheet dictated the final size of the original comic books which was about 7 1/4″ x 10 1/4.” The sheet of paper printed on both sides is considered a signature. Each signature has has eight pages on each side resulting in comic books  having page counts in increments of sixteen.

The early comics generally consisted of four signatures giving them a sixty-four page count plus an additional cover. Today’s comics usually have two signatures equalling thirty-two pages plus a cover. More recently, as discussed in  Stop The Presses Part 1 comics are using a self cover format meaning that the entire comic, including the cover, is generated by the two bound signatures.

Front and back of Signature #1

Joe Williams, co-creator  of CO2 Comics’ feature Monkey and Bird and all around great guy has a wonderful blog post showing how to set up the page layout for a print signature that is 12″ x 18.”  These dimensions are quite different than that of a traditional comic but it is a great illustration of how pagination works and clearly shows how the print size of the paper will dictate the size of the final comic.

Gerard Jones in his incredibly fascinating book, Men of Tomorrow, describes how Jewish immigrant printers played a specific role in the development of the comic book. He contends that these immigrants were dependent on having their own letterpresses so they could print with their distinctive Hebrew type faces. In a search for ways to keep their presses running, along with mob associations in this Depression /Prohibition Era, these printers relied on popular and inexpensive products like pulp magazines  and comic books that could be distributed along with  booze and other contraband to a large network of city news stands.

Jones tracks the corrupt exploits of  Harry Donenfeld and the evolution of his family run printing company through the $130 acquisition of Superman from two other young Jewish men, Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster. The ensuing unexpected and overwhelming success of comic books featuring The Man of Steel sealed the comic book’s place in history as an icon of popular culture and created an industry that no longer was dependent on mob money to support it.

Publishing comics became more glamorous than just printing them and soon the job of printing the comics was farmed out to larger printers who could handle the massive duty of printing millions of comic books each month and distributing them to a national audience.  Eventually only one printer would dominate the production of comic books for decades.

To be continued…

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco

How to Get Rich Making Comics

Monday, February 6th, 2012

First and foremost, if your reason for making comics is to get rich quick, get prepared for a big disappointment! Making comics is an art and, like most art forms, there is a long line of practitioners aspiring to emulate the success of a limited few. Those that have attained riches from making comics are a rare breed and thanks to unscrupulous publishing practices that have been the norm of the industry for decades many deserving comic artist have been deprived of fame and fortune.

I remember reading a list of the top ten grossing entertainers in the world sometime during the 1980’s. Two on the list were comic artists, PEANUTS creator Charles Schulz and GARLIELD creator, Jim Davis. They were right up there with entertainment titans, Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby! That was when I first realized the full fiscal potential of making comics. Schulz and Davis were both syndicated comic strip artists proving that there was commercial power to mixing words and pictures on the page.

This type of economic success was not available to comic book creators at the time for one key reason, Work for Hire. Most comic strip artists maintained ownership of their characters but in the comic book industry the publishers owned the characters and creators only received a page rate for their services with no ability to share in the success of the work through royalties.

This all began to change in the 80’s as the industry pushed for creator’s rights and independent publishers sprang up, willing to publish creator owned work. The newly devised Direct Market made it possible for these new publishers to explore the potential of sharing profits with creators. It also made it possible for creators to self publish their work.

1st five Comico Covers

Comico's 1st Color Books

This was our motivation when we created Comico. We knew that the best option for profiting from comics was to work for ourselves rather than be just another cog in the works of industry giants. As this same notion began to proliferate throughout the industry, comic artists did begin to realize the wealth that was possible. Two major examples of the earning potential of comics can be attributed TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and SPAWN creator Todd McFarlane who all made millions from their creations.

So, if you want to get rich making comics there are a few things to know.

Creating a successful comic or character is like winning the lottery. The odds are so great. It gets even more depressing when you see the long list of incredible talent that are the competition but no one can guess what will strike the nerve of the market. Like the lottery, you cannot win if you do not play, so jump in and create!

Do what you love and love what you do! Many will tell you this is the key to success. Bullshit!

But this will make the struggles a hell of a lot more bearable. Creating comics needs to be your passion. Make them because you want to and love doing it. Create characters that you know and love and need to share with the reader. Your ability to bring those characters to life is what will make them desirable to readers. Passion is infectious when it is executed with skill.

