Left to our own devices: Limited distribution

Over the weekend, Amazon.com removed the sales rankings from books it deemed “adult,” apparently to protect unsuspecting readers from being exposed to such literature. Because this was done via some sort of algorithm, rather than by a human, a whole slew of books with gay and lesbian themes, many of which had no sexual content at all, were deranked, while such wholesome fare as a book of Playboy centerfolds and the notoriously erotic graphic novel Lost Girls remained in full view, as it were. Amazon claims it was just a “glitch” and has begun restoring the ranking info, but ero-manga publisher Simon Jones points out that this demonstrates the risks inherent in using a closed distribution platform, whether it’s Amazon or iTunes.

A company called Plastic Logic is out to exploit the limitatins of the Kindle with its “Kindle killer” device, an e-reader designed specifically for newspapers and magazines, with a larger display, flexible screen, and—this is key—color! This article in the New York Observer starts out with an interview with the designers but then goes on to the rumor that Apple is working on a Kindle killer of its own, basically a bigger version of the iPod Touch. (Via Journalista.)

Newsarama asked its readers what they would pay for downloadable comics, and less than 50% expected to get their downloads for free. On the other hand, a surprising number of the people who bothered to respond felt that comics belong on paper, not screens, so it’s probably not a terribly representative sample. (Via Down the Tubes.)

Weekly Tezuka Osamu Magazine is a new iPhone/iPod Touch app that is just what the name says: about 100 pages of Osamu Tezuka manga downloaded directly to your device. The good news: It’s all free. The bad news: It’s all in Japanese.

John Jakala points out that one possible feature of manga e-books would be the ability to toggle between English and Japanese sound effects.


Webcomic All-Stars Spotlight ~ON~ Joe Dunn of Joe Loves Crappy Movies, Another Videogame Webcomic

If there’s one thing that webizens love to talk about, it’s video games. If there’s one more thing after gaming, it’s movies. Luckily, Joe Dunn has both genres covered, and in top form no less.

Dunn is the creator behind Joe Loves Crappy Movies, a somewhat autobiographical strip about reviewing movies and sometimes acting out those which are either too great to pass up or too horrible to forget. With this strip, Dunn has taken the age-old pastime of reviewing and critiquing movies and made it infinitely more intriguing by making it a visual activity as well as a cerebral one. Along this same line, the strip is featured above the review of each movie, making the comic the star of the feature and the review a simple supporting actor.


Joe loves lots of other things, too (Drawing Copyright 2009 Jason Sigler)

Continue reading


Left to our own devices: Rage against the machine

There’s a quiet uprising going on at Amazon, where Kindle users have started a boycott of books that cost more than $9.99. Galley Cat has the exective summary, and Andrew Savikas has more at O’Reilly TOC, but what’s really interesting is to go to Amazon itself and see how the online retailer’s own tools have been turned against it: Irate readers simply created a 9 99boycott tag and are busily applying it to books they think are overpriced. There’s an active discussion as well, and a tag cloud with related tags such as “drm infected” and “overpriced.”

ICv2 discusses rumors of two e-book readers that are on their way to the American market: A possible competitor for the Kindle from Barnes & Noble (here’s more) and Fujitsu’s FLEPia, which launches this month in Japan at a retail price of $1,000. The big deal about the FLEPia is that it has color, and it also has some standard computer functions, extending its usefulness.

Keenspot is looking for comics to put on the iPhone, and they expect to expand to other platforms, including Blackberry, Android, Palm, and Nokia, in the near future. Don’t make comics? They are also looking for freelancers to do the conversions. Even if you’re not interested in a gig, it’s worth clicking over to see the screenshot of their comic in the top 20 iPhone apps, following Classics: As Seen on TV!, the bible, several volumes of Twilight, and iPhone: The Missing Manual. Sort of tells you where our priorities lie, doesn’t it?

Good news for manga fans with Android mobile phones: The Android comics viewer can now handle manga that reads right to left.


Ryan “Mr. Internet Comic” Estrada ~FEATURED~ This In This Month’s Zuda Contest

You read that correctly. Ryan Estrada, the one and only king of quantity in webcomics, has an entry in this month’s Zuda Comics competition.

