We’re on a roll with our THREE QUESTIONS interview series! This week we were lucky enough to grab some time with digital comics creator Gabe Bautista.
You might be familiar with Gabo’s art from his work with Oni Press (THE LIFE AFTER), DC Comics (ALL STAR WESTERN, THE SPIRIT), or Image Comics (COMIC BOOK TATOO) – for which he won an Eisner Award. He’s currently working with digital comics collective Thrillbent and, lest we forget, he’s the creator behind the comic book battling site Entervoid.
With our THREE QUESTIONS series we presented the same three questions to different digital comics creators, innovators, and pioneers. The similarities (and differences) in their answers is often both interesting and enlightening.
PERAZZA: What is the best thing about comics specifically made for digital reading?
GABO: Innovation. The way that comics are read online, the pacing most importantly can now be dictated by the writer. A perfect example is this book I’m currently drawing for Trevor Mueller called ALBERT THE ALIEN, which is not only hosted as a webcomic but also on Mark Waid‘s Thrillbent website. At one point in the story when we reveal the identity of the mastermind behind a big mystery, in print form you turn the page and you are presented with a drawing of the character right? Well on Thrillbent, my writer Trevor, builds up the suspense by making each click of your mouse (clicks are used to progress the story forward or backward) reveals a new panel showing a different panel with a different character, each one reacting to the news differently. This new way of reading comics gives the creative team more control on how the story is paced, it’s really exciting to plan and imagine how to build up suspense that could never be achieved via print or even typical web comics.
One other amazing new frontier of digital comics is slightly animated webcomics. My buddy Gene Goldstein and I are working on a project that has the slightest of animations in each panel, like rain falling, a twinkle in a girls eye, smoke coming off a cigarette as the cherry pulses with a glow. Pretty amazing stuff you can’t otherwise do on paper!
PERAZZA: What is the worst thing about comics specifically made for digital reading?
GABO: One of the worst things about digital specific content is the idea that digital comics can’t be seen by people who live in towns with no internet, or electricity etc. I am a first generation Mexican, and when I was a kid my parents would drag us to their technology free hometowns. I distinctly remember my father’s town didn’t even have a phone. Not one. If someone wanted to call you, they would have to call the next town over (which was about a twenty minute drive away) and ask for you, then some kid on a motorbike would have to race to the town you’re in and try to find you. That’s rough.
PERAZZA: That’s a really great point. It’s easy to forget that not everywhere in the world is quite as wired as, say, New York City.
GABO: The town has since upgraded and acquired high speed internet and cell phones, and I know it’s a silly thing to worry about as communication technology is getting cheaper all the time, but still – there are some places out there that won’t get to see your product. Then again, on the print side of the issue, I remember bringing my print comics to Mexico and the kids out there would flip the hell out. It was tough trying to find comics out there, you could only really get them in the big cities, and even then they were a bit hard to find.
PERAZZA: What do you see in the future for digital comics?
GABO: Color e-paper. Where is my damn color e-paper!? I love reading comics on my iPad, but it gets a bit annoying at times. I’ve had a PaperWhite Kindle for a while now and I love reading novels on it, and even sometimes download a few comics that I know will look good in black and white. HELLBOY in particular looks pretty nice, and they’ve got that panel-to-panel system that ComiXology uses, so its not so hard to read it on the tiny device. But still, I’m scared that eInk might have lost the battle against tablets. Especially with how long batteries are lasting these days.
More realistically speaking though, the future for digital comics I feel will be download codes you get from print copies. I’ve seen Marvel and DC doing this as of late on select titles. I hope that someday it’ll be as common as you it is when buying Blurays, and getting a download code for iTunes. God knows I’m running out of room in my house for all these print books – how nice would it be to be able to get rid of the ones I probably won’t read again for ages, and keep them digitally?
PERAZZA: Pretty nice.