(Updated): The countdown continues toward a full launch of Electricomics, a research and development project to create an open source app enabling digital comics to be made by anyone.
Announced last May, Electricomics, which has the backing of Britain’s best known modern comic book writer Alan Moore, will include the publication of a new anthology that will feature stories from Peter Hogan, Garth Ennis and Leah Moore and John Reppion.
Now, Leah Moore has released a statement indicating the project is just eight weeks away from Milestone Four of Six they have to deliver on to bring the project closer to launch – and has kindly given us permisison to publish it here in full, indicating it’s been a long and involved road to this point…
Comics is a complex process. You have many people in a long chain, and hopefully if you pass an idea from one end of that chain to the other you end up with a comic. There are good reasons why things work the way they do, and they have been done that way for a long time. There are conventions and tried and tested methods, and professionals who make their living by doing that job the same way every time.
This project has been unconventional from the start. We announced before a word was written, did a convention without a comic to sell, and have done workshops with almost no software to test. The project has thus far been a ghost in the aether. An intangible object, or to put it more bluntly, a lot of hot air.
This month, the time has come to put the art and the words and the tech together into the actual electricomics.
This is the bit that counts. This is the bit where we work out the pipeline for production for real, where we figure out a path between the working practices of the entire comics team, and also the entire technical team.
Time is at a premium, the work still to do is immense, and the only way through it all is one step at a time, working it out as we go.
What filetype do we use? What size? How do you read a balloon when zoomed in, and also when zoomed out.
Comics is usually a constructive process, which each stage bringing together the previous ones, and a neat file being spat out at the end.
Electricomics is a fragmentary almost destructive one, with the art kept as layered files, the pages chopped apart and panels shown one at a time. Each process is complicated, each professional asked for more than usual. The resulting files will be handed off to be assembled by a team of expert but non-comics engineers. Will they put it all back together in the right way, or will it emerge like Frankenstein’s monster, all bolts and stitches and amiable awfulness?
This is the nitty gritty now, this is the bit where we have to put our money where our mouth is.
I find myself holding my breath. Not sure I can hold it for the next eight weeks though…
We’re looking forward to seeing what has come from the year-long research and development phase, although we appreciate we’re still some way off a full launch.
The team that has been assembled to produce new comics for the digital age, utilising new storytelling techniques, creating and using new comic making tools which they must then make freely available to everyone is impressive, to say the least: in addition to Alan Moore, Leah Moore, John Reppion, Garth Ennis, and Peter Hogan, the creators involved include Nicola Scott, Jose Villarrubia, Colleen Doran, Paul Davidson, Simon Bowland and Todd Klein.
With funding from NESTA, supporting them are the research team of Dr Alison Gazzard from the London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey from The University of Hertfordshire. Ocasta Studios have created the app and open source toolkit.
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The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.