Friday, January 25, 2013

My Rebuttal to "How Digital Comics Change the Way Comic Books are Drawn - And Imagined"

The great Mike Oeming ( posted a link on Facebook to an article written by Jim Rugg over at Here's the direct link:

How Digital Comics Change the Way Comic Books are Drawn—And Imagined

It was a thought provoking article. To drastically paraphrase the thesis was that printed comics are no match for the high-end digital displays that you can now view digital comics on whenever and where ever you choose. He ends with, "Hopefully the printed editions will catch up."

I responded on FB, but for some reason I was unable to get my reply to post on Gizmodo, so here are my thoughts, and I'd love to hear the thoughts of other fans and pros:
I've done very little work for the print comic industry, but I've had some experience and I've had the distinct pleasure of being taught by some top comics professionals about the mainstream comics process of coloring comics and getting them to print. 

Technology, method of delivery, and method of display (magazine wracks to digital displays) have always been a primary consideration when formatting and creating comics whether for print or digital. In this particular case I believe that good old print could be as good or better than their digital counterpart. 

I currently do digitally painted art for the video slot machine industry that is meant to be displayed only on a digital screen. We have the luxury of knowing exactly what type of screen and exactly what calibration the art will be viewed on because we manufacture all of the hardware involved. I work on the same monitor that goes into our slot machine cabinets. 

Where am I going with this? I've had the displeasure many times of having to display my work on various TVs and non-spec monitors in meeting rooms during game update meetings. I say displeasure because the art NEVER looks the same as it does on my game-spec monitor at my desk, and I'll have to remind the bosses that what they are seeing is not the right color, contrast, saturation, brightness, etc, and to please visit me at my desk for a proper viewing. (just to clarify, by bosses are really cool about it, I just hate to see my work looking washed out, too dark, discolored, etc.)

The point is that even in digital delivery of the final product an artist cannot predict exactly what the end user is going to see on various types of screens and devices. In comics, and really most media outside of the slot machine industry, artists don't have the luxury of being able to view (and tweak) the final art for
 every digital device that their art might be viewed on. And that is exactly why I think that print comics might still be able to be better products than their digital counter parts. Printers can provide color proofs, which artists can use to tweak their work for final print. You can never do that with every digital device that your comic might be viewed on. 

Unfortunately it's my understanding that color artists in mainstream comics don't get a proof of the art prior to the final print run. My understanding is that due to anything from deadlines concerns to communication issues with the printers, The mainstream comics industry has yet to perform this type of quality check. Thesis here is that printed comics COULD be as good or better than the digital version is if the comics companies slowed down and involved the artist a little more in the final steps of producing the printed product. 

Oh, yeah, and I love digital comics, but there's nothing like curling up with a real book. Yes, I'm middle aged, but for at least another 20 to 30 years my point of view and spending habits are still valid, so I say make the printed version a better product instead of writing it off as an outdated piece of technology.

Again, I'd love to hear any feedback from other fans and professionals.

For anyone who is interested, I posted a link to this on FB, and the few pros that have offered feedback have basically said that an artist proof would likely fix the problems with print, but that mainstream comics companies aren't likely to push for that because it would slow down the production process. So, it's money vs elevating the art form and money wins. Seems a little short sighted considering that raising that art form might actually boost sales in the long run. Oh, well.

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