Digital Comics under the spotlight at October’s Lakes Festival

Art by Daniel Merlin Godbrey
Art by Daniel Merlin Godbrey

Top digital comic creators from both sides of the Atlantic form part of this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival line-up, and several events will focus on this rapidly-evolving comics form, which offers the tantalising opportunity of reaching out to the same kinds of mass audiences who once avidly followed daily newspaper strips in their millions in the twentieth century, potentially reaching beyond the usual “comics audience”.

American Scott McCloud, whose first comics work was the acclaimed Zot! and was an early (and noisy) advocate of digital comics in the 1990s and early ’00s, is one of the major guests in the field at this year’s weekend-long event in October, opening the Festival with a talk titled “The Magic of Comics” on Friday night.

On Sunday, he will join the critically-acclaimed, award-winning British web comics creator Daniel Merlin Goodbrey on stage for “To Boldly Go… A Journey Into Digital Comics“, a panel hosted by Russell Willis, who runs the digital publishing house Panel Nine, whose SEQUENTIAL comics app features a wide and impressive range of comic creators’ work. It also created the app that delivers the digital version of Britain’s weekly The Phoenix comic for iPad users.

Scott McCloud's signature ident online
Scott McCloud’s signature ident online

“Depending on who you ask, I’m either comics’ leading theorist or a deranged lunatic,” says Scott McCloud of his work, “but life continues to be very interesting for me and the ideas that I’ve raised continue to provoke reactions throughout the comics community and – increasingly – beyond it.”

Scott is a regular public speaker and consultant on comics, delivering lectures to the likes of (and at) MIT, Google, Harvard, Pixar, DARPA and about 250 other destinations over the years. He is considered the inventor of the 24 Hour Comic , which has become an international movement over the years, especially with the debut of 24-Hour Comics Day in 2004.

He has been writing and drawing comics since 1984. His books Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics are available in 16 languages. McCloud has lectured and consulted for Google, MIT, Pixar, Harvard University, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Sin City creator Frank Miller called him “just about the smartest guy in comics.”

Scott’s first comics series was Zot! (1984-1991) which he usually describes as “a cross between Peter Pan, Buck Rogers and Marshall McLuhan.” He also created the superhero parody Destroy!! in 1986, and wrote scripts for various Superman comics (12 issues of Superman Adventures, the three-part Superman: Strength, and JLA Adventures #16), and a 1998 graphic novel he says “almost everyone hated”. He’s also created numerous mini-comics.

An episode of "The Last Place" web comic by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
An episode of “The Last Place” web comic by Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, which invites reader participation to continue the story online. Art © Daniel Merlin Goodbrey. 

Daniel Merlin Goodbrey is a prolific and innovative comic creator and a senior lecturer in Interaction Design at The University of Hertfordshire. He has gained international recognition as a leading expert in the field of experimental digital comics. His hypercomic work received the International Clickburg Webcomic Award in Holland in 2006 while his work in print was awarded with the Isotope Award for Excellence In Comics in San Francisco in 2005.

For those who don’t know, a hypercomic can be thought of as a webcomic with a ‘multi-cursal narrative structure’. This means that the reader, by the choices they make, can influence the sequence of events, the outcome of events or the point of view through which events are seen.

Goodbrey’s smartphone app, A Duck Has An Adventure was shortlisted in the 2012 New Media Writing Prize

Russell Willis has worked in publishing for over 25 years, specialising in digital media. He’s created software and systems for Canon, Macmillan, TIME, the British government, Oxford University Press, Pearson, and more. Audiobooks, podcasts, and iOS apps developed by Russell have all reached the Number One spot in Apple’s iTunes charts in Japan, where he is based.

In the 1980s Russell published an acclaimed fanzine, Infinity , contributed to by Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Eddie Campbell, Posy Simmonds and others. He recently rekindled that love affair with comics and is now the president of Panel Nine, which created SEQUENTIAL, a graphic novel storefront app for iPad, and The Phoenix iPad app.

SEQUENTIAL work with the best publishers of graphic novels across the world, including Fantagraphics, Jonathan Cape, Knockabout, SelfMadeHero and Myriad Editions, and aim to expand the market for graphic novels with a carefully curated selection of digital material.

For the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, they have specifically sponsored the digital comics panel “To Boldly Go”, the programme and tote bags.

Scott, Daniel and Russell are just three comic creators – including many more digital comic creators – that form a huge line-up of talent attending this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which runs from 17th – 19th October 2014.

• Tickets for all the events at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival are on sale now. For the full guest list, details of events and bookings visit: www.comicartfestival.com. Sign up for the Festival’s newsletter here for the latest news

• Scott’ McCloud’s  online comics and inventions like the 24 Hour Comic can be found at scottmccloud.com.  Check out Scott’s various digital comic stories and experiments here.

• Scott McCloud on Twitter

• Daniel Merlin Goodbrey – Official Website: http://e-merl.com

• Panel Nine: www.panelnine.com

 

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a “freelance comics operative”, currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY.

John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor.

He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY.

Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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