Heya Gang!!

Welcome back for page 10– Cally’s back FULLY in gear!
So that means you know some action is right around the corner! And…yeah, looks like poor Blake is gonna stumble right into it, doesn’t it?

We’re going to have a relatively short Process this week, as there’s a lot I want to talk about in the Spying/News section– If you’re a Process fan, don’t worry, the next two pages are gonna get a lot of love!

Finally, before we jump into everything, I just wanted to extend our birthday wishes to Flatter/Letterer/all-around production guru, Brant Fowler! Why, it seems like it was only 2 issues ago that it was Brant birthday…

If you have a second, please drop Brant your birthday wishes in the comments!

PROCESS

* There a ton going on in this page, to which I think DJ simplified the panel layout this week with a 5/widescreen setting, which is a wise choice considering a more complicated layout might have garbled the storytelling.

* That said, just because it’s a “standard” layout doesn’t mean DJ didn’t do some interesting stuff– Take a look at Panels 4 and 5, where he uses a “Dutch” angle to infuse a sense of movement and excitement into the panels–
The interesting thing to note here is how degrees of the two panels are relatively in synch with one another. Notice how Cally’s head is roughly at a “2 o’clock” tilt in Panel 4, matching Blake’s in Panel 5.

The reason you almost have to do it this way is because your mind is “anchoring” the tree that Cally is in– So, if DJ were to have dutched in the opposite direction for Panel 4, the composition would have felt “wrong” to us.

* Colors-wise: It’s great seeing Lisa laying down the Cally-Outfit Green…I hadn’t realized until now how much I missed seeing our gal in costume!

* It’s always fun to do a Lisa compare/contrast. This week I dug Panel 5 a lot:

Cool seeing how Lisa put a glow effect around the building lights. Also note how she put a light source in the direction Blake is looking, and reflected that in the highlights of the tree.

* Brant had another busy page– lots of Science-y talk this week! I was originally a little worried that I crammed too much in, but between Brant and Editor DJ Kirkbride, we got everything not only fitting, but reading properly!

*Brant also created the “techy” readout you see in Panel 2. Brant is slowly turning into our “Michael Okuda”– the legendary Star Trek/Next Gen designer.

*While we’re in the “Brant section”– let’s do a few plugs for him, hey– it’s his birthday! He’s got 3 new books on the horizon, so keep an eye out for the following:

The Confectionaries #1 by Ringtail Cafe (www.ringtailcafe.com) debuting at Lexington Comic Con in Lexington, KY on March 24th (www.lexingtoncomiccon.com)

Careful… TPB by Paper Street Comics (www.paperstreetcomics.com) debuting at C2E2 (www.c2e2.com) on April 13-15.

Binary #1 by Assailant Comics (http://assailantcomics.com/) debuting at SPACE (http://www.backporchcomics.com/space.htm) in Columbus, OH on April 21-22.

So, if you happen to have the chance, pick up one of these books, and tell ‘em Brant sent ya!!

 SPYING ON THE NET!

If you were following the news last weekend coming out of Wondercon, you might have thought it was WaidCon– Which, of course, would reflect Mr. Mark Waid, whom I’ve been talking about for…jeez, like 4 weeks now?

Well, that might have been part of Mark’s slow rollout for his big digital news– He’s partnering with John Rogers (of Leverage fame) rolling out a digital comic line of their own, AND pricing at 99 cents. (FINALLY!)

The interesting part is going to be seeing how much content we’ll get for 99 cents– from an LA Times article detailing his plans:

… Each weekly installment will be smaller than a full comic book — a decision inspired, in part, by serial newspaper comics like “Prince Valiant.”

“We said, ‘Let’s look at the old Sunday pages,’ not in any way in terms of tone or in terms of language, but really in a sense of how much of a chunk of story feels like a good, satisfying chunk of story,’” Waid said. “And what we found so far is about eight to 10 screens feels about right.”

Furthering that in a Bleeding Cool article:

Much research was done into how many screens per installment leave a reader feeling satisfied that each segment was worthwhile. Make it too long, the reader will get overwhelmed. Make it too short, they’ll feel like it wasn’t enough. Keeping a proper pace is necessary to ensure that your readers will come back every week. Waid looked at all sorts of comics to try and reverse engineer the ideal length, looking specifically at old newspaper adventure strips not for the physical formatting or tone but for pacing. Where you present a chunk of story and end on a question that makes the reader want to come back and find out the answer. Eight to ten screens feels about right, which ends up being half the time to read a regular comic per Waid’s calculations. Graphic.ly did a study which agreed with Waid’s research, that most readers prefer about 8 screens per viewing, making him believe he’s on the right track.

I find that pretty interesting– even our own metrics on Spy6teen correspond with that data– sure, we get a handful of folks who will rip through our entire archive to get caught up, but the usual “new reader” depth is usually somewhere around 5 to 7 pages. (Discounting the “Bouncers”, who land on one page and immediately take off.)

Reading on screens, someway or another, do pull us away from content– rather, I should say, we bounce a lot with content– after all, there’s email to check, the latest cute kitten video, or Facebook starts to beckon…So, shorter bursts of content do make sense to compete with the digital content sphere.

Much in the same way that the music industry is moving into more of a 3-minute pop song format (as it was in the 50s and 60s) because of the digital/web format– perhaps it’s time to start looking at the same for comics. I’ve recently started checking out some old Italian crime comics, which were formatted in 8 to 10 page installments, and I’ll tell you, a lot of them feel denser than our modern 22 page equivalents.

There’s a lot more going on with Mr. Waid’s plan– and I encourage you to check out those two articles linked above, plus head over to Markwaid.com for a free comic–

 

Mark is giving away his digital “Proof of Concept”– a comic called Luther, the video of which you might have seen a few weeks ago here. He’s giving away the .PDF version of it at his site– even if you don’t read it, please do download it, as he’s using the metrics of the downloads to encourage sponsors to assist his funding of this endeavor– and if you read those articles, you’ll see that he’s already sinking a significant amount of his own resources into this project.

Obviously, we here at Spy6teen, being lovers of the comics medium and very interested in the evolution of the medium (plus, Mark was the guy that used to sign Lisa’s paychecks)– fully support Mark’s new venture. I’ll keep an eye on the latest news and ping you guys when something cool happens!

 NEXT WEEK: A FAMILIAR FACE APPEARS ON THE SCENE!