While I have already read his entry, titled, “The Kind You Don’t Bring Home To Mother”, I haven’t perused the other entrants yet so I can’t say whether or not to throw my vote behind Estrada. I can, however, say that, based on his previous works, a Favorite (one of the many metrics that Zuda employs in deciding who wins) would not be out of the question.

We wish good luck to Estrada and all the others in the Zuda contest this month. Looks like it’s shaping up to be another great race in April so check back soon for ZudaWatch 0409!


Julia has a secret! Click the image and read on for more


Links: Eisners and dollars

The Eisner Award committee released this year’s nominations today, and here are the webcomics finalists:

Bodyworld, by Dash Shaw
Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil
The Lady’s Murder, by Eliza Frye
Speak No Evil, by Elan Trinidad
Vs. by Alexis Sottile & Joe Infurnari

I am confident that this will provide fodder for many fruitful and interesting discussions in the weeks to come.

At Indignant Online, Todd Allen takes a look at the various models for making money off webcomics. To put this in context, it follows a post about the possible demise of print comics. (First link via Journalista.) Tom Spurgeon, however, doesn’t think much of Todd’s article and would like to see more hard numbers.

Sean Kleefeld has a nice post about social marketing of comics, which will be especially significant for webcomics creators.

At Sequential Tart, Rebecca Buchanan interviews Lora Innes, creator of The Dreamer, which IDW is about to bring to print.

Here’s a reason to hang on to that old URL: cat garza let Whimville go a few years ago and now it has been resurrected by a chiropractor, apparently to boost his SEO rating. But it still has some of cat’s comics on it. (Via ComixTalk.) UPDATE: Gary Tyrrell sends them a polite letter.

Also at ComixTalk, Xaviar Xerxes recommends we take a look at a new webcomic, Urf, and from the few panels I read, it looks like his hype is justified this time.

Marc Alan Fishman recommends Kawaii Not at ComicMix.

Delos reviews Bear Nuts at ComixTalk.


Left to our own devices: Star Trek and other updates

At Blog@Newsarama, Kyle Latino interviews Michael Murphey, of iVerse Media, about their Star Trek: Countdown comic for the iPhone. Latino himself usually doesn’t by Star Trek comics, but he was impressed by the way this one was adapted to the new medium:

What really blew me away was how sucked in I was to the comic itself. There were clearly many choice that were made in the adaptation of this comic to touch phones that took advantage of the devices: segmenting longer panels into multi-screen panels, cropping panels and letting the wordballoons outside the gutter allowing the art to breath, slight zoom in repeated panels to display all the captions from wordier panels. There was never a sense of claustrophobia with caption and balloons crushing the storytelling.

That’s hard to accomplish on a handheld. Also, it was cheap!

This is a bit old, but it’s interesting: Gearlog test-drives comics on the Kindle.

Over in Japan, an older manga, Boys Be…, is getting a new lease on life via cell phone. The new series, Boys Be 2009 1, updates the original storylines of the 1991 manga.

On the French side, PC World has an article about adapting BDs to mobile-phone formats.

And here’s a solution for those who can’t afford an iPod to read their free comics apps on: Make your own!


Links: Shuster award noms and more!

Here’s a good laugh to end the week: C.B. Cebulski puts his comic S.A.S.E., about the grueling job of submissions editor, online for all to read for free.

At Blog@Newsarama, Henry Chamberlain interviews Box Brown, creator of the webcomic Bellen! and a Xeric award winner; this article was the first time I had seen the news that Bellen! is going to be part of comics.com, which is owned by United Features Syndicate.

The list of finalists for the Joe Shuster Awards, which honor the best Canadian comics creators, is up, and the list of webcomics/bandes dessiness web is impressive:

Kate Beaton for Hark! A Vagrant
Michael Cho for Papercut
Lar De Souza and Ryan Sohmer for Least I Could Do and Looking for Group
Kathryn and Stuart Immonen for Moving Pictures
Karl Kerschl for The Abominable Charles Christopher
Gisele Lagace for Menage A 3
Ramón K. Pérez for Kukuburi and Butternut Squash (with Robert Coughler)
Cameron Stewart for Sin Titulo

There’s plenty of good reading in there.

