Issue 1 WRAP!
And since Cally has quit her Spy-gig, I think it’s time to announce that this is the end of Spy6teen! Thanks for coming out everyone, don’t forget to validate your parking on your way out!
…yeah, I didn’t fool anyone there, did I?
Well, hopefully you thought this made for a great cliffhanger ending! The best part: No waiting a full 30 days (or more) before you get to see how it pans out! We’ll be back as of next Monday to start up Issue 2!
22 pages is pretty young in the life of a webcomic, but an issue 1 close represents a great moment to reflect on how far we’ve come.
Heading out into the wilderness of the internet, without the benefit of a “hub” like Zuda, was a journey into the unknown for us– We didn’t know if we’d get lost a the sea of www’s, or worse: met with the deafening roar of crickets chirping.
But ultimately, the whole team really believes in this comic and how we work together– so with a little moxy and website gaff tape, we launched into our grand experiment 22 weeks ago…
Our goal was (and remains) fairly modest: We just wanted an audience to read our comic. I think that’s a pretty uniform goal of any indie comic team: “We think this is really cool, and we’d love to share it with you…ultimately, we hope you think it’s cool too!”
And now, one issue in, I think I can safely say we’re coming along:
Since our launch, an estimated 15,000 people have stopped by to read Spy6teen– which charts, since our pageviews are over 100k– I do say estimated, because there’s some wonkiness i/r/t Google Analytics– but still, even on the low end, I can’t believe that there are that many of you guys out there!
Looking at that number, it honestly reaffirms my belief that going on the web was the correct decision– Considering the costs and distribution reach of a indie print comic (had we gone that route) hovers around 5k for a successful title (by that, I mean one NOT named “The Walking Dead”,) we’ve pretty much tripled that number.
That said, I am (and have) stopped referencing indie print titles as a bar– because web and print truly are two different beasts. Although, I will maintain that, if you’re an indie creator, this is the time to jump in the pool!
To our team, I’d personally like to take a second to thank them for the tireless hours they put in to bring you a high quality awesome comic page, week after week. DJ, Lisa, Brant, and DJ, have been utter rock-stars; producing (humbly) a great looking comic page every Monday.
None of this is even remotely possible without them– and these guys work through hectic schedules, weekends, and Green-Orangutan flu, and they’ve never missed a beat. Pro-Status– all of them.
(…and honestly, without a comic here– would you really want to listen to me prattle on about whatever it is that I talk about?)
And to you guys, our readers– all of this is for you, and we can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read a comic that we pour our little nerd hearts into– Your readership means everything to us, and honestly, every comment you leave is like a little beam of sunshine to us– a little gamma-infused ray of sun, that gives us the superpower of making comics.
One of the most awesome things I didn’t realize as we set off is that we’d meet and find the friends we did along the way– All of you guys in the comments section, the gangs from Reddit, Top Web Comics, Making Graphic Novels, The Webcomic List Forums, Digital Webbing, Comic Related, and Geekweek– plus, the countless other webcomics who have been awesome enough to link to us– You guys have taught us this isn’t a lonely endeavor– it’s rich with likeminded and amazingly talented people– folks who are willing to take the time to read, critique, and praise creative works– Share tips and information, exchange war-stories, and just generally be awesome people.
I couldn’t be happier to count you as readers, and more importantly (even though more than half of us have never met in person,) friends.
Ok, so…are we still hugging? Because this is getting awkward…
So what’s in store for the future of Spy6teen?
Sunglasses!! Because things are looking pretty bright!
Although we aren’t “officially” announced, I guess I can leak the news that in a few weeks our first issue will be available on Graphic.Ly– One of the premiere Digital Comic Distribution platforms! I’ll have more info, along with a writeup, as we approach our release date– I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about as we strike out into this bold new world of distribution!
For those of you who aren’t keen and savvy to read comics on I-Devices, we’ll be making our first issue available in print as well! Still working out the final details and whatnot– but, the good news is, we’re finally moving into our little “store” section!!