NEVER GIVE  UP THE RIGHTS TO YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY!!! Own your characters, never sell them unless the price is so unimaginably mind-boggling that you can’t say, ” no”. If you do sell your characters, don’t look back, it is time to reap what you have sown.

YOU WILL NEVER GET RICH JUST BY MAKING COMICS! This could change if the digital market takes off but there is just not a big enough comic reading market today to make you filthy, stinking rich. You may get pretty comfortable but not uber-loaded. Creators make the big bucks through licensing and merchandising. The comics are the launch pad for your property, where the character comes to life and proves it has legs but from there it is time to go to market and make movies, toys, pop tarts, you name it. That is where the money is.

What’s that? Your a comic artist not a salesperson? Then get a publisher that will do the work for you or get yourself an agent or a marketing agency. Go find Jerry Maguire and start yelling, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!” Video game developer, David Perry, does a great job explaining the need to merchandise here in one of his lectures.

It’s an awesome read and though it’s about licensing video games, you can easily see how it relates to comics because his point is that characters drive licensing and merchandising more than anything else.

Now you know that, yes, it is possible to get rich making comics but it requires a lot of love, a lot of work, a lot of luck and a lot of wheeling dealing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

See you at the bank!

Celebrating Thirty Years of Comics History!

Gerry Giovinco

The Art of Delivering Comics

Monday, December 5th, 2011

I have said many times that I do not regard a comic complete until it is in the hands of the reader. I say his because I believe that the presentation of the material is itself a critical element that impacts the readers appreciation of the work. Most of my career in comics has been on the side of producing the final package wether it be in print or digital format. Bill Cucinotta and I take as much pride here at CO2 Comics in packaging other creator’s comics for final presentation as we do writing and drawing our own material. This was also true when we were partners publishing comics under the Comico label back in the 1980’s.

Last week I wrote about accessibility, primarily focusing on characters remaining accessible to their audience after decades of continuity that might obscure their fundamental characteristics that make them unique and even iconic. To many, however the concept of accessibility as it relates to comics refers more to the availability of product or more precisely, the delivery of the product.

Ever since the rise of the Direct Market, beginning in the late 1970’s, it seems that  the accessibility of the comic book to the general public, or more accurately the casual comic book reader, has diminished with the relative extinction of traditional mass market outlets that drove the sales in the Golden and Silver Ages of comics.

Overlooked however is the fact that comics do exist outside of both of these markets and are thriving.  Comics may be more accessible to readers now than ever before. Comics are offered in such a tremendous array of packaging and subject matter that surely there is something for everybody and comics as a medium is poised to be recognized for its ability to have universal appeal.

I am going to attempt a breakdown of venues through which comics are currently being enjoyed. some are traditional formats others are new and still others are vehicles of marketing or use of comics as a form of communication. This includes strips, panels, short form and long form presentations. Please, if I miss any don’t hesitate to to send along your suggestions.

Newspapers – strips and panels – newstand distribution, subscription

Magazines –  strips and panels – newstand  and mass market distribution, subscription, internet sales

Comic Books – long format – Direct Market, Bookstores, subscription, internet sales

Graphic Novels – long format – Direct Market, Bookstores, internet sales

Small Press – Boutique format – Direct Market, internet sales, conventions

Web comics– Any format goes including infinite canvas – usually free on internet, some by subscription, some get collected into print packages.

Digital – comics collections on disc or via subscription on web sites.

Cell phone apps– comics downloaded to cell phone

e-reader apps – comics downloaded to e-readers like i-Pad, Kindle Fire, BN Nook

Print on Demand– Comics available as books printed to order from POD producers like LULU.

Zines – usually produced as fan publications, printed at home and mailed or distributed as PDFs via e-mail

Tracts – small religious pamphlets done as comics usually handed out freely by true believers.

Educational -comics used to illustrate a point, often seen in textbooks or educational magazines. The military uses comics to educate.

Institutional– I’ve seen comics used to describe museums and historic landmarks to name a few.

Premium –  This includes everything from free comics in Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum to comics in cereal boxes.

Instructional– Comics are used all the time to show instructions from everything to setting up a computer to flight safety on airplanes.

Promotional-comics used to advertise a product in ad form or catalogue form. I’ve seen promotional comics on comics on place mats in restaurants.

