GraphicAudio: comics without the art

So, but I came across this a while back and still don’t know what to make of it: GraphicAudio.

What is it? Well, their tagline is “A movie in your mind” and they describe themselves like this:

“GraphicAudio is a unique audio entertainment experience that features a full cast of actors, sound effects and cinematic music.”

So basically they’re audio books, except…well, they have a whole series of DC Comics.

In MP3 format.

I’ll let that sink in a bit.

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See, I get the appeal of “books on tape” or whatever you want to call them. But what I don’t get is giving the same treatment to a comic book. You know, a storytelling medium in which the visual aspect is half the package.

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So it’s like a comic book, except there’s no cool artwork. Or it’s like a movie, except there’s no…um, movie. Sort of like listening only to the audio track of one the DC Universe animated movies.

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I’m completely baffled by this whole concept. I’m not even sure how exactly they adapt a comic book story into an audio-only format. I mean, with a prose book, the voice actor simply reads the book. But with a comic, you have so much of the story that’s communicated without words, through the sequential art. Does the narrator describe the action? “And then Superman punches Darkseid in the face,” or something like that? It seems…awkward, at best.

Anyway, go have a look for yourself if you’re curious. The DC ones are around 6-7 hours in length each, and will cost you $13 for a downloadable MP3, or $20 for 6 CDs.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Vox #1

I’m dipping back into the same well that provided some of the covers from earlier in this feature, so you may remember some of these series. But just because I like grouping these weekly features by theme, we’ll go with science fiction comics, starting off with Vox #1:

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For the debut issue of this 1989 series from Apple Comics, the creators commissioned a John Byrne cover.

Mark Waid on the Big Two

I know, I tend to feature a lot of Mark Waid quotes on my blog. But that’s because he’s one of the few big name creators that a) talks fairly openly about the realities of the comic book business, and b) often has insightful and forward-thinking comments. Anyway, this particular one comes from a very lengthy and in-depth interview with Tom Spurgeon, over at The Comic Reporter blog:

Spurgeon: Is it particularly tough right now for comics to keep their eyes on that prize given the pressure of the corporate demands?

WAID: Yes. It really is. It’s harder than it ever has been before. I think part of that is because as a medium of a 32-page comics, or 28-page comics, or whatever they are right this moment, the standard monthly issues, I think those sales have pretty much plateaued. You look at anecdotal evidence that sales are up on monthly issues, but I don’t know if that’s sustainable and I don’t know if that’s a huge bump up. It doesn’t seem to me to indicate a rising trend. Let me put it this way. I do not know this, I am pulling this speculation totally out of my ass based on some informed conversation, but I would not be surprised if DC’s New 52 had been a hail mary pass. I would not be surprised to learn that Diane Nelson looked at the figures and the overhead and said a couple of years ago, “All right, boys. Pack up shop. We’re going to go reprint.” And Dan [DiDio] and Jim [Lee] and whoever else came in to make their case. “Give us one more shot at selling out comics exclusively to 13-year-old boys.” Again, that is speculation on my end. That probably isn’t true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case.

At Marvel, a little less so, I think. Those people seem to answer to higher-ups that seem to get what they’re doing a little more. They seem to grant a little more creative latitude. But I can certainly see it. There’s always the need to generate profits, move the next quarter. There’s always a need, even more as these companies are absorbed by the Warner Brothers and the Disneys of the world, there’s always more of a need to make the balance sheets shinier every year. It’s a tough job. A lot of times it means doing corporate stuff.

In the same interview, Waid talks openly about being essentially blacklisted over at DC, and forced to move on. It’s a really good read, if you have the time.

Batman Family

Check out this impressive panoramic illustration of the many, many different characters who have played the roles of Batman, Robin, and Batwoman in the comics:
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It’s a commission piece by artist Nate Snareser, whose other works can be found on DeviantArt.

(via Bleeding Cool, which also has a key to all the characters)

Indie Cover Spotlight: Barbarian Comics #3

This week’s theme is indie barbarian comics, starting with the aptly named Barbarian Comics #3:

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Published in 1974 by California Comics, this adults only barbarian anthology seems to have only come out once a year. It also looks like one of the stories in this book by Ron Harris was reprinted a decade in Vanguard Illustrated #5 (Pacific Comics, 1984)

Nominated for 2012 SPACE Prize

I forgot to mention this earlier, but a short story I did with fellow PANEL Collective member Matt Kish has been nominated for the 2012 SPACE Prize in the “minicomics/short story” category. The prize is associated with Columbus’ own long-running indie comic convention, S.P.A.C.E. (Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo). The story appeared in volume 19 of our self-published anthology, titled PANEL: Green.

