Posts Tagged ‘Creator’

Mini Comics to the Packaging Revolution

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Monkey & Bird…a Love Story by Joe Williams and Tina Garceau is AVAILABLE NOW!!!

The highlight of my week was receiving a copy of Joe Williams and Tina Garceau’s printed mini comic, Monkey and Bird, in the mail. Snail mail, that is.

Back in August we featured a couple of posts by Señor Williams that outlined his experience personally  making the mini comic. He peppered his posts with so many juicy details that almost anyone could go out and make one themselves.

I’ve known Joe and his lovely wife Tina for years, we go all the way back to our college days at PCA and I am well aware of both of their incredible attention to detail and quality not to mention their brilliance as designers yet I still did not expect to be so taken by what a gem their mini comic turned out to be.

Holding Monkey and Bird in my hand as a mini comic was a defining moment for me especially after having published it as a web comic here at CO2 Comics for the last two years. Maybe my reaction is a reflection of my long history of publishing on paper or just evidence of a generational  preference for things printed on paper, but I liked it. A lot!

The web affords us comic creators so many options to be able to present our labors of love to a potentially vast audience with minimal expenses compared to the printed product. Everything about making comics for the internet is so much more convenient and spontaneous that it has given us the opportunity as creators and readers to be able to witness the biggest creative explosion of the medium in its history. All those virtues, however, in my jaded eyes, do not supersede the experience of reading comics in print. I will always have a warm place in my heart for the tangible paper package.

mathmanauts

Mimeograph machine

It has always been clear to me that a comic is never complete until it is in front of an audience. The reader’s experience is a much a part of the final execution of the comic  as any step taken in the creative process along the way. Because I have always felt so strongly about this I began publishing my own comics almost as early as I began creating them. My first published comics were printed on a mimeograph machine. My audience had as much fun smelling them as they did reading them. I slowly graduated to photocopiers and small offset presses before finally dealing with  large, commercial, four-color presses to make Comico comics.

Comico Covers

As I sit here holding Joe and Tina’s  32 page (including covers),  full color, 4 x 5.5 inch, landscaped pamphlet that  is hand folded and saddle stitched with a good old-fashioned Swingline stapler I can’t imagine what my comic producing  experience would have been like if I would have had these production capabilities available to me back in the seventies. I would have traded tracing mimeo stencils and hand cranking purple inked copies for full-color pages spat out of an ink jet or laser printer in a heartbeat!

I did not have an opportunity to go to SPX this weekend but my fond memories of past shows include my amazement of the array of unique and creative packaging techniques that are always displayed. Monkey and Bird would have fit right in! Today’s community of independent comic artists and publishers take full advantage of the technology available to make comics that deliver an experience well beyond panel-to-panel sequential art.

Many people are pondering what is to become of the familiar pamphlet style comic that has been a fixture in the industry for over seventy years. Most believe that digital content will force it into extinction in the not too distant future, watching the sun set on a beloved package.

When I look at my little copy of Monkey and Bird, or think about what I witness at shows like SPXAPE, MOCCA, PACC and Stumptown, I see a different horizon, the shimmering rays of a new day cast by the lights of endless creative opportunity that will offer comics in print and digitally in infinite shapes and sizes. Each format, unique to its creator and not limited by the constraints of a few publishers or a single distributor.

I remember the first glimpse I ever had of this expanding possibility. In 1980 I was mesmerized by the first issue of Francoise Mouly and Art Spiegelman‘s anthology comic magazine RAW. The full color view out the window of a man committing suicide had been pasted on to the black and white cover of the tabloid sized periodical publication that featured an insane amount of groundbreaking comic art between its pages. The simple collage of the cover alone was enough to have numbed my creative mind for decades, especially in regards to packaging.

RAW

That, to me, was the beginning. Now, the art of making comics has firmly expanded from mastery of designing a page to the mastery of designing the whole package wether in print, on the web, or digitally for a specific device. The day where packaging that requires an entire production team is passing. The comic artist, if they choose, now has the ability to have complete control over the reading experience of the audience if they want it.

