Category Archives: podcast

Man of Steel

I’ve held off writing a post about this, mostly because I wanted to get some distance from the film, so I could write about it with some perspective. In the end I managed to say everything I wanted to on the latest episode of the Comic Book Outsiders podcast I co-host with Scott Grandison. We’re now putting out episodes as and when we feel the need, although we used to be fortnightly. So if you’ve only just heard about this now for the first time, there are 5 years of podcasts on iTunes to get through. I’ll wait here until you’re finished.

I ended up speaking about the film it a fairly calm and mostly wounded manner, although I did have a good rant about some fans reactions to the recent Doctor Who casting news. So if you’ve not seen Man of Steel or don’t want to know who the new Doctor is, then I’d skip those bits.

Looking ahead to Man of Steel 2, or whatever they end up calling it, I remain nervous and anxious. I’m worried because the same director looks set to sit in the chair, and I sincerely hope all of those involved in making the big decisions about the new film listen to the genuine concerns that have been raised. Not the fanboy moans about the shield being the wrong shape, or Jimmy being Jenny, or a thousand other tiny things that don’t actually matter. I mean the big things. The contradictions. Clark apparently not caring about the wanton destruction he inflicts upon humanity in one breath and then doing something totally against character to save a single family. The big stuff, the character issues that sit at the very heart of the character and the message he stands for. It may not be what Siegel and Shuster intended when they created Superman, but that is what he has come to mean over the last seventy years. Hope, caring for your fellow man, that every life counts, that there is good in every person and that we can be great as a people in time.

Dark and gritty and humourless doesn’t work for Superman. He’s the light, Batman is the shadow. They work so well together, sometimes, because they are so different. He wants to bring Batman into the light, he wants Batman to believe more in humanity and the belief that there is good in every one. Naive, perhaps. Inspiring, absolutely. Batman experienced first hand as a boy the evil and desperation that lurks in the hearts of men. He doesn’t always see the best in them. That’s one of the many differences between them. Right now, in the new Superman film world, they’re both different shades of grey.

Casting wise for Batman, I hope they go for someone older, with an edge. Like John Hamm, or Josh Brolin, not someone who is young dandy with a chiselled jaw. We need acting chops, we need gravitas, not dreamy eyes and great abs. Time will tell if they listen at all and who they cast, but rather than being excited, as I am by the prospect of more Avengers films, I’m just worried and nervous, which isn’t a good thing.

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I Know Kung Fu

Earlier this week I was one of the hosts on a new podcast I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Bags of Action. I love action movies, so every month a group of people get together and talk about an action movie and then everyone gives it a score. In the first episode we talked about Blind Fury and in the second episode we discussed the 2011 film, Haywire, which stars Gina Carano in the lead. You can find Bags of Action of iTunes if you want to listen, but in short we had a number of issues with the film. However, we all agreed that Gina Carano was the best thing in it.

What came out of that discussion, and a couple of other places, was that with the runaway success of The Expendables and its sequel, and they have already announced plans to make a third Expendables film with Nicolas Cage coming on board, who would you cast in an all female equivalent of The Expendables?

Below are a list of names which are either suggestions from Kim Curran, who I chatted to about this over Twitter, or my own ideas. With each new Expendables film they’ve increased the number of stars in the cast, so let’s pretend there is no limit to how many we could have. So who would you cast in such a film and why?

Gina Carano – We all agreed on Bags of Action that she was amazing in Haywire. You knew that she was doing most (if not all) of her own stunts and every fight scene was her and not someone else. You completely believed that her character Mallory was someone who was very capable of looking after themselves in any situation. No doubt it comes from her own physicality, because of her MMA background and even her time on American Gladiators. Cheesy as the TV show might be, as was the British equivalent, all of the gladiators were fit and athletic people.

