Left to our own devices: Comics on handhelds

Chris Ullrich covers the Comics on Handhelds panel at SXSW.

At Publishers Weekly, Michael Fitzpatrick takes a look at Fujitsu e-book reader, recently launched in Japan, which seems to be the first e-paper reader to incorporate color. The FLEPia will go on sale April 20, and it sounds a lot like the Kindle except for the color and the fact that it costs $1,000. According to the article, the Fujitsu folks are working on bringing the price down and developing a U.S. edition, so stay tuned.

Brendan Wilhide reviews ComicZeal, an iPhone app that allows you to read comics, in color, using the standard iPhone navigation (swipe, pinch, tap). You can download some Golden Age comics for free or import your own in standard formats.

On the other hand, Sean Kleefeld expounds on the chief disadvantage of reading comics on the iPhone and similar devices: They are too small.

At Salon, Olly Farshi reviews the iTunes version of James Patterson’s graphic novel Daniel X.

Moving in a perfect cultural circle, British creator Sean Michael Wilson has just sold a comic for adaptation to Japanese mobile phones and e-books. The title? It’s a Japanese translation of his comic Lafcadio Hearn’s Japanese Ghost Stories—that’s right, a British comic about Japanese literature is being translated into Japanese. (I have seen the print version of the comic, actually, and it’s lovely.)


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ Zach Weiner of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal


It’s not too often that errors are made here at Digital Strips. We pride ourselves in a grueling, fact-checking process that involves no fewer than thirty top men and women who in turn pride themselves in running each blog post through a battery of tests to determine whether or not an article is fit to make it to the front page.

Unfortunately, these fact-checker all-stars cannot accompany me on trips to conventions, so I’m bound to make a mistake or two. Like this one! Where I accidentally referred to the animal inhabitants of the B&B where Zach Weiner and his fiance, Kelly, stayed while they were in MA for NEWW, as emus when everyone knows they were actually llamas. I was apparently very convincing in my falsehood, though, as I got Kelly to play right along.

But that’s not why we’re here! We’re here because I got the chance to sit down with a webcomics all-star, the aforementioned Mr. Weiner, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and the tragically snuffed out superhero parody, Captain Excelsior. As a huge fan of both works, it was great to sit down and pick his brain for a moment or two. Bonus points for scoring another member of the growing Webcomics Wives Club as well! (As they said at NEWW, mark it on your webcomics bingo board!)

More bonus points: listen in for a snippet of information regarding the upcoming DS strip relaunch! 


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ David Willis of Shortpacked!


There are some writers, in both comic books and webcomics, that write for the sake of continuity. It’s about the story, seamless and long-form, and the characters are simply there to help that tale along. Fun becomes a happenstance consequence in regards to the greater good of the almighty plotline and eventually it doesn’t matter who’s pulled into a story because each character is as paper-thin as the next.

But then there’s David Willis. The young creator of Shortpacked! (and many others) excels at developing characters, people (and automobiles and deceased ex-Presidents) who have a purpose for being and who can make any situation instantly entertaining, not because of what they’re doing, but because of who they are. This is really all just a drawn-out way of saying Willis has crafted some immensely satisfying moments with his characters on Shortpacked! and you must all go and read them right now.

After you listen to this interview with the man himself, of course.


Links: NEWW and beyond!

Lee Cheriolis was at New England Webcomics Weekend, and he posts the first of several videos, this one being Print vs. Web vs. A Bear, at Blog@Newsarama. Kevin Hodgson of The Graphic Classroom made a video, too.

Chickenhare creator Chris Grine is parting ways with Dark Horse and putting his comic online. (Via Robot6.)

Here’s another find from Robot6: a Webcomics 101 article from Interface, which styles itself “The Journal of Education, Community, and Values.” You can tell it’s a scholarly article ‘cos there’s footnotes!

