Interesting debate

Monday August 20th 2012, 11:06 am

At this fun link below, DC has posted on their site a very flattering brief article about my work, very nice of them…

DC Article

But what I find most interesting is in the comments section this debate that was immediately raised, that Batwoman and some of my other projects being difficult to read as digital downloads for an eReader device. So here is my two cents about comics for these types of devices. I find comics that are for this format to be perfectly fine, but I also feel I shouldn’t have to alter what I do specifically to accommodate this relatively new technology format, especially because its evolution most likely is far from done. My approach to storytelling is specifically something I’m interested in as an artist exploring how to visually tell a story. I prefer to experiment with it all, and right now eReaders are designed for conformity for the most part, for the basic traditional page, which is usually fine. But there are plenty of other comics creators besides myself that defy this traditional expectation. As artists we should not be expected to conform something we’ve been long doing well before eReaders ever existed. Comics are more than doing things in expected ways, thats part of the beauty of our medium, in my opinion, and it may be considered a bit stale, but I really don’t care, is that eReader technology needs to catch up to us, to the creators, who like myself have been experimenting with comics for well over a decade.

Well there ya have it. Yes, my view may be considered out of date, but honestly, if an artist can’t fully express themselves as they wish to because of tech formats, then its technology that really should adapt, and ya know, most likely it will. The eReader experience is wanting to duplicate the “real” reading experience as much as possible, so I believe we will see a time not far down the road where we’ll have devices that can accommodate a more wide range of our medium’s perspectives.

22 Comments so far
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I’ve decided to start getting some comics as digital only while still maintaining a pull list at my local store for those titles I want to collect in print. When it came to Batwoman, it wasn’t even a question. I knew with your style that the experience would be better in print, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m glad that you do things differently and don’t follow a standard format.

In addition to Batwoman’s story, I also enjoy the way that you choose to tell that story. I’m not sure I could look at the character the same way if she was confined to traditional rectangular space. I’ve even enjoyed seeing that some of your style has followed the character into her crossover in the Batgirl title.

Comment by Johnny B 08.21.12 @ 12:26 pm

I’m in the process of making an awkward switch to digital; overwhelming benefits but like Johnny B there are print titles I Must Have; Batwoman by a mile, Wonder Woman, and recently with both Saga and Carbon Grey I caught myself thinking “I want these in print now”.

Saw the DC piece earlier (Promethea!) and the guy who made that comment says “but I don’t buy print comics any more” which strikes me as a strange mindset; shooting himself in the foot surely?

JH – I don’t see anything out of date about your view; that unwillingness to compromise and desire to experiment and express sound precisely the opposite!

Out of interest, may I ask what sort of ereader developments you were thinking of…how the image is projected or viewed…that sort of thing?

Comment by David Rand 08.21.12 @ 1:53 pm

Oh, please, I’m begging you – please never, ever change the way you present your art. It’s YOUR art, and we are the lucky recipients. I understand digital readers and all that – heck, I love my Kindle – but I also don’t attempt to view art on it. I’m lucky enough to hold your vision in my hands every month, I’m honored to personally own some of your panels … art should be decided on solely by the artist, without any other considerations.

Comment by Pam 08.21.12 @ 5:39 pm

I read the hard copies and I get the digital copies of BATWOMAN.

I have reread your ‘TEC run and BATWOMAN (excluding 12, since it’s only been a week) half a dozen times on my iPad. I have had no problem with the double page sequences (although, ‘TEC 859 has an error – one double pager is split in two).

I don’t even flip the iPad horizontally when I read them. I zoom in and read it.

BATWOMAN and I, VAMPIRE (another book with a lot of double-page sequences) pop on the iPad – they look stunning.

Comment by HellBlazerRaiser 08.21.12 @ 6:10 pm

Hey there Johnny B
Thanks. I’m glad you enjoy the print version so much. Digital is fine for those that want it, but I prefer to be able to toy with things the way we can right now in print. I’ve yet to see the Batgirl issue, but look forward to it when I do.

Comment by jhw3 08.21.12 @ 11:57 pm

Hello David Rand
Thank you for supporting my view to handle things the way that I do. As for future eReaders being more accessible to work such as mine, with some of the technologies on the horizon that are already being developed such as digital papers that are flexible to touch much like real paper, I can foresee a time not too far away where the reading experience will be closer to the tactile sensation of a book or magazine that folds and opens up like the traditional print aspect we all know so well. There are samples of this idea already around, just not for public use yet, but they exist, just a matter of making it affordable and perfecting the concept better.

Comment by jhw3 08.22.12 @ 12:04 am

Hey Pam
Thank you very much. I agree with you wholeheartedly, as I’m sure you’ve guessed.

Comment by jhw3 08.22.12 @ 12:05 am

Hello HellBlazerRaiser
Thanks so much for enjoying the work enough to double up on it in formats, good for travel I assume. And excellent to know that you’ve found the digital experience still works for you with Batwoman’s unusual presentation.

Comment by jhw3 08.22.12 @ 12:08 am

In answer to David Rand above:
I don’t buy print comics anymore because 1) My wife complains about how many books, etc I have around the house.
2) If I had a 3D version of the comic I would eventually end up losing it. If I have it on my iPad I have 100s or even 1000s of comics in one object. If I lose the iPad I lose them all but I’m not planning on ever losing it.
3) It’s cheaper.
4) You don’t have to go and buy it and wait for it to get delivered when it comes out you can get it seconds later.
Having said all that I still ended up buyig Chester Brown’s Paying for It as a HC book as it wasn’t available on ComiXology.