Cynthia Rothrock – She is a veteran of dozens of martial arts films and undoubtedly would fill the Sly Stallone role in The Expendables, perhaps pairing up with Gina Carano, as Sly pairs with The Stathem. Although she officially retired from action movies, many of her contemporaries (Norris, Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme) have recently returned to major action roles after many years away. So perhaps someone could persuade her to come back if such a film were ever made.

Linda Hamilton – Unashamedly I’m a big fan of the Beauty and Beast TV series from the late 1980s starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. It was must see TV for me growing up, and I then saw her next in The Terminator. It was only after seeing her in T2 that I had to completely reassess my view of her as an actress. Gone was the gentle, softly spoken, curvy, kind and caring person and in it’s place was this tough, stringy, cigarette smoking, gun-toting, driven and determined soldier. I like T2, despite being very silly in places, but if you look at her role in T2 in isolation, it’s powerful, disturbing and believable as someone who has been locked up because of her delusions about killer robots from the future.

Sigourney Weaver – There’s not much I have to write about her really other than Alien franchise. She’s done it all. She is an incredibly talented actress who has played a wide variety of characters and continues to do so (I’m really looking forward to seeing her in Red Lights), but never was she more terrifying than Ellen Ripley.

Milla Jovovich – Again, I only need to write two words – Resident Evil. I’ve actually never seen any of those films as they don’t appeal, but after seeing her in other films, such as Joan of Ark and The Fifth Element, she should definitely be in the film in an action role.

Ali Larter – This is one of my choices and there again she started off with a couple of roles where she was often running and screaming in front of the camera (Final Destination) but since then she’s portrayed a wider variety of characters. From Resident Evil, to international fame in Heroes as a fairly dark character, to a femme fatale in Obsessed. I think she would be a great addition to the action team.

Gina Torres – I only need one word this time. Firefly. If you’ve not seen the TV show, then go out and rent or buy the DVD, then watch the film Serenity. Then tell me you don’t believe that her character used to be a tough space marine and I will call you a liar. She can play big, strong, tough and intimidating, but she’s also very good at funny, sensitive and caring. A powerful on screen presence and definitely not someone you would want to upset.

Michelle Rodriguez – Just about every film role I’ve seen she has been playing someone tough and usually a cop, marine, a pilot, space marine or similar. I’m sure she is capable of playing another type of character, but in this fantasy action film of my devising, we’re after actresses who are convincing as tough characters, so she is ideally suited for this sort of film.

Two others I would be remiss if I didn’t mention are Cobie Smulders, who did a great turn as Maria Hill in a little film called The Avengers, and Scarlett Johansson who was also very good as Natasha Romanoff. Cobie Smulders is an interesting actress as previously when Joss Whedon was briefly attached to write and/ or direct a Wonder Woman film for DC comics, I believe his choice for Wonder Woman was Cobie Smulders. She’s extremely accomplished as a comedic actor, as her body of work in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ shows, but in The Avengers we get to see a tougher character in a position of authority.

Other names suggested include Lucy Lawless, Wei Zhao, Zhang Ziyi, Nicola Adams, Michelle Yeoh, Anne Parillaud, Zoe Saldana and Chloe Grace Moretz, although I think the latter might be a little young despite her role in Kick Ass.

So, who would you cast, and also, for a bonus point, what would be the title of the film franchise?

EDIT – It turns out this is actually happening. An all female Expendables type film is being made, as was recently reported in Variety, and Gina Carano will be in the film and most likely in the lead role. I wonder how many others listed above will appear.

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What comes next

Last night my co-host, Scott, and I recorded the last episode of our podcast Comic Book Outsiders. We broadcast and recorded it live and some listeners joined in with questions and we even had a guest listener on the show. Unfortunately for him he’d only just discovered the podcast, but at least there is a back catalogue of episodes for him to listen to and lots of interesting comics to discover.

During the show Scott also played a small portion of episode one, where we outlined why we were doing the podcast. Our goal at the time was to promote comics outside the spotlight, those that didn’t get as much attention in the press and comics press, but are equally as fascinating, thought provoking and of equal quality in terms of the writing and art. Over the five years we talked to, and even met, many creative people all around the world making great comics and I hope we managed to open a few eyes and widen a few horizons.