Journalistic– comics journalism has come a long way and can be found as panels or strips in newspapers to magazines and on the web.

I know that there is plenty more out there, I’d love to see samples of comics used in unusual formats, it always fascinates me so please share links or upload pictures to our facebook page.

Comics are everywhere. They are so ingrained in our culture that idioms like word balloons, panels, page layouts, effect splashes, production techniques and genre references are so common place they are easily taken for granted.

It is time for comic creators to lose the sensibility that they are purveyors of a fringe medium whose target audience is a focus group of geek culture and recognize that comics as a medium is one of power through its ability to communicate effectively to the masses in a simple, cost efficient manner. This cultural repositioning of the medium will be necessary for creators to establish their value to a market that will witness an ever increasing demand for this wonderfully versatile medium.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

Bang for the Buck

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Lately I’ve been sifting through the concept of the value of comics. What is a comic worth? What am I willing to pay to read a comic book, either in print or digitally and more importantly, what should I expect readers of comics that I publish to want to pay?

The question is a hotbed for discussion but for now I’m just going to float some thoughts.


The comics that originally hooked me on the medium I did not pay for. I read comics in the newspaper and though that paper which my parents bought was probably fifteen cents an issue back then, to me the comics were free. I read Peanuts comics that had been reprinted in pocket sized paperback books that were given to me by my uncle who got them second hand as returns, more free stuff. I read comic books as part of my experience going to the barber, sure someone coughed up the twelve cents that each comic cost somewhere along the line, but I read them for free then left them there for the next kid that would come in to get a buzz cut.

By the time I was actually carrying real change in my pocket, I already knew that I liked comics and when a quarter was burning a hole in my pocket It was a good bet that I would spend it on baseball cards, candy, or a comic book. All three items had a social value that could not be measured in terms of coinage. These were things that were shared with friends.

“You give me some Skittles and I’ll give you some Good & Plenty.”

“I’ll trade you my double of Mike Schmidt for your double of Johnny Bench.”

“You can read my copy of Captain America while I read your copy of Bat Man.”

While the candy was eaten, leaving little evidence other than tooth decay and an obesity epidemic, baseball cards and comic books had a way of accumulating and representing some type of feel-good value, either as fond memories of friendships or quiet escapes to fantastic worlds of celebrated heroes.

For some of us, the tattered piles of well read comics and hand flipped cards became collections and a desire to preserve the treasured artifacts generated something new – inflated value driven by speculation and scarcity.

Ironically, as the collector market grew, the cover prices rose and the traditional newsstand market shrunk into oblivion, alienating the casual reader that had long been the bread and butter of the comics industry.

Thirty-two page comics that were once a dime and offered, often, more than one complete story now sell for upwards to four bucks for a fraction of a story that will take a dozen issues to complete. Buying comic books is no longer a casual, impulsive, social practice. It is a commitment, a speculative purchase that requires the added investment of archival storage products such as mylar sleeves, acid free boards, long boxes and an accounting system. It takes a special person to be this motivated. Comic books are no longer for everyone.

Enter the graphic novel. Comics in a real book with a perfect bound cover that is card stock or even hard back! The complete run of a story arc fits between the covers that may contain a dozen issues or more of previously published material for a reasonable book price. A story that may have cost thirty-six to forty-eight dollars in pamphlet format can now be had for less than twenty bucks and looks fine on a bookshelf with no need to box or preserve in plastic. Better yet, I can find it in the library and read it for free. Boy, suddenly as a casual reader I’m reading comics again!

What’s that? Comics are all over the internet? For Free? Web comics…WOW!  More comics than I know what to do with featuring every type of genre imaginable. Some OK, some lousy, some great! I can build a library just by bookmarking the sites I like and return to my favorites every day, every week, once a month. Occasionally I’ll find a new gem and share the link with my friends on Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, you name it. “Hey I’m really digging that CO2 Comics!”

I can read comics on my phone? On a tablet? I need what? An App? Then I can download the comics I want for how much? $1.99?  $.99? Free?  OK, I’ll try a free one. That’s pretty cool let me share it with my friends. Hmmm. What kind of device do they use? Is this app compatible with their platform? I can’t share my download?