And on an iPad guided view you can zoom in on details. You can view it in portrait or landscape, you don’t have to plastic wrap each issue to protect it.
Less storage space etc. I used to buy books now I buy iBooks and it costs a lot less and I can read them anytime and anywhere on a train, during insomnia with all the lights out in the house. You only need to worry about not letting the battery get too low. πŸ™‚

Plus see what Dave Sim is doing with Cerbus High Socity special audio edition. You get the whole issue and he reads and does sound fx for each issue. The future of comics maybe?

Comment by Gabriel McCann 08.22.12 @ 1:32 am

PS really liked the latest Batwoman. Reminds me a lot of your art for Promethea.
We have strict gun laws here in Australia. I don’t have a gun and I would never shoot myself in the foot.
I don’t object to other people buying comics in print. It’s just much more convenient for me on an iPad.

Comment by Gabriel McCann 08.22.12 @ 1:36 am

Hey there Gabriel
Thanks for thoughts on the debate.

Comment by jhw3 08.23.12 @ 12:50 am

PS re. adapting to new technology.
Have you seen this…


Comment by Gabriel McCann 08.23.12 @ 1:42 am

JH3, I’m completely with you on not having to compromise your creativity to accommodate a technology that is really in its initial development. For me personally, I still buy print comics for books with artists that I think are top quality and therefore deserve to be read in their proper format. I don’t think digital comes close yet to replicating that for me. I often find the “guided view” and all of the different ways to view panels distracting at this point.

Comment by Suzanne 08.23.12 @ 6:39 pm

Hey Gabriel
Thats pretty funny

Comment by jhw3 08.24.12 @ 1:02 am

Hello Suzanne
Thanks for sharing your view on the debate. And for your support of my view on it all as well.

Comment by jhw3 08.24.12 @ 1:06 am

JH3, I absolutely agree, and cant imagine not buying physical copies of your work. All I can humbly ask is that if you do ever transition to work your magic in the digital realm, you find a web designer or two, start from scratch, and redefine what a digital experience should be. I honestly think it’d be light years ahead of what people are trying to do now.

That said sir, keep up the good work.

Comment by Ben 08.24.12 @ 10:35 pm

Hey there Ben
Thanks for your input into the discussion. Yeah, I think I’d like to explore it someday, see just what can be fully done with digital manipulation. I’ve had some discussions with a friend about this. The perspective and conclusions we’ve come to is that the possibilities are so enormous that what we envisioned could be impossible to accomplish even though we know technology could support the idea.

Comment by jhw3 08.25.12 @ 11:31 pm

Comic books are an art form in and of themselves. Alan Moore tried to prove this with Watchmen by making a comic book that would not easily be adapted for the feature films. I know that some people had trouble reading Batman #5 (I think that was the issue) because Greg Capullo intentionally drew some of the pages upside down and their e-readers and whatnot kept reversing the images to “correct” them, making the issue difficult for people to read on electronic devices. I read comic books (usually in “floppy”/single issue format) for two reasons: 1) I hate trade waiting. I can barely stand to wait a month between issues. Waiting 6 months to a year might drive me nuts. 2)I’m an old school comic book fan who LIKES having a physical product in my hand so that I can turn the pages by myself, smell that new comic smell and not have to worry about trying to get the images/text to fit on to the screen at the same time.

J.H., please keep creating comics the way YOU want to create them. Your work is amazing and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice it for the sake of a few folks who don’t appreciate the comic book medium for what it is.

Comment by CraigM 08.26.12 @ 11:20 am

Hey there CraigM
I feel similarly, excluding the waiting part :^) I tend to read in giant chunks. I think I caught onto that mode of thinking when I got into reading european stuff. So now I read by arcs rather than chapters/issues. Plus it makes it easier on time for me, something I seem to have increasingly less and less of. Thanks for your thoughts.

Comment by jhw3 08.26.12 @ 9:17 pm

I have no problem reading your work on my ipad. I buy Batwoman digitally, and will be getting the trades as well. I think the advantage of digital comics is obvious for me – I live in country NSW, Australia. in this whole country, we probably only have about a dozen comic shops left. My nearest comic shop is an 8 hour drive away. Thanks to comixology I don’t have to worry about inflated prices, shipping, delays – I get what I want immediately, and it’s awesome. I’m obviously a fan of your work, because I’m posting to your blog, but I really do think you are an innovator in visual storytelling and have no doubt that as digital distribution evolves, you will remain an innovator.

Comment by Tim 08.28.12 @ 2:23 am

Hey there Tim
Thank you so much for your perspective and for the very kind words. And lets hope a good shop opens much closer to you sooner than later.

Comment by jhw3 08.28.12 @ 8:47 pm

God it’s tiresome to keep hearing about these gizmos every five seconds. It’s all flash-in-the-pan, they will be replaced by the next stupid toy and all your i-crap will end up as mountains of e-waste in some destroyed village in China where they can no longer drink the water.

I’ll keep reading comics on paper thank you very much. I will always appreciate art drawn on paper and inking with brush and quill. Hand drawn sound effects too, for that matter. Keep it going.

Comment by Jen 10.05.13 @ 10:36 am

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