So, what next? Well, I’m not getting out of the podcasting game, but I am easing off on the throttle and I will be doing less. I’ve always been a big SFF reader and as part of the podcast we started The Book Club about 3 years ago. Every 6-8 weeks we talk about a novel, alternating between a classic work of fiction and more modern novel. There are no hard and rigid rules, but we tend to term modern as anything from the last fifteen years or so. We’ve covered a wide range of books from I Am Legend, Caves of Steel, Slaughterhouse 5, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale to more contemporary work such as The City and The City, Empire in Black and Gold, Hull Zero Three and Zoo City. We’ve even been lucky to get some of the authors on the podcast, among them Adrian Tchaikovsky, China Mieville and Lauren Beukes, and pose questions from listeners. For me this podcast is great because it forces me to read some of those novels I’ve always talked about getting around to but never quite managed, both classic and modern. It also forces me to try new stuff and get me out of my usual comfort zone which can make me a bit of a lazy reader. I always have a massive To Read Pile, but the deadline makes me get it done. Another part of the book club I enjoy is receiving feedback from listeners, as they often pick up on things I’ve missed and we always get a wide spectrum of opinions on the book.

There is a Good Reads group here, where you can post comments on the current book club selection and make recommendations for future book club selections if you want to take part.

Every month, but something I’m only taking part in every now and then, is a new podcast called Bags of Action. It mirrors the Book Club in a way, as every month a bunch of people will watch an action movie and then talk about it. We had lots of fun talking about our favourite action heroes on a recent episode of CBO and this is where the seed of the idea came from. There are about seven hosts, and we’ll have guest hosts too, so it will be a rotating cast of people talking about classic and recent action movies. It will be fun and silly and I am really looking forward to taking part. I enjoy movies that make me think and have something to say, but I also like the crazy action-hero popcorn movies. I don’t want to say CBO has not been fun, because it has, but there is an element of work that goesBags of Action into every episode, preparation for interviews, gathering news etc, and then the post-show work, editing, uploading and distributing. The only thing I need to do for this podcast is watch a movie. We’re recording the first episode later this week, so it will be out in another week or so. You can follow Bags of Action on Twitter here and there is also a Facebook group here if you want to talk about action movies, action heroes and all related geek and sundry. Also if you want to recommend action movies we have to watch, then post it on the Facebook group.

The last podcast I’m doing is a new writing focused podcast called Head Space. At the moment it’s monthly but we’ll see if I stick to that schedule. Episode 1 is already out and it is focused on the craft of writing. Every month I will chat to a writer about their process and how they create characters, story, worlds, their influences and where relevant, their experiences with the editing and publishing process. This is not intended to be a teaching podcast or a How To, it’s just a discussion about writing and how that particular personHead Space Podcast approaches it. I enjoy talking to other writers and finding out how they create and hopefully this podcast will provide interesting food for thought for myself and other writers out there. In episode 1 I spoke with Lou Morgan and you can visit the Head Space blog here (it will soon be available on iTunes under its own name if you want to subscribe there), to download the podcast. We talk about her debut book, Blood and Feathers from Solaris Books, which is released on August 2nd 2012 and her approach to writing. The book is being launched this Thursday at Forbidden Planet in London where Lou will be reading from the book and signing. Next month on the podcast, I’ll be speaking to Kim Curran and there will be more info on the Head Space blog closer to the time.

The last podcast on the new CBO network is called the Outsider Files and this is Scott’s new solo venture. I’m not sure about the schedule but every episode he will have a guest host on the show and talk to them about all of the stuff that they’re currently enjoying – comics, books, movies, TV etc and just have a nice chat.

