Links: Heavy meta

Hearty congratulations to Phil and Kaija Foglio, who won a Hugo Award for best graphic story for vol. 8 of their Girl Genius series. Howard Tayler’s Schlock Mercenary was also nominated.

There’s a lot of good conversation about webcomics in the general case going on right now. Larry Cruz takes a look at Scott McCloud’s ten rules for webcomics, first laid down in 2000, to see how they have survived the test of time and technology. Olaf Solstrand has some tips for welcoming new readers who may join your story in the middle of the action. And Scott Kurtz ponders the question of whether artists should try to be businesspeople as well; be sure to read the lengthy comments thread on this one.

ACT-I-VATE moves to print with The ACT-I-VATE Primer.

Kelly Melcher interviews Danielle Corsetto, creator of Girls with Slingshots, at Fandomania.

Tom Gastall covers the Marvel Digital Comics & Beyond panel at San Diego for Comic Book Resources.

Laurel Maury looks at Tim Hamilton’s webcomic adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 for NPR.

Over at Robot 6, my contribution to our weekly What Are You Reading? column was all webcomics last week, with quick takes on Punch an’ Pie and the iPhone comic The Eternal City.

Recent reviews:

Tom Flinn on A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge (ICv2)
J. Caleb Mozzocco on Bayou (Every Day Is Like Wednesday)
asamisgirl on Goodbye Chains (The Yaoi Review)
Lukatraon on Gunnerkrigg Court (Big Shiny Robot)
Larry Cruz on Head Trip (The Webcomic Overlook)
Bart Croonenborghs on Menage a 3 (print edition) (Broken Frontier)


Left to Our Own Devices: ComiXology and more

Comics by comiXology is the number one app in the iTunes store right now, and I spoke to comiXology CEO David Steinberger about what sets this one off from the others. I believe it’s the first to take advantage of in-app buying (so you buy all your comics from within the app, rather than having each one be a separate app), but beyond that, it allows you to locate the print edition in a nearby bricks-and-mortar store. The partnership with retailers is a new twist, and I’m interested to see how it will play out.

Kevin Hodgson test-drives the comiXology app at The Graphic Classroom, and Charlie Sorrel of Wired’s Gadget Lab kicks the tires as well.

The New York Times covers the boom in cell-phone manga in Japan. It’s still well under 10% of the manga market, according to the numbers cited in the article, but the growth rate is steep.

Owly is now available on the Kindle!

The Yaoi Review checks out some yaoi manga on the Kindle and finds the fonts are too small to be readable. This looks like a first-genration Kindle, though, so a later one might work better. TYR also presents a handy downloadable list of yaoi manga and novels available on the Kindle.


Links: SDCC wrapup, interviews, and juice!

Interview-a-rama: I talk to Diana McQueen about the relaunch of Girlamatic at Robot 6, and Christoher Irving interviews Josh Neufeld, creator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, at the NYC Graphic Novelists blog.

Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly rounded up the digital comics news from San Diego Comic-Con, and Ellie Connelly creator Indigo Kelleigh muses on lessons learned at SDCC. It’s an entertaining post with solid advice for creators who are new to the con scene.

CBR has coverage of the Digital Comics: The Future Is Now panel, which was mainly a discussion of the different platforms, including a couple of newly announced ones, Longbox and comiXology’s iPhone app.

The Archie Digital Comics Store is up and running. Like the Marvel Digital Comics Universe, it offers a good chunk of the archives for unlimited reading; passes are $9.95 for a month or $49.95 per year. There are more details at the Archie blog.

One of the stories that has been bubbling around the internets over the past week is that of David Rees (creator of Get Your War On) vs. Jamba Juice (creator of smoothies). Some PR firm hired by Jamba Juice decided they would hop on the cool bandwagon by making some clip-art comics about guys sitting in an office discussing pointless topics and shilling for Jamba Juice. The PR guys may have thought they were on safe ground because Rees used copyright-free clip art to create his comic in the first place, but he obviously created something with a unique look and feel, which they blatantly copied. If you’re new to the party, here’s a good interview that sums up what happened and Rees’s reaction, but you really should go read his blog, starting here, because his reaction to the whole thing is an entertaining piece of blog theater in and of itself.


Left to our own devices: iPad coming soon?

We have been hearing rumors for a while that Apple is working on a larger version of the iPod touch, something in the 6×9″ range that would be ideal for, among other things, reading comics. Well, the latest inside story rumor is that Apple is going all out to launch the item in September 2009, months ahead of the earlier schedule. They seem to be thinking more in terms of music and movies than books, but obviously this would be a good format for comics as well.

Meanwhile, the content for the regular iPhone/iPod Touch continues to roll in. Two very different but very major creators announced direct-to-iPhone releases at San Diego Comic-Con last week: Stan Lee will bring his Stripperella to the small screen, and Lewis Trondheim will be putting an original comic on the iPhone as well. (Via Robot 6.) In addition, Markosia Comics announced a four-issue “cyberpunk-styled” series, The Dark.