In a rare moment of unanimity, we all really hated The Black Cherry Bombshells when it ran on Zuda, but the joke was on us: BCB won their month, and they are now celebrating their first anniversary. Plus I met the creators at NYCC and they were really nice guys who looked like they were having a good time making their comic. I’ll be reviewing it soon, but in the meantime, check out all the anniversary happenings on their MySpace blog. And look, here’s an interview by their local paper!

CSI: Colonies: The Smithsonian has a new kids’ webcomic, The Secret in the Cellar, about a forensic mystery from the 17th century, based more or less on fact. (Via The Graphic Classroom.)

Xaviar Xerxes talks to Brian Brabendererde, creator of Soul Chaser Betty, and Monty Kane of Planet Saturday at ComixTalk.

Brian Heater interviews Nicholas Gurewitch, creator of Perry Bible Fellowship, at The Daily Cross Hatch.

Larry Cruz reviews a manga with teens that look like teens, Evil Diva, at The Webcomic Overlook.

New blog alert: The UK site Down the Tubes has launched a news blog focusing on digital and mobile comics.

At the Newark Webcomics Review, Allison Bergh checks out a workplace webcomic, My 25 Percent.

New webcomic to check out: Darwin Carmichael is Going to Hell (rec’d by Valerie d’Orazio via Twitter).


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ Ryan Sohmer of Least I Could Do, Looking for Group


Never let it be said that Ryan Sohmer is a boring man. While his entourage/small tactical force sold the goods and made the sketches (that would be Lar DeSouza, artist on Least I Could Do and Looking for Group), Sohmer sauntered around the show floor, trademark Red Bull in hand, shaking hands and just generally chatting with those who had come to see him in the flesh.

There was one point on Friday where I joked with other creators about the Halfpixel guys rolling in, wearing matching aviators, and walking in slo-mo with their coats billowing in the breeze. After meeting the Blind Ferret crew, however, I’d say the title of toughest team in webcomics is still up for grabs. I’ll be in talks with Mer about a possible steel cage death match for next year’s NEWW to decide that title once and for all.

But getting back to meeting Sohmer, what an experience that is! The charismatic creator holds nothing back, even with a recorder at his mouth. I hadn’t bothered to include my DS moniker on my name badge for the weekend, a mistake that Sohmer was happy to call me on (listen to the first few seconds of our interview for the audio context of this error). After that, he was pretty much in control of our encounter.

But next time you have a meet-up at a local bar, Mr. Sohmer, you had better believe I’ll bring my recorder.

(Language slightly NSFW)


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ Angela Melick of Wasted Talent


This interview represents my favorite story of the weekend. Were I a documentarian and had I been filming things, this girl’s story is the one I would have focused on.

Angela Melick is fairly new to the webcomics scene, though not webcomics. Her strip, Wasted Talent, has been around for about four years, though it was only within the last year and a half or so that she really started getting the word out about her work. An engineer by trade, Melick one day decided to really give the comics thing a go and so, she arrived at the first ever New England Webcomics Weekend. 

Thus began the schmoozing, and the networking, and the making of friends. Her bubbly personality and down-to-earth sensibility wore down even the blackest of hearts (I’ll name no names, but form your own conclusions). Before too long, after arriving on Friday afternoon, Melick had gained many new webcomics friends and it seemed she had smoothly and seamlessly integrated herself into the community.

But then, things took a terrible turn, and it would never be the same for Angela Melick.

…nah! A tragic twist would certainly make this moment more dramatic, but there’s really no need for one. Angela was thrilled to meet all the creators she’d traded IMs, Tweets, and e-mails with and I couldn’t help but be happy for her. So check out her stuff at Wasted Talent and also check out the Canadian-bred collective, Cloudscape Comics, of which Angela is a part.

UPDATE: And no, she did NOT call me Justin in the closing moment. I swear she did too, but she insists I simply misheard.