That probably sounds like I’m doing more podcasts than before and committing myself to even more, but it’s actually less. We used to do CBO 3 weeks out of four every month and then moved it to a fortnightly schedule. I am always reading something, so The Book Club just makes me read certain books to a deadline, and 6-8 weeks is not tough. I’m not going to be on Bags of Action every episode, so that’s an every now and then thing, maybe every other month or one in three. And while Head Space is monthly, it might drift and become less often, but I’m not worried as I want to enjoy all of the podcasts I’m involved with and not punish myself if it runs late.

One of the questions we received towards the end of the live podcast last night was, am I still excited about comics? In all honesty, I am more excited now than I was five years ago. There are more independent comics now than five years ago and more importantly, many of them are receiving more widespread attention. Of course it’s still a struggle to get noticed in this crowded market, but some great independent comics are now enjoying remarkable sales and widespread attention because of adaptations on TV, animation and even films. Even a rumour of a TV or movie adaptation can cause a massive spike in sales as some properties are bought and then sit in development hell for years. But that’s fine, as long as it helps the creators, increases sales and gets the name of the comic out there into the wider market. So CBO is done, but I’m still very passionate about comics and am now creating some of my own. I hope to have some news about those projects next year but we’ll see how things go.

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The end of CBO…well, sort of.

Five years ago this July I started podcasting with a friend. This is back in 2007 when there weren’t that many podcasts. That sounds like a crazy thing to say, but ten years ago there weren’t any smart phones either, not really. The first one might have just come out, but it was nothing like the powerful machines we all carry around in our pockets these days. Machines with more memory than a hundred or even a thousand of my first PCs. But I digress. The point was, when I started doing podcasting on a regular basis, it was at a time when I had a sign on my table at a comics convention that read, ask me about podcasts. Almost every hour during that weekend one or two people came up and asked me ‘So what is a podcast?’

We weren’t one of the first, not by a long shot, but we were fairly unique at the time in that we only focused on comics outside the mainstream publishers of Marvel and DC. By that time the majority of the comics I was reading came from other publishers and other podcasts had coverage of the Big2 all sewn up. It seemed like a good fit. I was a life long comic book reader and I wanted to talk about some great comics people might not be aware of. My co-host was someone recently returned to comics and he was looking for some original material.

Five years on and we’re bringing the podcast to a close. During that time the show evolved in a number of different ways with new segments and we expanded our remit into covering hidden gems from the world of independent comics, movies, films and television. We also added a book club and I’m very proud of it and grateful to our listeners for taking part and getting involved. I’m also very pleased that we started it because it forced me to read some books I would probably never have picked up otherwise, it filled in some gaps in my classic SF and genre reading, and it introduced me and the listeners to some fantastic authors. Over the years we were lucky enough to get some great authors to take part in the podcast and interview them about their work including Arthur C. Clarke Award winners such as China Mieville (The City & The City) and Lauren Beukes (Zoo City).

We’ve also interviewed a number of independent filmmakers, and people I struggle to classify even now, but ultimately they were all extremely creative individuals trying something new, such as Jason Neulander, the creator of The Intergalactic Nemesis, a live stage show with a graphic novel projected behind the actors. He and the show were recently on Conan doing a mini performance with Conan taking part. Since 2007 we have also spoken to a number of comic book writers and artists, people I greatly admire and respect and whose work I still eagerly follow.

At times life or other commitments got in the way and the frequency of the podcast changed, or sometimes one of us wasn’t available and guest hosts stepped into the breach bringing fresh eyes, but we kept going. We always said we make the podcast because we enjoy talking about comics and so on, and best of all I like introducing people to new material they might not have heard about because it’s not local, or their comic shop doesn’t stock it, or they just weren’t aware that it even existed.

I had attended several comic book conventions before we started the podcast, but thereafter I was occasionally on a panel talking about podcasting and other forms of new media and where podcasting sits in the new wave of social media that has become increasingly important in the last eight years or so. It was very interesting to be on the other side of the table and to be sat facing a crowd of people. I actually dislike public speaking and don’t like being the centre of attention, but thankfully I wasn’t on the panels by myself and through the podcast community and the conventions I made a lot of new friends.

