“Digital has the potential to open up comics readership beyond the comic book store” Knuckleheads writer Brian Winkeler tells us “why I love digital comics”
The second in our fantastic series of guest columns sees Brian Winkeler, writers of our ‘11th favourite MonkeyBrain Comics‘ title tell us all about what he loves the world of digital comics.
My initial honest answer is: because I write one.
We’re currently almost finished creating the fourth issue of my Monkeybrain comic Knuckleheads. I’ve written the first draft of the script for issue five and have loosely plotted the next three issues in my head, with issue #8 answering at least a couple of questions that readers and critics have asked about the characters’ origins. Hopefully fans will find the answers a bit unexpected, but that’s our goal for Knuckleheads: to deliver something a bit unexpected.
And I guess that’s as valid an answer as any for why I love digital comics. Thanks to the amazing Allison & Chris at Monkeybrain, Robert Wilson IV and I get to publish a goofy superhero sitcom every couple of months. And they’ve got roughly 30 other titles that don’t conform to the comic book norm. Quite a few could have found a home at an independent print publisher like Image or Oni. Some may have never found a home other than online. But digital allows little-known creators like me the opportunity to get our work out without having to deal with printing, distribution and the kind of marketing necessary to inspire humans to pick up a physical book and pay three or four bucks for it.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE printed comics. I love great comic book stores. I love the community that has been an inherent part of comics for my entire life, and I think we’d lose something in our culture if comics shifted solely to digital and it became a fully solitary experience.
“Digital has the potential to open up comics readership beyond the comic book store”
But I also like how digital has the potential to open up comics readership beyond the comic book store. Because we all know a ton of people who, for whatever reason, will never enter a store. Maybe they’re just not interested. Or maybe they’ve been to a terrible store and swore to never return. I’ve been to some of those stores and they’ve made me rethink the attitudes I expressed in the previous paragraph.
But digital means I can tell my friends about it who don’t read comics but do own iPads. And I can tell them that I write a book that’s a comedy first and a superhero story second. I’m influenced much more by sitcoms and big-screen comedies than they are by most mainstream comics (and I’ll be honest, the only mainstream books I read anymore are the idiosyncratic ones like Hawkeye and FF. The vast majority of my purchases are from publishers like Image, IDW and Boom!). So I’ve found some luck selling the comic to non-comics readers by simply promising them something that’s much more in their comfort zone than, say, the latest death-filled crossover event.
Digital also means I can play around a bit with how we tell our story. I’ll admit we’ve been structuring Knuckleheads to be read as easily in print as digital, but as we’re getting more comfortable and confident, we’re starting to think of ways we can take advantage of digital (like ComiXology’s Guided View) so that it’s not just paper comics on a tablet.
And I’m working on another project (an action tale called ‘Number One Hit’) with an artist who’s much more influenced by animation than comics, so we’re planning to take advantage of that in how we structure the flow – possibly even using some of the tricks that publishers like Thrillbent and Madefire are using to add a new level of storytelling to the form.
I love digital comics because we’ve just started to figure out what they are and what they can do. And my greatest hope for them is that we can not only broaden our readership, we can also broaden the opportunities for lucky schmoes like me to get their work into the marketplace.
I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Brian Winkeler is the writer of superhero sitcom book Knuckleheads which is published exclusively by Monkeybrain Coimcs on ComiXology. For more of this words of wisdom you can follow him on twitter @brianwinkeler