As a publisher, like CO2 Comics, today’s technology gives us the opportunity to open new doors of creative discussion with the artists that makes making comics more exciting than ever before. We plan to enjoy every minute of it!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


Lights Out!

Monday, August 29th, 2011

As I begin to write this week’s blog the East Coast is hunkering down in preparation for landfall of Hurricane Irene. Here in South Jersey all of the shore points have already been evacuated and Irene isn’t expected to hit for two more days! I live inland about forty minutes from the coast and I am getting nervous about the potential for the severe damage that can be caused by this historic storm. Today we received a rolling message from the electric company warning about the very real threat of drastic power outages and informing us that those outages could take days to correct.

Those of you that follow this blog know that Tuesday is the regular day for this to post and fortunately Bill Cucinotta will be finalizing the post from Philadelphia, which is also in the path of the storm but significantly inland. Thankfully the city is not nearly as susceptible to damage and outages caused by trees as we are buried here in the heavily wooded Pinelands, home of the fabled Jersey Devil.

I hope against odds that come Tuesday I will be able to enjoy reading this post and be able to visit all of my favorite places on the internet. More importantly I hope that everyone in the path of this storm fairs well and comes through this ordeal safely.

All of this talk about the lights going out is making me think about how dependant we have all become on our computers and other electronic conveniences for our information and amusement. I’ve started reminiscing about those simpler times when I looked forward to reading a stack of pulpy comics on a rainy day. I have to wonder how kids today will get by without power to supply their iPods, iPads, gameboys, cell phones, laptops and televisions.

Even the creative process grinds to a halt when the lights go out. More and more writers and artists are dependant on their computers as their primary tool with which to create. I know I’d much rather peck away on the keyboard, making corrections instantly as I clack along. The option of writing this blog with pen and paper is now just about as obsolete as writing it in hieroglyphics.

Regularly, I review old-school comic creating techniques, most recently looking at the basics of just drawing a line without the use of a computer program. Sure, artists are always dependant on tools to execute their ideas but in the past primary tools were simple and more dependant on the skillful hand of the creator than a complex program brought to life by the power grid.

Have we become so dependant on creating digitally that we are in danger of losing the freedom of our voice as creators when the lights go out? I think that Irene may teach us a brief yet tough lesson, especially if some of us are without power for several days. Besides the fact that milk will go bad in a warm fridge, some of us are about to find out that we need to maintain our ability to create with analog tools like paper, pencils, inkruling pens, brushes, nibs, and rulers.

The ability to create with our hands not cuffed by a computer will give us the opportunity for greater spontaneity, greater freedom and greater control of our own creative destiny. I am not insinuating that we should abandon the use of the computer for creating. Absolutely not! In many ways digital art has opened up an infinite number of doors for creative opportunity. I am suggesting that just as a little league ball player has the fundamentals pounded into his skill set to make him a better player, young artists should master the use of the rudimentary yet traditional tools of the medium to assist in making them better comics artists.

Someday, when and if the lights do go out, It will be the comics artist that has mastered the basic skills that have been used for decades that
will have the advantage and be able to create without the use of a power cord.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco


CREATIONISM

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Recent Champions of Creationism: Millar, Haspiel, Casey & Ellis

Hallelujah!

What a wonderful time to be a comics creator!

More options exist than ever before to create original works, have them published in multiple formats, reach a worldwide audience, retain ownership and have a sense of control over what happens with our intellectual properties.

All we have to do is figure out how to make some money while we’re at it!

It is this sense of monetary entitlement that seems to be frustrating creators the most and it is justifiable, especially in this awful economy. We all want to be paid for our hard work.

How do we define our value? What is appropriate compensation for what we do as comic creators? When do we realize we are being screwed and by who?