It’s also worth mentioning that what started out as a hobby, something that I did for fun, became something that I was able to use in my day job. Over those five years our skills at recording, editing, producing and even speaking on a chosen subject improved dramatically. We didn’t rehearse but we learned the rhythms of the other and we stopped saying um, and er, all the time. It also meant that the amount of time we spent editing was greatly reduced. A couple of jobs back, in the wake of the rise of social media and the growing importance it plays in business, the company I was working for at the time wanted to start an internal podcast for their staff who are spread out across the globe. A few weeks later I was training other people and passing on some of my podcast skills. A very weird but quire rewarding twist indeed.

I still enjoy doing the podcast but after five years I think we’ve sort of run our natural course. There are now thousands, if not tens of thousands, of podcasts, and many of them cover some or all of the same material as us. Some specialise in segments we touched on occasionally and others are equally as broad in their remit, so there is a lot more choice nowadays compared to when we started. I have a list of almost two dozen podcasts I regularly listen to during my daily commutes and, regardless of the subject, all of them are producing by passionate fans.

So, what happens next? Well, Comic Book Outsiders in its current form will cease to exist at some point in July. Thereafter the book club is going to continue so I will still be speaking to my co-host Scott on a regular basis and I’m starting a new (probably monthly) podcast. This will be something equally personal and something else I’m very passionate about. I say probably monthly because a lot of work goes into producing a podcast and I am trying very hard to focus on my writing and not commit myself to any new projects. The time spent on the new podcast should actually be less than CBO. Well, that’s theory anyway. I also think this new podcast will help me. Hopefully it will fuel my writing, give me something to think about and drive me (and hopefully other writers) forward. More info will be announced closer to the end of CBO. Also Scott is going to be doing a new podcast too and again there will be more info towards the end of CBO. So it is an ending, it’s just not the end.

We started out with good intentions – introducing people to comics (and later movies, books, TV and films) outside the spotlight, and overall I think we succeeded.

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Geek News Radio

Last year I came up with a cunning plan. Well, it seemed like a cunning plan a the time. I’ve been podcasting for four and a half years and since I started the number of podcasts has doubled and then probably tripled again. On the one hand it’s great, as there is a lot of free and interesting content out there to prevent me from going mad whilst driving two hours every day to and from work. On the other hand it can be very difficult to find good shows and quite often you have to wade through lots of dull shows to find the good ones. So how do you find good shows? The answer is often with great difficulty. I wanted to create a place where people could listen to a range of good podcasts across a wide range of subjects connected to geek culture.

I should say I know there are people out there with longer commutes than me, and people who have to work in tedious jobs where mercifully they can listen to music during the day to stop them going insane, so I’m not hosting a pity party for myself about my two hours of driving every day.

So my plan was to bring together a group of podcasts and form the equivalent of a radio station, but one completely devoted to geek news and reviews. The only thing I wanted to do was make sure all of the shows brought something different to the table, so it didn’t end up being twelve podcasts about TV, or Marvel comics. There is always going to be some overlap, and that’s fine, but I wanted there to be a range of shows covering a broad spectrum of material from independent comics, to movies, to TV, to mainstream comics, to SFF publishing, to dark fiction, to geek discussions, to computer and videos games.

Last night we launched Geek News Radio with a series of live podcasts. It ran from 4pm (UK time) to 11pm and several of the 12 podcasts that initially form GNR took part in the live event. Overall it was a huge success, everyone who did a live podcast got a real buzz from broadcasting live and getting instant feedback from listeners. It had been incredibly difficult to organise and pin people down to a specific date and then a time slot, but in the end I think it was worth it.

In the future I am sure we will add more podcasts to GNR, but there again I want to add shows with their own edge, so that if someone were crazy enough to listen to all of the latest episodes from all podcasts on the network back to back, they would not have 12 hours of different people digesting and discussing the same material.

So, what next? Well, GNR is up and running, it’s being broadcast 24x7x365 on Stitcher. The website for the lastest episodes from everyone is all set up here and it lists all twelve of the podcasts that initially make up GNR. I think we’ll do some more live podcasts in the future, definitely individually and perhaps as a group at a later date, perhaps when we add some new podcasts to GNR.

On that last point, if anyone out there reading this has their own podcast and they would like to see it added to GNR, then get in touch. The only rules are that the podcast has to be something that is produced fairly regularly and consistently, and the show should not focus on a topic already covered by one or more of the current line up.

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Bits and pieces

Bit of a general round up post of some recent stuff I’ve been involved with. As part of the podcast we do a SFF book club and looking back we’ve been going now for two years. We’ve covered a whole bunch of different books, both classic works of fiction including The Handmaid’s Tale, Fahrenheit 451, Slaughterhouse 5, Stranger in a Strange Land, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I Am Legend, The Caves of Steel and we’ve looked at some modern SFF including Empire in Black and Gold, The City and The City, Zoo City, American Gods, Masked, The Winter King, Horns, and The Dresden Files. We’ve been lucky enough to speak to some of the authors of these great books and have interviewed China Mieville, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Lou Anders and Lauren Beukes.

Our most recent selection is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card which is under the popular spotlight at the moment because a movie adaptation seems to be moving ahead. Our discussion proved to be really interesting as Scott and I came down on different sides with the novel and the author attracts a fair amount of controversy because of his views. A quick internet search will tell you more about that. Our current book club selection is a debut novelist, Mazarkis Williams, and his first book The Emperor’s Knife is being published by Joe Fletcher books, someone who is very well known in the SFF publishing business. So, if you’ve got some time over the holidays or beyond that in the months ahead and want to listen to some discussion of SFF books, check out The Book Club blog where we post new episodes.

This week we’re also recording the last Comic Book Outsiders episode of 2011 and we will take a longer break over the holidays and be back in January. I’ll end up with about two weeks off work, but I’m going to be busy with family and then I’ve got to get my teeth into some writing projects that have been put to one side in recent weeks because work has kept me very busy, away from home, and made me very tired.

I’m not one for making new year’s resolutions but I am looking forward to next year with a renewed sense of hope. Some creative projects that have been slowly gestating are starting to bear some fruit and the increased momentum is getting me excited about writing in a way that I’ve not been for a while. I think next year is going to be an interesting and creatively rich and rewarding year. So while I’m not keen to wish away the rest of December, I am looking forward to seeing what happens next.

 

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Changing Media and new technology

For the last four and a half years or so I’ve co-hosted a comics and geek culture podcast called Comic Book Outsiders. We recorded our 127th episode the other night and we spoke to an independent comic book creator, artist and writer, called Terry Moore. He’s written some incredible comics including Strangers in Paradise, Echo and his most recent series is Rachel Rising. You can listen to it here. We talk about his comics and also what he thinks about digital comics and how it will help or hinder him. Recording this episode, talking to Terry about digital comics, but also the end of a favourite podcast of mine, Geek Syndicate, made me think about the rate of change and how fast we adapt and embrace new technology.

When we first started the podcast not that many people were doing comic book podcasts and the number of podcasts in general was small by comparison to the present. At comic book conventions we even had a sign on the table which read ‘Ask us about Podcasting’. Several people came up to the table each day to ask what a podcast was and how it worked. Now most people don’t need to be told what they are and there are thousands of podcasts across pretty much every subject under the sun. MP3 players, smart phones and lots of other devices now allow people to listen to podcasts at any time. The tools to analyse where our listeners come from have grown more complex and they show a remarkable breadth of people from all over the world. In a previous job I was asked to pass on my knowledge of podcasting – editing audio and distributing it – to the business to help them with their social media strategy. I trained and taught other people, something I learned as a hobby, so that they could deploy it in a professional capacity. And all of this has happened in less than five years.

Podcasting is yet another form of entertainment which allows the user/listener to choose what to consume, where and when in their own time. TV has adapted to become similar service with various recording devices, but it didn’t start out life in that fashion. We were all locked in to schedules but not any more.

