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10 Questions With Ben Humeniuk
Creator Of Bro-D Can't Be Broken
Reviewed last week, Bro-D Can’t Be Broken is available from Band Of Bards Comics, and I had the chance to ask creator Ben Humeniuk 10 questions about digital comics…
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1. Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
I’m Ben Humeniuk, an educator and cartoonist from the fine U.S. state of Texas. I’m rearing three vibrant children with my dear wife, teaching literature and creative writing at our local high school, and I’m currently working on a few short stories for various comics anthologies—all while preparing for the release of my new graphic novella called BRO-D CAN’T BE BROKEN.
2. What drew you to digital comics?
Necessity and availability, I’d say. I remember the perfect storm of DC’s New 52 initiative (that made day-and-date digital a reality) going alongside the apex of Tumblr’s comics culture in the 2010’s. Making and posting ten-image stories on Tumblr for a crowd of ready-to-reblog friends seemed like it wasn’t a far cry for doing a Comixology Submit book. The scene was burgeoning and the potential reach was big! And it didn’t hurt that this coincided with the rise of the iPad and the increased appeal of reading comics on a tablet.
3. Webcomics or digital comics?
I think Webcomics have carried the day if my high school students are to be believed—a good portion of my English students enjoy reading vertically scrolling Webtoons, since they fit perfectly with reading on one’s phone. I still read standalone digital comics myself, especially when I back a Kickstarter comic campaign or when I check books out on the Hoopla Digital library service, but the ease of pulling up a Webtoon app is fantastic.
4. What do you think works with digital comics?
Emotional stories, a hook paired with intriguing (and imperfect characters), and the willingness to save time by rendering less and using more CG-created assets in service of telling a satisfying regular story.
That’s not to say that every webcomic needs to fit the Webtoon model now. But this avenue of comics requires us to move from designing for the page to designing for the panel at least, and the scroll more broadly.
5. Can digital comics replace print comics?
I don’t think they can or should, much in the same way that film lovers will still buy the discs of a movie that’s also available to stream, or a music lover will seek out the vinyl copy of an album that grabs their hearts. Digital seems to be a buffet that’s easy and cheap to access; once we know what dishes we love most, we seek them out in a tactile and collectable way as well.
6. How can print comics work with digital comics?
I think the wisdom among indie comics makers (ones who crowdfund) is that you need a digital comic offering as a cheap entry point for your audience-- but you ultimately want to generate a print product that can be sold at a con table or in a comics shop. There are plenty of fellow creators who I support by donating to the digital tier of their campaign, but I know that really goes to subsidize the creative team for their efforts and the ability to print the book if the goal is met.
7. What don’t you like about digital comics?
Honestly, it’s tough to replicate the tactile experience. Feeling a paper stock or spot gloss, smelling the paper and glue of an issue—there are elements that invite both nostalgia and sensory engagement on a print book that digital doesn’t replicate well for me. I think digital comics are more disposable in feel, more meant to be consumed and less likely to be treasured. I’m not sure how to bound over that personal barrier.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
I keep up with Let’s Play, Chainsaw Man, and most of my DC/Marvel/Image/etc reading through comics apps. Other than that, I’ve gotten a good library of PDFs from various indie comic-makers’ crowdfunding campaigns—but I need to organize them more effectively!
9. Where do you see digital comics going from here?
I wish I had a compelling answer for this! I’ve always been a late adopter, myself, but I’m still inclined to see them as additive to physical comics. Digital comics are an introduction, an easy way to get into compelling stories and characters—but I can name for you at least five students of mine who, after reading a story like Berserk via pirated means, went out and started buying the leather-bound Deluxe editions of the story. They won’t supplant, but they do seem to work well as the overture.
10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
My eyes are on Zestworld right now. They’ve got capital, they’ve got talent that performs well in comic shops and bookstores, and they seem to be creating compelling series in the Webtoon tradition. Global Comix also looks like it’s positioning itself as a real alternative to Comixology. They’re indie-friendly too, and highly open to community input!
What are your thoughts on these answers you can: