“People get distracted by the technology of digital comics” Moth City creator Tim Gibson talks ComiXology Submit, digital distribution and the secret to a good season finale!
Writer/artist Tim Gibson made his name working for Peter Jackson’s Weta in his native New Zealand, which may sound like a dream job for many, but what he really wanted to do was make comics. Thanks to the new ‘can do’ attitude of the digital comics revolution, and with a grant from the New Zealand government, he has made that dream become a reality as his awesome series Moth City has been released via ComiXology and also on Mark Waid’s Thrillbent site to critical acclaim (Read our review of season 1 here). To find out more about this Kiwi comics sensation we got in touch and asked him to reveal some of the secrets behind the mysterious Moth City!
TG: Moth City is a combination of all the genres I love. There is some horror, some crime and some Kung-fu action all mashed together in a pulpy aesthetic. It has changed a lot in it’s gestation, but these elements have remained.
The characters and the world really came from those interests, but I like to think they’ve developed beyond tropes into interesting individuals over the course of many re-writes and the design process.
Before this you worked for Weta am I right, so what made you want to make the jump to creating digital comics? Was it a lifelong dream?
TG: I had always read comics, though more in a haphazard fashion, I never read an entire 100 issue run of anything until recently. I found it much easier to engage with movies and graphic novels, things you could devour in a single sitting and form an opinion about.
The problem for me, is that when you work in the film industry, like I did at Weta, you realise just how long these projects take, and how many people need to be involved. So even though I have a few contacts in that area, I knew that if I was going to tell my Moth City story, I was going to have better luck doing it in the comic medium. Basically, the only person I had to convince to work on it was myself.
You got your break with funding from the New Zealand government, what’s the Kiwi comics scene like and how did you come up with the idea of getting government funding?
TG: The NZ scene is very small, which means it is quiet easy to get involved in and get support from each other. It was actually listening to a radio interview with a Kiwi comic book artist, Ant Sang, about his Kung fu epic graphic novel ‘Shoalin Burning‘ that I learnt that he had received funding.
Previous to this, I had assumed that they would only be interested in local story’s about local people. Which would really hamper the creativity of your artists, so well played Creative New Zealand.
The series is published online for free as a web comic, what has been the response to that been like? And how do you think giving your work away affects your ability to earn a living from it?
TG: You can read Moth City online for free, people who become members of the site get a free side-comic and the ability to bookmark their place which is a nice change from most long form comics online. The response has been really good. Everyone loves the site (built by two friends of mine Steven Holt and Mark Webster, both UK based), and its a place for me to post up extra pieces of art, blog posts or videos about the process.
I’m not too concerned about lost income from free readers. I see myself as a new gigging band working my way up the live music scene. You start playing for beer and you see where it goes. No one is going to pay $60 to see a band they’ve never heard of.
The site is transitioning into a place where hopefully I can get some money in to pay my Internet costs. We’ve set up a store now where you can buy hi-res DRM free PDFs of the comics for a couple of dollars. It’s a much nicer reading experience and it gives me a bit of change.
You can also buy Moth City comics via ComiXology, which is a nice development.