Stay tuned: The next few weeks are going to be quite awesome!
As I mentioned above, issue 2 kicks off next Monday! I’m really excited to start this part up— even though Cally has “quit,” there’s still a ton of pulse-pounding action coming up!
Lastly, I guess this is a good place to announce our “Holiday Schedule.”
I did a little thinking and research about this, and it seems to me that it won’t kill us to take some time off over the holiday season…y’know, to spend time with loved ones and family, basking in the warmth of chestnuts roasting on an open fire…
The prevailing thought on webcomics is: The minute you miss an update, they’ll leave you!! They’ve leave you and never come back!! But, honestly, I don’t think that’s the case– and I don’t think you guys are that callous…are you?
I figure this will give our creative team a little time to catch their breath and actually enjoy the holidays– So, officially: We’ll be on “Winter Hiatus” for December 27th and January 3rd.
Sure, we could hit those days– but again, I think a lot of you will be busy over these two weeks– and more importantly, I really want to make sure the team gets a chance to kick back and enjoy their festivities.
OK! So, that’s a wrap on Issue 1– As a quick note, I’ll pop on sometime this week (perhaps Friday or Saturday) to post up our “working cover” for issue 2, in leiu of a blog entry– which would have been due to update on Thanksgiving Day– but something tells me we’d have a dry bird if I attempted to juggle a blog update and Turkey duty.
Hope everyone has a great Turkey Day! And we’ll see ya next week for the start of ISSUE 2!!!
Page 21, our penultimate page!
I’ll save waxing poetic about the close of our first issue for next week’s “grand finale!” page– Not that it’ll be a tearful farewell, since we’re only two weeks off from starting issue 2!
That said– let’s dive into Page 21:
Hopefully you caught this week’s blog entry on the process of Page 16. We got some good feedback on that piece, so I’ll be sure to do more Process pieces. That said, we won’t go into quite that level of detail here, but I did want to share some behind the scenes stuff–
Probably the most minor change to this page is Kevin’s “Hey Cally” in Panel 1. This was originally slated for the last panel of page 20– as an OFFSCREEN callout. But as we looked over Page 20, it seemed that the added callout (particularly one from an offscreen character) felt jumbled. Given that panel 4 of page 20 was a transition panel, we all thought it was confuse readers to add in an additional “voice”–
And not to dimish Kevin, but ultimately: it’s just Kevin…I mean, if it were a giant Robot crashing into the school to attack Cally– maybe an offscreen “TERMINATE!” would be worth it– but, a “Hey Cally!”– not so much.
Editorially, DJ Kirkbride and I talked about flopping panels 3 and 4 as well– so that the phone POV shot would come directly after the “bing!”– It wasn’t scripted that way, but in my typical “I’m overthinking everything” fashion, I thought it might read better. DJ disagreed, feeling that cutting to Blake between the phone sound and the actual message illustrated how the different elements of Cally’s life were starting to bleed together– creating a pressure cooker, where she can only react– not think.
And, whattya know– he’s right. Honestly, one of the best reasons to work with an editor is so you have someone that can talk you OUT of second guessing yourself.
Page 20 is also another great DJ Keawekane page. I’m a big fan of the “acting” on this page: how Cally’s face lights up in panel 2– contrasted with Blake’s ::sadface:: in panel 3…and Blake’s pose as he throws a fishing line out to the “cool guys”.
This is probably a good place to talk about Jelly’s– as Kevin mentions it in Panel 1. It’s basically a shout-out to one of the world’s greatest comic books shops, and one that has a long history in Hawaii.
If you lived in Hawaii though the 90s, Jelly’s was basically your geek-mecca. Not only did it stock all of the latest comic books, but it had an impressive back-issue library, a full music and books section, as well as baseball cards, pogs (as pogs were the rage at the time) and table-top gaming area.
Jelly’s was one of those places that felt less like a store and more like a community.