All of this made me think again about the future and the reality of where we might be in another five, ten, fifty or a hundred years with technology and specifically comics. There was a recent article in the Financial Times of all places about comics and digital comics. Someone was quoted as saying that in a year’s time we will be looking at paper comics in the same way as the music industry views vinyl. I believe this person is wrong for several reasons, a few of which I wanted to explore by looking at what might actually happen and what it would take to get to that place on the horizon.

Paper comics will be around for quite a long time in one shape or another and the collected editions – trade paperbacks, hardback, ultimate editions, absolute editions, omnibuses etc – are not going to disappear. Comparing paper comics to vinyl and music is apples and oranges, it’s just not the same.

Let’s pretend that monthly paper comics vanished and went completely digital, what would it take to get there? Reading comics on an electric reader, tablet or other, is only feasible when the screen is almost as big as the original page. You can read comics on your smart phone, but it’s awful. I’ve tried and I hated every second of it for several reasons. It’s a much more controlled experience for one as the software takes you around the page, guiding you from panel to panel or you have to zoom in and out, and it’s just hideous. There’s no flow, no movement, no time to think about what happens between the panels that you don’t see but is implied. A page isn’t a page anymore. It’s just a collection of cells like stills in a film. Turning it into a motion comic is just a horrible halfway house because it’s neither an animation or a comic book but a weird amalgam of the two that is always disappointing. Also the art was never designed to viewed on such a tiny screen and squashing it down like that doesn’t do the art or artist any justice. Don’t even get me started on single splash or double splash pages.

So ignoring smart phones, the current alternative is to view comics on a tablet. All of those that currently exist which are decent, and by that I mean those with a good sized screen, good resolution so it doesn’t look pixalated, are all fairly expensive. MP3 players are now dirt cheap and they come in a hundred colours, brands, shapes and sizes. I’m old enough to remember how expensive Walkman’s were and personal CD players back in the day, and eventually they too become cheap and cheerful. The best tablet I’ve seen for reading comics is still very expensive. The device is not specfically designed for comics and so it comes with a lot more toys out of the box which are pointless for me and I have access to all of the features in other places. So it’s a lot of something I’ll never use.

If there was a stripped down version (a Kindle or Nook equivalent for comics) with almost no other functionality apart from being able to read comics, and with a price point to match, I would buy one tomorrow and say goodbye to monthly paper comics. However, that isn’t a reality, not yet anyway, as not all comics are available digitally. We are inching towards that place, but even the big move by Marvel and DC to go day and date is just a stepping stone. No one will actually say what percentage digital sales makes up of their monthly figures but I would estimate it’s less than 20%. Also there is no Amazon equivalent for digital comic book distributors and although Comixology is perhaps the most popular, the scale compared to Amazon is very small.

So, until every publisher (indy, small press and mainstream) has day and date for all of their monthly comics, and until the balance between digital sales and paper is more even, or it leans more heavily towards digital, and until there is a device that is very easy to get your hands on that is cheap and specifically bent towards comics, or it has inbuild tech that was added with comics in mind, paper comics are not going anywhere

I estimate paper comics will be around for at least another 20 years and that is probably being conservative. As a point of interest the first Walkman was developed in 1979. The first portable CD player in 1984, but I would argue it took another six years or more before they were readily available and enough me-too versions existed that the price came down across the board. The first portable MP3 player was on sale in 1997 and it was 2001 when Apple release their first iPod. The two largest comic book publishers, Marvel and DC, have just gone day and date with all of their titles, so this is really just the start of the journey and it’s going to take years before all of those requirements are met. Then there’s the fans themselves, the retailers, the conventions and getting sketches and signatures and a whole host of other elements.

I really believe a physical comic will always exist in some form , even if, to go back to the beginning, it exists like vinyl today, which is a collectors item for older music, and certain bands release special limited editions of their new albums on vinyl, such as Radiohead.

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