Congratulations to Jon Adams, who has managed to keep Truth Serum going for an entire year! He is celebrating by bringing in some guest artists to contribute to this week’s strips. (Via Robot6)

Here’s a timely review of a topical comic: Sarah Boslaugh reviews Economic Meltdown Funnies, which explains the current economic crisis and, from the looks of it, gets a few yuks in as well.


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ Chris Hallbeck of The Book of Biff


Chris Hallbeck represents two things: 1) the end of our NEWW interviews and 2) a creator I was hoping to get to know better of the course of the weekend.

I first came about The Book of Biff during last year’s Webcomic Idol competition, where he was in very good company with some truly outstanding strips. To stand out from that crowd, you had to be a quality comic from the word go and Biff was certainly that, with one panel gag-a-days that offer slightly askew bits of advice via the series protagonist (and only feature star), Biff.

Hallbeck’s was yet another face who I had no previous knowledge of going into NEWW, but his loving wife, Amanda, provided a simple portal to getting to know him. During the aforementioned Friday house party, I sat with Amanda and chatted about life in general while Chris wandered about, schmoozing the best and brightest that webcomics has to offer. Sure, she doesn’t work on the strip DIRECTLY, but it’s always fascinating for me to see the people behind the creators, to see what their perspective is on the whole process. Sadly, I didn’t think to create the Webcomics Wives Club series of interviews until I was well on my way home, but that’s what next year is for, right?

But I did manage, through Amanda, to grab a quick word or two with Chris before the show closed on Sunday. So check in to find out what’s up with those crazy eyebrows of Biff’s and stay tuned for the best well-rounded webcomics coverage out there!


Links: News from all over

Indigo Kelleigh starts the relaunch of Ellie Connolly, a webcomic that I enjoyed very much in its previous incarnation, despite its brevity (and Bengo, I don’t mind her nose—she’s supposed to be funny and adventuresome, not sexy).

Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon announced yesterday that they are bringing back Casanova as a free, online comic, in color. Judging from bloggers’ reactions, this had better not be an April Fool’s joke. UPDATE: Pwned!

David Goodman has some advice on calculating how big a buffer a webcomics creator should have, and commenters chime in with their own experiences as well, at webcomics.com.

And over at the forum Panel and Pixel, webcomics creators discuss how often they update, how many pages they post at a time, and how they get the word out. (Via ComixTalk.)

The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna talks to Scott Kurtz about his use of Twitter and other social networking methods to build an audience.

Marc Alan Fishman explains why you should be reading Garfield Minus Garfield at ComicMix.

You know, a lot of iPhone apps sound kinda dumb, but I like this one: RingTales has an app that allows you to look at New Yorker cartoons on your iPhone. Since they are single-panel cartoons, I would imagine the format would work a bit better than chopped-up comic books, and the fun part is that you can shake the phone to get a new, randomly chosen set of thumbnails.

At the Gillian’s Heart blog, Dave Baxter touts the newest comic for the Google Android platform, Endless Buenos Aires #1.


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ David McGuire of Gastrophobia


There were many people at NEWW who were more than willing to talk about their work and ready and able to do so for minutes, nay HOURS at a time. From what I observed, however, David McGuire is not that sort of creator. But if you know anything about indie comics, be they on the web or offline, then you know McGuire’s name. It is simply a body of work that speaks for itself.

You may also know his current strip, Gastrophobia, about, and I’m quoting McGuire from our interview, “a barbarian single mom in Ancient Greece.” If that doesn’t scream webcomics, I don’t know what does.

So with a working knowledge of the man’s name and his contributions to the art form over the last few years, I plopped down beside McGuire to excise from him some details about Gastrophobia and his webcomics career in general. I knew the questions wouldn’t be the greatest (before turning on the recorder, McGuire simply said, “I’m sorry” to preface what he assumed would be a bad interview) but having now seen a larger smattering of his work, I’m certainly glad I seized the opportunity.

And yes, I did say Webcomics Weekly in the intro. And no, this is not that show. And yes, I will cease and desist with doing so again.