Punisher Hawaii Tour, Jelly’s– 1988. That’s Mike Baron, Carl Potts, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Whilce Portacio. (Photo: Carl Potts)
When DJ and I first met, Jelly’s was what we bonded over– talking about the old 404 Piikoi Warehouse/store, and our memories of the cool things we got there. Honestly, it’s hard to explain how a store could mean as much as it does to us; you sort of have to have lived in the middle of nowhere and been lucky enough to have a tastemaker store with an incredible staff of awesome people, to really get it.
Jelly’s went through a pretty rough time in the 2000s, but my understanding is that there’s still a location out in Aiea, Hawaii– I haven’t been there, so I can’t speak to it, but if you do ever find yourself in Hawaii, you should go check it out. If you’re a LOST fan, you’ve apparently already seen the store!
(From the LOST episode: Everyone Hates Hugo)
For Spy6teen, I knew I wanted a “hangout” spot– It’s a bit of a trope with High School stories: Think Saved by the Bell’s “The Max,” or even Buffy’s “The Bronze”– When it came time to name our hangout for Cally and the gang, it was pretty much a no-brainer to me.
You’ll be seeing our Jelly’s down the road, but now you know it’s secret history!
Well, we’ve integrated Facebook and Twitter logins to our comment section! Yup, you can now directly sign in to drop us a line with either account, if you’d like.
If you haven’t already, please consider joining us on our Facebook group– I’ve actually been brainstorming some ideas up into making it worth your while!
As we close up shop on issue 1, I’ll be doing a few updates to the site– including a direct link to Issue 1, so you can read it in one sitting!
We’re holding the line at the 140-ish mark on Top Web Comics! Keep those votes coming! Halfway though the month, and I think we’ve got a real shot at closing this month out in the 130s!
Remember, you can vote everyday, just by clicking below:
So that’s page 21! Next week is our big conclusion for Issue 1! Did someone say contest and prize? No, I they didn’t…but I DID!
We’ll see you back here on Thursday for another exciting Blog@16! Same Spy time, Same Spy channel!
Page 19! Seriously?! Wow, time really does fly when you’re having fun!
Well, welcome to November, gang! This is the month that we’ll close the book on Issue one! By next month we’ll be scratching the surface of issue 2– and let me tell ya, I’m excited to get there! The stuff we’ve got coming up is gonna knock your socks off!
Let’s dig in with some production notes on Page 19:
Coming off the heels of Alyssa’s confrontation on page 18, we’re giving Cally a “moment of reflection,” which is a writer-ly term for “talking out loud about the story” -note: not a real defination.
MoRs are often overlooked when you’re dealing with compressed storytelling formats like comic books, but they’re extremely important in terms of accenting character and heightening the stakes/drama of upcoming scenes. In a lot of ways, MoRs serve to build the framework for how characters will react in future situations.
Often, the MoR is really about the character re-iterating what the audience already knows– they just put their spin or viewpoint on it. The important part of the MoR is that the character should always come away with it realizing something.
In this case, it’s a bit of a soft-point: The reveal that Sears is a Co-Villain– something that I’m sure most of you put together, but I did feel the need to punctuate it for the casual reader.
As we’re wrapping up issue one, future readers will likely read this issue in one sitting; obviously you can’t control the pace at which they do so– some of them will race through it, while others will take their time. The punctuation is really to catch the casual reader…Since this is information that a lot of readers are probably aware of, or picked up on, we decided to turn the moment into a bit of a gag, which I think DJ pulled off very nicely.
Speaking of DJ, here’s something I hadn’t noticed until we started up the lettering revision for this page: Originally, the script called out for 5 panels, but he broke it up into 6– Now, this is fairly commonplace in comics, and I wholeheartedly defend any artist who chooses to forgo the script and add or remove panels. Visual pacing is their ballcourt, and you should always trust your artist’s instincts. It’s not that they’re ignoring the script, they just see a better way of communicating the idea.
Note: Yes, there are limits– I have heard horror stories of artists inserting fight scenes where there were none scripted– but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Honestly: yes, that happened to a friend of mine.