This isn’t an issue unique to comic creators. Ever apply for a job? Any job? The trickiest blank to fill on the application is “desired salary.” With few exceptions, the more labor intensive the job is, the less we can expect to be paid.

The arts, regardless of the discipline, always seem to leave a trail of under appreciated and undervalued yet talented creative types groveling in the wake of employers who have benefited immensely from the revenues generated by the exploitation of the works created by the artists that they have dealt with.

We all know the exceptions. The stars in the arts and entertainment world shine bright and are showered with wealth, adding to the frustration of those that toil diligently at their craft for limited compensation. These are the artists that either know how to manage and promote themselves or are able to surround themselves with people they trust to handle these duties.

I have always believed that if you want to earn what you feel you deserve as a creator, you should work for yourself. Why make someone else rich at the expense of your talent? This, of course takes time, requires investment, commitment and risk, most of the elements that the publisher assumes when publishing a work and why they expect to retain so much of the revenue generated by sales.

If there was ever a time to take on those daunting responsibilities, NOW is the time to take charge of your talents as comic creators. There is no need to sell out your skills or your creative ideas to publishers who are unwilling to value your work respectfully.

The internet provides so many opportunities for creators that did not exist just ten years ago. Comic creators now have tremendous resources available for everything from learning the techniques of the medium to the publication, marketing and distribution of the final work. All of these assets are available for free or at minimal cost compared to anything that was ever available before.

As a community of comic creators, we need to come together and champion each other. Now is the time to redefine the market, recondition the consumers, and reinvent the product. Now is the time to take control of our creations and be the beneficiaries of our own talent.

Will 2011 will be the year that comic creators finally recognize the significance of their independence? We are off to a good start. In the first few weeks of the new year discussion on this topic has already stirred the pot. Mark Millar, Dean Haspiel, Joe Casey, Warren Ellis and myself have all made a point to instill this dynamic into the mindset of comic creators, many of which are diving into the digital distribution arena possibly a bit to hastily with a Gold Rush mentality.

It is time that we all become as creative and aggressive marketing our comics as we are when creating them. We can charge in alone or we can rally together by supporting and sharing each other’s endeavors and ideas, encouraging an evolution that will redefine the course of comics as an industry and a medium.

Evolution at the hands of the creator…what a novel concept. Maybe we can make a Big Bang in how comics are perceived by the masses or maybe we can at least put the Pop back in our favorite Pop Art by insuring that comics are the popular reading material of the widest audience possible.

Bill Cucinotta and I are committed to exploring the possibilities that are available to the comic creators that are part of our cooperative community here at CO2 Comics. We also recognize that we are part of the greater community of comics professionals. We intend to be part of the dialog that empowers this new trend of Creationism.

Our think tank is more than a canister of of carbon dioxide.

We have been challenging the boundaries of convention in the comics field since the early eighties with Comico, our former creator owned publishing house that found ways to publish other creators while paying highly competitive page rates and a generous royalty on sales. From modest beginnings we found creative ways to compete directly with Marvel and DC in the fledgeling Direct Market. We made inroads in licensing and merchandising that opened the doors for others. We set standards for production and quality with innovation and hard work. We made mistakes and we learned from them.

We proved that it is possible to build a dream with perseverance, enthusiasm and creativity. CO2 Comics is our opportunity to do that again in this new digital era. As always our focus is on the success of the creators. We know that the success of the creators that we have relationships with translates into success for us. It is a simple formula and it works.

Creationism can be the new evolution of comics if you let it.

Our message to all creators: “This is your time. This is your opportunity. Take advantage of it. We plan to!

Hallelujah!

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco


Appless Comics

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Apps, apps, apps! That is all we hear about anymore, especially when the discussion is about digital comics. Maybe I’m dense, too old fashioned or just plain stupid but I have to admit that I just don’t get it.

I know that there are apps for just about everything. Apple boasts over 300,000 apps available just for the iPhone. There are thousands of apps for Droids, Smartphones and Blackberries too but, face it, apps are a brilliant marketing tool for “App”le more than anyone..