Speaking of Stan Lee he is teaming up with Disney to create Time Jumper, an original digital motion comic that will be available from iTunes starting later this week. The website is already live and features a video of Stan Lee himself along with some spoofs of headhunter ads. Lee will voice one of the characters, Lee Excelsior. The app went up on iTunes today and at $7.99 for a season pass, it’s one of their pricier apps.

Robot Comics has launched a line of comics for the Kindle, starting with Desert Peach, by Donna Barr.

Johanna Draper Carlson discusses some of the disadvantages of digital media at Comics Worth Reading.


Left to our own devices: Cheaper Kindle and manga-mania

Amazon has dropped the price of the basic 6″ Kindle to $299. I’m not sure if this is genius or desperation, but it’s still a lot of money. (Memo to Amazon: All the cool kids are using these “links” now that aren’t 140 characters long. You might try it sometime.)

Andrews McMeel has combined Universal Features Syndicate with its Uclick division, which develops and markets comics for mobile phones to form a new company, Universal Uclick. The move will eliminate overlap between the two companies and allow them to market comics more efficiently through a variety of channels.

And all the rest of our news is about manga, which seems to be heading toward handhelds in a big way—which is not surprising, given the popularity of cell phone manga in Japan.

At Anime Expo, eigoManga publisher Austin Osueke pointed to webcomics as the possible solution for the slump in manga sales and revealed that his company is working on an iPhone app that will allow the user to read a sample comic and then buy it on their phone.

Lori Henderson looks over small-screen manga readers at Manga Xanadu.

Go! Comi has released Japan Ai: A Tall Girl’s Adventures in Japan for the iPhone. At 99 cents for the entire book, this a real bargain, and it’s a book that many non-manga fans will enjoy as well. Deb Aoki reviews the digital version at

Digital Manga will be publishing Yellow 2, the sequel to the popular yaoi manga Yellow; what makes this webcomics news is the fact that Yellow 2 was published only on cell phones in Japan, so the U.S. edition will be the first print edition.

Digital also put out a press release this week about a slew of manga they are putting on the Kindle store. This is a bit cheaper than print versions, but as I pointed out at MangaBlog, Vampire Hunter D fans would do better getting their fix directly from iTunes.


Links: Opportunities for creators and readers alike!

The Cartoon Art Museum is planning a show called Monsters of Webcomics, which they describe as “a showcase of cutting-edge webcomics work.” They have already selected the ten headliners, but other creators are invited to submit their work for inclusion as well.

And here’s a call from an artist who wants to turn your dreams into webcomics.

David Pepose of Blog@Newsarama interviews Sin Titulo creator Cameron Stewart, and Sean Kleefeld discovers that the comic is coherent when you read it backward as well as forward (and he has an interesting discussion of why that is).

I’m hearing great things about the print version of Bayou. Here’s a Jonathan Kuelein’s review from the Toronto Star.

Speaking of Zuda, Johanna Draper Carlson is not too impressed with what she sees—a lot of the same type of comic, not enough exposition, and a reader that loads slower than molasses in January. David Gallaher pops in in comments with a helpful fix for that last problem.

The Girls Entertainment Network is reviewing the Eisner nominees in various categories; here’s their look at the contenders for Best Digital Comic. (Via Robot 6.)

Tyler Chin-Tanner has some thoughts on Longbox, which supposedly is going to be the iTunes for comics at Broken Frontier. (Discussion question: Isn’t iTunes the iTunes for comics?) (Via The Beat.)

The latest Webcomic Beacon podcast is all about the benefits of going multilingual.

Some new things to try: Scott McCloud describes Neo Mento as “sharp stuff in a readable, innovative format” on his blog. Scott notes a couple of photo comics as well. And check out R&R Comics, a new anthology site that is just getting off the ground, if you want to start reading your comics from the beginning.


Links: Free advice, speculation, and some nice reviews

We have mocked Dark Horse in the past for putting their webcomics up on MySpace, but there’s no denying that MySpace Dark Horse Presents has been a success, with thousands of readers and two volumes in print. There’s a glitch, though: MySpace laid off 400 people last June, and the folks who worked on the Dark Horse site were among them, so that page has not updated since June 3. ICv2 talks to MSDHP editor Sierra Hahn about the current status of the page and Dark Horse’s decision to host this month’s update on their own site.

Josh Neufeld posts some video of his presentation on How to be an Obscure Alternative Cartoonist Specializing in Real-Life Topics, which I’m sure is of interest to many of us.

Joey Manley continues to document his experiment in return on investment for various ad schemes.

At Newsarama, Chris Arrant talks to Andy Belanger about his new Zuda comic, Bottle of Awesome.

John Hogan talks to Jeremy Love, creator of Bayou, at Graphic Novel Reporter.

Sean Kleefeld follows a Tweet to the supposedly awesome new Wowio 3.0 and is puzzled but not impressed. A comment from a disgruntled unpaid artist suggests that things haven’t changed much.