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ Alan Evans of Rival Angels


Networking. That’s the name of the game at any con, and though many did not see NEWW as a convention of any sort, the budding creators and hopeful artists in attendance took every opportunity to hand out samples and talk up their works-in-progress. 

Through the power of the NEWW forums, I found myself one such man, a man who was in need of a carpool. That man turned out to be Alan Evans, creator of Rival Angels, the web’s first and only comic about female wrestlers (and not in a pervy way). Alan and I hung out through the course of the weekend, crawling from pub to pub on Friday night (where the most I drank was two glasses of water the bartender graciously provided to cool down my order of steaming hot french fries) and meeting up periodically throughout Saturday to trade stories of meetings and panels.

Rival Angels fills a niche that I didn’t even know needed to be filled and so we can all thank Alan for that! Stop by the site where he’s got a good NEWW wrap-up underway (and you can even see what I look like in real life!) and stay for the feminine beauty and intense rivalries!


Make Your Vote Webcomics ~IN~ The 2009 Harvey Awards

This has unfortunately fallen off the radar for us around the Digital Strips offices, but that could partly be attributed to last year’s webcomic Harvey going to a top-notch strip that hasn’t updated in at least a year’s time. 


Still, that’s why you, yes YOU, need to get on the stick and get your Harvey ballot out before midnight on Friday. Go to HarveyAwards.org and get either your PDF or text file and fill that sucker out! Professional is such a lenient term these days that you can probably mention the strip you do (because, let’s face it, you ALL do strips now) and get your ballot seen by the proper eyes.

Everyone is mentioning their own nominees, from David Malki touting his first Dark Horse produced collection, Beards of Our Forefathers, to Scott Kurtz requesting that the webcomics love be dispersed to the well-deserving women of webcomics who have really blown up in the last year.

Both Kurtz and Malki are also quick to nominate the Halfpixel-produced How to Make Webcomics in the Best Biographical, Historical, or Journalistic Presentation category. Ryan Sohmer also throws his and buddy Lar DeSouza’s hats into the ring as well, so with so many great names in the running, it really will be hard to choose.

But that’s why you have to get out there and do your part! Together, we can make sure these awards go to the right recipients!


NEWW Interview ~WITH~ Paul Southworth


I’m not sure what the creators of webcomics are used to in terms of interviewing style, but the one I employed at NEWW sure ain’t it. I won’t say it was Michael Moore-esque, but guerilla tactics were utilized to get what I needed. Case in point, my hallway rendezvous with Paul Southworth, formerly of Ugly Hill and currently of… well, that’s still a mystery, isn’t it?

As I figured might be the case, it’s hard to track down people when you have little idea what they look like (sure, Southworth has a Twitter icon, but who in webcomics DOESN’T have dark hair and a goatee?). I was forced to rely on my auditory skills during those first few hours to pick up on the recognizable names and put them together with the correct faces. In short, I saw Paul early on and THOUGHT it was him but waited for confirmation from a colleague before pouncing.

Luckily, Mr. Southworth (or is that your father’s name?) was gracious enough to indulge my curiosities, even going as far as to drop a clue about who he might be collaborating with next (his first, as the interview tells it). So listen in and see if your deductive powers can crack the code!

Also, yes, guerilla tactics sometime lead to collateral damage, heard here in the form of a wee boy who went trotting by during the interview. Do as we did; chuckle and move on.


Webcomics From Memory ~FEATURING~ Kris Straub, David Willis, and David McGuire


Yet another NEWW panel has been collected and whittled down to its essence, leaving you, the listener, to enjoy the very best parts, this time, via Gastrophobia’s David McGuire!

The panel was “Webcomics From Memory” and the participants were:

The challenge? Each creator was asked to draw various characters, chosen by the audience, and to do so solely from memory. The results are amazing, frightening, and confusing. Enjoy all of the above! 

And thanks again to David McGuire for the summation. Look for an interview with the inimitable creator in the coming days!