Wait a minute. I can read a lot of web comics on my phone and tablet and I can share from those devices. I’m cool. Web comics rule.

I know I’m getting a lot of comic creators steamed right now talking about all this free stuff but I’ve realized something. None of us pay for the comics we read. Nope. We pay for the distribution of the comic! We pay for how the art is put in front of our eyes. We pay for the books, the paper,the shipping,  the app provider, you name it. The retailer, the distributor, the publisher all get a cut. Yeah I know that the creator made some money off the comic but let’s be honest, they got paid as little as negotiably possible for the right to distribute the comic in a particular format, then the publisher gave them their art back. We don’t pay more for a comic because a better artist drew it.  We pay more for it because it is on better paper. If more books sell then the creator, if they get royalties, gets more money. The great creators may get paid more in advance because publishers know in advance that the book will reach more readers because that creator’s name is on the cover.

The value of the comic is determined by how many eyes look at it. Search the internet. The value of the content of any website is determined by how many people see it. That’s how television and radio work too. What do you think those Nielson Ratings are for?  So let’s be real. What would you look at first, something you had to pay for or something that was free? Be honest!

The goal of the comics industry should be to get comics in front of as many people as possible. The more people that read the product the more the value of the intellectual property increases. How? More circulation equals more advertising dollars, more merchandising, more licensing, more demand for more.

Marvel and DC accomplished this a long time ago. Their characters reached the tipping point decades ago when they became icons of our culture. Their comic books could disappear off the face of the Earth and people would still recognize their logos, know their mythology and by more stuff that relate to them because even without the comic books, the planet is plastered with film, television, and merchandise featuring the characters.

Disney understood this when they paid four billion dollars for Marvel. Disney is not in the business of publishing comics, they do not even publish their own iconic characters.  Disney is in the business of putting characters in front of as many eyes as possible and keeping them there. They have done this successfully since 1928 recreating value with each new generation by introducing them to the same product that their great grandparents enjoyed as children. Snow White, Cinderella, Bambi, Pinocchio, you name it. Disney took a concept, made it great, made it once, and built an empire.

Marvel and DC can sell their comics for four bucks, if they only reach thirty thousand readers, who cares? They’ve already won the war. The small publisher trying to compete with them cannot succeed at a comparable price point. Small publishers trying to keep their price “respectable,” with a few rare exceptions, will never reach the wider audience especially without the merchandising machine behind them and the big competition knows this. They also know that as creators and small businesses, we have to eat and busting our butts making comics for peanuts will not put food on our families tables. Bye-Bye small competition.

Call it an obsession, a passion, maybe even a disease but some of us just have an inexplicable need to make comics. It’s what we love. It’s how we express ourselves creatively. It would be great if we could all actually make money doing it. We at CO2 Comics have put our faith in the web comic format, for us it is the best and most cost effective way to reach our growing audience.  It is a slow arduous task, building an audience from scratch but it takes faith, perseverance and commitment. Most of the creators that feature work here on CO2 Comics support themselves by other means, you know, real jobs, including Bill and myself. We create time to make our comics available to our readers often sacrificing time with family or a good nights sleep.

Our comics are delivered to you free of charge. Enjoy them, share them and please come back and do it again. We will continue to provide great comics here and the larger our audience gets the greater the value will be of each comic on this site. Your patronage by simply reading and sharing will generate advertising revenue, spawn the development of printed product so you have the opportunity to adorn your book shelves with your favorite stories if you wish.  Your interest in characters found here will generate merchandise featuring them and promote interest in potential licensees. You, our readers, have the power to make this venture a success without spending a dime to read the comics published here.

This web comic business model is a simple yet dynamic one that has been around now for about a decade. CO2 Comics is just one of hundreds of sites that have already changed the face of comics forever. There is more diversity, more options, more creative opportunity to make comics than ever before. It is an exciting time to be a comic artist and a comic fan and who wouldn’t want to see it continue? As a reader this is your opportunity to make a difference in the success of the comics medium. Simply by sharing your favorite sites with friends you become a distributor of sorts, rewarded with a continued stream of amazing comic content.

So, if you want more BANG for the buck, now is your chance. Support the little guys that are braving the turbulent tides of technology to reinvent the comic market and support free content simply by reading and sharing what you enjoy. You have the power and you know what Stan says comes with that…

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

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