I’ve always been a fan of comic books. I taught myself to read with these “four color” wonders. And I’ve been disappointed in recent years as new comic book publishers (Acclaim/Valiant, Broadway, Malibu, Defiant, etc.) tried and failed (though a start-up, CrossGen, may make it.)
However, artist-writer, Scott McCloud — who has written and drawn, among other things, the popular independent series called ZOT! — thinks the “Golden Age” of comics may return, but online, not at the corner newsstand. In fact, that’s the theme of his new book, “Reinventing Comics,” a treatise on the medium’s future written in comic book form and created digitally on his Power Mac.
“There are probably more great cartoonists working today than at any time in comics’ history,” he explains in an Apple Hot News story. “The problem now is seeing to it that they find an audience. There, I think the web is going to be a great help.”
In his book, McCloud explains how comics can be created and delivered digitally. A long time Mac fan, he has recently upgraded to a Power Mac G4, loaded with a 20 GB hard drive and 320 MB of RAM, to create his online comic art as well as his recent printed book, “Reinventing Comics.”
Today superheroes dominate the comic book market, which is one reason McCloud feels that “sequential art” has barely reached its potential. And that’s where the Web comes in. But whereas some artists see web comics as mere onscreen versions of their printed counterparts, McCloud takes the idea even further, according to Apple Hot News. He envisions an infinite canvas on the web, with the reader’s monitor a window looking at a vast digital landscape.
“I think the great opportunity for digital comics is breaking out of the page,” he told Apple. “Taking those 3,000 panels and laying them out at once in a huge landscape.”
McCloud’s work uses HTML and is fairly simplistic, which is the norm for most artistic expression in a new medium, as evidenced by, for instance, early silent films.
“Right now we’re at the stage where D.W. Griffith suggested that somebody actually pick up the camera and put it on a truck,” McCloud told Apple, taking the analogy further. “Now we’re waiting for our Eisensteins,” as in Sergei Eisenstein, director of the 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin, which was considered a watershed in the development of film, one that built on Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.
He sees Macromedia Flash as a tool that will help a new breed of artists create their own “Battleship Potemkins.” And he told Apple that he’s waiting for someone to create an open standard for the digital canvas, which will be necessary to allow more access to the new medium.
“Reinventing Comics” is a printed work, but was created digitally and can be seen as an intermediary step between print and the Web. McCloud drew each page as a rough sketch and scanned it into his Power Mac G4, where it became a dimmed foundation layer. Using a light pen on a Wacom tablet, he finished the pages in Adobe Photoshop. That creative process has carried over to his online comics, and he expects to leave the pencil-and-paper phase behind soon, according to Apple Hot News.
And in his new book, McCloud notes that he has been a fan of Macs since Apple’s early days. To him, his Power Mac and its peripherals are his most important tools.
“I just love my Mac,” he told Apple. “It’s home. It’s where I work every day. And it’s transparent to the extent that what I see on my screen and what I think about on my screen is the work I have to do. That’s the way it should be. I shouldn’t have to worry about negotiating my command line.”