Now that the iPad is on the scene everyone and their sister can see the potential of comics flourishing on that brilliant 9.7 inch screen and of course the imitators are already popping out everywhere.

In the midst of all this commotion we have all been sold the idea that an app is needed to be able to read comics on these portable devices. An app! Quick run out and get one so you can read comics! Hurry, hurry, hurry!

If you are a creator or a publisher you especially better get a jump on it before you are left in the dust. Times-a-wasting! Lock into a deal, NOW! Tie up your rights and spread that wealth with Apple, the app developer, and the publisher leaving little for the creator before it’s too late!
Hurry, hurry, hurry!

What a bunch of sheep we are. Happy to be herded to a promised land by the carrot of new source of possible revenue.

WAKE UP!!

SMELL THE COFFEE!!

STOP BEING A PANSIE!!

Let me bring you back to Earth with a simple truth. You do not need an app to read tons of great digital comics on a computer, a net book, an e-reader or a cell phone.

You don’t need an app!

All you need is a browser.

If your device can read Flash files your options are even greater.

New devices are coming soon from Samsung and Blackberry that read Flash. Soon Apple will have to include it as well. Even if they don’t Flash created with HTML 5 is readable so eventually all web comics will be an easy read on any tablet or phone, app-free!

If you are a creator or a publisher, post your comics on the web, market a PDF download, or make your own app if you feel that you really have to and guess what?

You are in command!

You have control over your content, no censorship, no digital rights management that ties up your property indefinitely and, if you wish to sell your works, get paid directly from your readers without sharing any of the profits except your PayPal fees.

I know this all sounds like blasphemy!

The digital comic download is supposed to be the savior of comics and finally provide a source of revenue to creators while opening up the huge untapped market of the masses.

The magic bullet!

But it is not.

If we allow ourselves to be led down the narrow road of the app it is business as usual. In the comics industry we know who wins. Everyone else loses. Even the readers.

Look, as a publisher, I have gone toe-to-toe with Marvel and DC in the Direct market. I’ve waded into the dark and murky waters of the mass market. I was there championing the rise of creators’ rights and the proliferation of independent publishers from the beginning. I know what I’m talking about.

As a comic creator and publisher I sought the Holy Grail and it wasn’t profit. I’d be lying if I told you money wasn’t part of the motivation but the real prize was freedom.

CREATIVE FREEDOM!

The internet gives comic creators the opportunity to enjoy creative freedom like never before. Creators can reach a global audience with little expense and retain complete ownership of their works.

Creators don’t need to be confined to an app. They need to be creative and they need to discover creative ways to generate revenue.

When Bill Cucinotta and I conceived of CO2 Comics this was and continues to be our mission, to create a cooperative community of comic creators that support each other to reach a wider audience with diverse material and to maximize the profitability of our individual intellectual property by exploring product options of digital, print, merchandise, other media and licensing.

In a year and a half we have amassed nearly a thousand pages of comics from over twenty distinguished creators that attract about ten thousand hits a day. We have published a 680 page book that is the greatest collection of comic interviews in the history of comic books. Most importantly we have created a venue that supports the creators that share in our mission by helping them sell their print products, services and merchandise while maintaining complete ownership of their creations.

We are just getting started.

I know that I am coming down pretty hard on apps, but I am just trying to make an important point that I believe has to be made.

Apps can be part of a successful comic marketing strategy but I don’t think that they can be viewed as a panacea for the entire industry or surely the little guy will get crushed, unnoticed in the shadow of the usual giants and trampled by the rush of new readers herded by powerful marketing machines toward product they are already familiar with.

Comic creators need to take advantage of the internet while it is still inexpensively accessible. Maximize it as a resource while you still have a chance. Don’t be distracted by the temptations of a huge corporation whose sole motivation is profiting from the work of every creator possible.

That “app”le looked good to Eve, too and look where it got her.

Making comics because I want to.

Gerry Giovinco



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