In the original script, panels 3 and 4 were called out to be one shot– but DJ decided to break it up into two smaller panels, which allowed creates a bit more dramatic movement– particularly in the sense that this is a page where Cally is doing a lot of “talking to herself in a classroom”– you want to make sure that it’s still visually interesting.
This is a pretty “talky” page, so Brant had his work cut out for him– It was a bit tough since I really wanted to get Mr. Everett’s Schrödinger’s Cat lecture in, and he had to deal with a lot of Cally’s CAP boxes– basically across three panels. But, being the champ he is, Brant managed to get it all in there AND maintain an eye-friendly reading layout.
If you’re a keen-eyed reader (or a physics professor,) you might notice that Mr. Everett is actually writing the equation for the Uncertainty Principal on the blackboard. Very nice touch on Brant’s part! (I also think he’s just stoked to letter something that ISN’T a banner for the Montauk High Dance!)
I still need to do that Lineart to Colors example to really showcase the depth that Lisa’s colors bring. Actually, if anyone knows a good (and easy) program for creating animated .gifs, please let me know. I’m really in love with what she did for Panels 3 and 4– the shadow-line that she creates for Cally’s face is perfect.
Like we talked about on page 16, Lisa’s colors bring a “depth with lighting” effect to the page. Here, there’s a subtle shading on Cally’s face from Panels 3 to 4– where, as we move into her closeup, the lighting changes– causing an overall effect that she ever so slightly shifted between panels– and really, that’s the magic of comics: the illusion of what happens between panels.
You’ll see a lot more of this in the pages that close out Issue 1!
“RSS!! I LIKE IT!”
I do have a quick experiment I’d like to try out this week for those of your who read us on Google’s RSS reader (of which, I am one as well!)
For those unfamiliar with RSS, it’s a really, really, really, simple syndication feed (in fact, that’s what it stand for: Really Simple Syndication!) that you can use to keep track of many of the sites you visit.
Undoubtedly, you’ve seen that little orange symbol under our “Follow” sidebar on a lot of websites. That’s the RSS feed– The easiest way of accessing RSS feeds are if you’re a Google user– just click on it and choose to read it in Google Reader. You can do this for a lot of the sites you visit daily– basically, it’s like an inbox for your sites. Everytime they update: You’ll see them in your Reader.
Honestly, I can’t recommend it enough– It really does change the way you go about your internet day. It took me years before I finally decided to start using RSS feeds, and as soon as I did, I kicked myself for not using them sooner.
So, here’s a quick “ask” for those of you who do happen to follow via Google Reader: Could you do me a favor and click the “like” button under this entry– I’m curious to see if that does anything in terms of increasing traffic…I’ll report my “like” findings in Thursday’s blog!
So, November finds us with a reset Top Web Comics List– amazingly, we’re currently at 130! But– I know that won’t last past today or tomorrow– unleeeesssss, we get your votes!
We’ve kicked off to a pretty great lead, and here’s hoping that we can maintain it! Remember, our goalpost for the month is 140! You can help us get there by clicking below! Remember, you can do it once a day!
PLUGS AND THANKS!
First off, a big thank you to one of our readers, Nitz the Bloody, who held his 2nd annual Halloween Cosplay image– featuring the characters of his comic, Ruby’s World, dressed up as other characters! This year, we’re honored that Cally made it as one of said costumes! Thanks so much, Nitz! We loved it!
Also, I wanted to throw a quick shoutout/plug to our friend “Bald” Steve Earnhart, whose long running comic: Hard-Bullied, is now available for you to read on the Graphic.ly web interface!
I’ve got a big blog entry coming up about Graphic.Ly and digital comic readers, but for now, I’d urge you to download the Graphic.Ly platform and check it out. There’s a ton a free comics to read on there, so you can get a handle and your digital likes and dislikes.
The web reader (where you can check out Hard-Bullied) is coming along– but the Graphic.Ly app is where things really shine. Check out both and let us know what you think!
Seeya back Thursday for the blog!