By the way, you can read the entirety of our “silent” story on Matt’s blog.

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About the SPACE Prize

From the books which were collected at SPACE 2012, we will be awarding the 2012 SPACE Prizes. The prizes will be presented in three categories – General, Minicomic/Short Story and Webcomic. The winners will be picked from three voting bodies in each category. Two rotating judges and the registered SPACE 2012 Exhibitors.

For the full list of finalists, go here. The winners will be announced at the 2013 S.P.A.C.E. on April 13 & 14.

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Dark Horse to collect the underrated “Bloodhound”

Some unexpected and cool news: Dark Horse Comics is collecting writer Dan Jolley’s excellent (and criminally ignored and underrated) 2004 series from DC, Bloodhound. Although creator-owned (kinda, sorta…read the interview for more details) the book was set in the DC Universe, but was fairly self-contained and didn’t really interact much with the superhero crowd. Jolley still had to remove a whole issue that guest starred Firestorm, and make some other cosmetic changes, but it’s cool that DC decided not to be a dick about it and worked with him on this.

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“Bloodhound is about Travis “Clev” Clevenger, a huge, brutal, ex-Atlanta police detective who specializes in tracking down superhuman criminals. Clev had the city’s best record for finding and dealing with superhumans, thanks to a knack for understanding their thought processes. Unfortunately, he had also been having an on-again-off-again affair with his partner Vince’s wife, Trish, for a number of years, and when Vince found out, he attacked Clev with a crowbar. Clev killed Vince and got sentenced to prison.”

The series only lasted 10 issues, and featured interior art by Leonard Kirk and covers by Dave Johnson. It felt to me like the latter was phoning some of the covers in, especially compared to his rock solid covers for other books, but this one in particular has a nice vibe to it:

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The story, pacing, and characterization were top notch. I remember thinking that Jolley was exercising the perfect balance between teasing mysteries, and answering questions. It’s really a shame that DC had no clue what to do with the book, and it boggles the mind to wonder what their though process was when it came to this whole series. Here’s Jolley, being somewhat diplomatic about it:

“As far as challenges, well, DC’s upper brass provided plenty of those themselves. There were quite a few baffling decisions made during the book’s development, and some truly profound lapses in communication, but probably the biggest hurdle was the timing. Bloodhound was approved, straight to series, at the last pitch meeting of 2002, but for some reason I never learned, DC chose not to let it hit shelves until the middle of 2004. In the intervening 18 months, the company engaged in a little event called Identity Crisis. You may remember that. Identity Crisis put every single bit of DC’s focus on the capes-and-tights crowd, and if a book didn’t involve a lot of people with names that ended in “-man,” it got left out in the proverbial cold. And that was the whole point of Bloodhound, clearly stated, from the very beginning: to explore some of the parts of the DC Universe that the capes-and-tights crowd never got to. So not only was there no marketing behind the book, it got hidden so well that even a lot of comic shop owners weren’t aware of it. It was frustrating to be at a con, with Bloodhound issues displayed on my table, and have a retailer walk up and say, “Bloodhound? What’s that?”

Anyway, keep your eye out for the book, it’s a good one.

Cost of print comics

Here’s some more gritty details about the reality of the print market, from an interview with writer Mark Waid:

Toucan: In a recent interview with Pace Magazine you stated “the future is all about digital for me.” Why do you feel that way, and what made you start your own digital comics portal in Thrillbent?

Mark: I’ll take the second question first. What made me start was looking at the cost of print. This is back when I was doing the BOOM! editor-in-chief stuff and BOOM! creative chief officer a few years ago and looking at print costs across the board for all publishers and how insane they were unless you’re one of the top two or three publishers and you’ve got 50% of the market share and your per unit cost is feasible. But if you’re anybody else and you’re doing a comic and it’s got a print run of 5,000 or 6,000 copies and you’re doing a color comic, you’re paying more in printing then you are in everything else put together including editorial and overhead—that’s ridiculous. I’m selling my $4 comic to Diamond for about $1.60 and I’m having to pay a dollar in print costs; that is not a feasible business model.