Discover more from 3 Million Years
10 Questions With Fred Kennedy of Dead Romans
Out Next Week!
Out next week is the excellent-looking Dead Romans -
I had the chance to ask writer Fred Kennedy 10 questions about comics.
1. Who are you and what are you working on right now? (2 questions in 1, I know!)
I’m Fred Kennedy and am currently working on a comic called Dead Romans with Shadowline and Image Comics.
2. What drew you to digital comics?
A few years ago I was working on a fan project revolving around the initial Alpha Flight run. I managed to track down a few floppies, and the same week I bought them I left one on the train after work. After muttering to myself and posting about it on Twitter a friend DM’d me and said I could probably find it on Comixology. So voila…that was it!
3. Webcomics or digital comics?
I read Penny Arcade as well as Cyanide & Happiness for years. I was working overnights on the radio and would pour over anything online that kept my focus and helped eat time while playing The Eagles for the four billionth time. I still love them both actually, but I don’t find myself seeking them out like I used to. I really like Sarah’s Scribbles too…seriously, I also have a habit of unloading all of my unusual interests on people and irritating them as I hijack conversations. Which tends to be a running thread with her work.
BUT I need to stay true to myself and say I love digital comics more so than webcomics.
4. What do you think works with digital comics?
Colours and textures. Also the way the panels can shift and morph and move. It can really help draw the eye to specific parts of the page. If anything those motion tools if used properly are another asset to the creative team. There’s a Canadian writer named Howard Wong (AFTER THE CAPE) and years ago he was telling me about his plans to create a comic that read like a scroll…he wanted to incorporate the motion aspect of digital comics and incorporate it into a comic format that read like a scroll, where you just keep moving to the right, like you were in the process of unrolling it and it flowed. It was a wild idea that would only work digitally, and that was something that has always stuck out.
I don’t think it’s fair to just take a print comic, throw it into a digital format page by page or panel by panel and say, “Voila! A Digital Comic!” It’s a digitised print comic.
There’s a difference.
5. Can digital comics replace print comics?
Maybe they will at some point, but the tactile nature of losing yourself in a print comic is very much a unique experience. Not even just the reading, but actually finding the books you want, the hunt as opposed to a search bar. It’s like record shopping, I remember spending hours on days off looking through bins for used CDs and tapes. That was part of it, finding it. Like a treasure hunt, and sometimes you’d buy an album you weren’t really even looking for just cause it grabbed your eye.
That still happens, but it’s definitely not the draw it once was. With comics, you still have that to a much larger extent. The audience still dedicates themselves to the hunt. At least in my circle. Maybe we’re the dinosaurs?
Maybe my kids will ONLY read things digitally when they’re older and it’s cheaper or more convenient. They still read print comics…but they could have gotten that habit from me? I suppose it’s entirely possible my grandkids could grow up only reading comics digitally. With the way technology is advancing, who knows?
6. How can print comics work with digital comics?
I mentioned earlier about incorporating the motion aspect. That really is one of my favourite things, when the panels almost move from one to another. Also, the colours on digital comics really pop, and there are times (especially in older comics) where the print technology just couldn’t handle what the artists were putting out. The first thing that comes to mind is Bill Sienkiewicz’s run on Moon Knight. Those pages are INSANE! His art is wild, and when you look at those original floppies, they just don’t do his work justice. BUT the digital version…man…you really see his skill front and centre. They are GORGEOUS!
However by the ’90s, especially with those semi-gloss pages Image was using, a lot of those problems had been corrected. I do find myself perusing the back issues on ComiXology a lot. I think 85% of my ComiXology purchases have been back issues for that reason…the art!
7. What don’t you like about digital comics?
I LOVE double splashes. They are one of my favourite things in comics, period. I know artists hate them, well some do. Especially when they’re used for a massive battle scene. But they’re so epic. Like when you turn the page and get kicked in the soul by this massive sweeping expanse of imagery…and you can peer into the corners, all those details.
They’re so rad…and in a digital format they don’t feel the same…because all the panels are similar in size. When you have the print copy and you have the previous pages with their normal panels, and they set you up for that big reveal and you turn, the relative scale change adds to the impact of the story. It doesn’t play that way in the digital space.
8. What digital comics/webcomics do you read?
I think I inadvertently covered this already. Sorry. I’m rambling…
9. Where do you see digital comics going from here?
I think you’re gonna see more and more comics go digital first with the print copy as an afterthought—or maybe no print edition at all. I was bantering with one of my friends about this years ago, and they were insisting that print is never gonna disappear. Which, yeah, is entirely possible, but I definitely see it taking more of a back seat. I also see more and more digital comics incorporating real life products into the art to supplement the loss of print sales. Like ads WITHIN the comic.
I know that sounds weird, but really. AEONS ago when World War Hulk was happening there was an The Irredeemable Antman comic where every page featured Old Spice Products. Phil Hester was the artist on that one, and he said he got the idea from Arrested Development when they would do blatant plugs and use it for comedy. Burger King, Ford, etc.
It really was ridiculous and funny, and they added that absurdity to the comic pages themselves. There’s a scene where Antman winds up being swallowed by The Hulk, and while floating around in his stomach there are bottles of Old Spice Body Wash.
I know that was a joke, but I really do see that as being a legitimate method of recouping money lost from a lack of print sales. You would see characters driving a new Ford, or using a specific model of Apple Computer. Something like that.
10. Who do you think we should look out for in digital comics?
Honestly, I would lean on the same names I would for print comics. Adam Gorham, Mike Walsh, Ed Brisson, Soo Lee, Jenn St Onge, Sanya Anwar, J Torres, Val De Landro, Cary Nord, Mike Del Mundo. I could go on…but this is a lot of reading already.