Art Patient has a big ol’ link post up with lots of reviews and news, and I suggest you check it out. Here are a couple of reviews that I particularly enjoyed:

John Hogan on the print edition of Bayou (Graphic Novel Reporter)
Larry Cruz on Boss Noodle, by Chugworth Academy creator Dave Cheung (The Webcomic Overlook)
Elle Dee on Gisele Lagace’s new webcomic, Eerie Cuties (Storming the Tower)
Larry Cruz on Loyalty & Liberty, a graphic novel of the American Revolution as enacted by cats! Terrifying cats! (The Webcomic Overlook)
RKB on Sin Titulo, a rare critical review of this series (with some good points) (Pigs of the Industry)


Webcomics rock the Harvey awards

The Harvey Awards nominations are up, and as Xaviar Xerxes notes, webcomics did pretty well; if you include webcomics that have migrated to print, the list looks even better:

The Black Cherry Bombshells (Best On-Line Comics Work)
Buzzboy: Sidekicks Rule (multiple nominations)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (multiple nominations)
High Moon (Best New Series, Best On-Line Comics Work)
Least I Could Do (Best Cartoonist, Best On-Line Comics Work, Special Award for Humor in Comics)
Love and Capes (Best Cartoonist)
The Night Owls (Best New Series, Best On-Line Comics Work, Best New Talent (Bobby Timony))
PvP (Best On-Line Comics Work)
SuperTron (Best New Series)
Wondermark (Special Award for Humor in Comics, Special Award for Excellence in Presentation)
World of Quest (Best Artist, Best Graphic Album—Original)

… and let’s not forget How to Make Webcomics, which got the nod for Best Biographical, Historical or Journalistic Presentation.

Now, the Harveys have come in for some criticism. This is a natural and expected result of awards nominations, but this year’s Harvey noms seem especially capricious. The problem seems to be that not enough people are voting, so the results are easily skewed by a small group. Adding webcomics to the mix increases the number of potential voters but also the number of potential winners; ultimately, I think, the nominators need to have some sort of list, at least as a starting point. On the bright side, though, they seem to have followed the philosophy I espoused regarding the Eisners and are nominating webcomics in all categories, not just online comics.


Left to our own devices: Archie’s here

Over at Robot 6, I talk to Archie Comics editor Steve Oswald about their deal with iVerse to put Archie Comics on the iPhone. Oswald says they have plans to make quite a few comics available that way, and at least one will drop the print edition and go iPhone only.

Robot Comics is launching a line of Creative Commons comics, which will be available for free on iPhone/iPod Touch and Android platforms. The selection includes Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now, the Japanese webcomic Ubunchu, and Misery Depot.

Interestingly eclectic indy publisher Top Shelf is debuting comics for the Kindle, starting with Andy Runton’s Owly.

Calvin Reid, editor of Publishers Weekly Comics Week, takes the Kindle DX out for a test drive and finds it to be not too much different from the Kindle 2—mainly bigger.

The Kindle DX review blog links to more reviews of the Kindle as comics reader.

UClick has a free Eisner Awards app that lists the nominees and provides background info and sample images. And it will update shortly after the awards are announced on July 24!

Not comics, but tech-related: Mark Sigal takes a look at the rumored Apple tablet and why it would be the technology of choice for aging Boomers (thanks, Mark!) and Fast Company takes a look at how Apple might outflank Amazon in the e-book arena.


Links: Ads, Flash comics, and lots of reviews

Joey Manley is doing an experiment that may be of interest to those of you who are planning to finance their webcomics by flogging merch: He’s testing the return on investment of three different ad schemes, Google AdSense, Project Wonderful, and Facebook. He explains it here and has a progress report here.

The Daily Cross Hatch posts a short comic by Raina Telgemeier, whose webcomic Smile is going to print early next year.

Gisele Lagace, who recently wrapped up her artistic duties on the long-running Penny and Aggie (still written by T Campbell but now illustrated by Jason Waltrip) has a new strip, Eerie Cuties, a humorous take on the vampire-school genre.

Warren Craghead reviews Franklin Einspuch’s poetic webcomic Crabapple. The review is considerably longer than the comic but points out what makes it tick.

Department of unfortunate coincidences: Scary Go Round introduced a new character recently who bears a more-than-passing resemblance to The Gloved One. Oops! Creator John Allison notes

The last thing anyone expects, when they have introduced a character who is a kind of grotesque version of a world superstar, is for that superstar to die. It is entirely possible that Michael Jackson sat down to read Scary Go Round yesterday, began to turn slowly purple at what he saw, and collapsed clutching his arm. Actually I know that isn’t true. Jackson was on record (citation needed) as more of a Dresden Codak man.

Anyway, Allison has the comic written and thumbnailed up to well into July, which just goes to show that there can be such a thing as working too far in advance.

At Fleen, Gary Tyrrell, has an appreciation (not a review) of Infinite Typewriters, the print version of Goats.

Sandy Debreuil has a three-part series on using Flash to create webcomics at (inking, making word balloons, and a step-by-step demonstration).

El Santo has been busy lately, posting reviews of Raven’s Dojo, Sin Titulo, The Black Cherry Bombshells, Let’s Be Friends Again, and Earthsong at The Webcomic Overlook. Lots of good stuff here; in some cases, the review is more entertaining than the comic.