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18 posts from November 2005

November 30, 2005

Doodlers in editorial positions: good news or bad?

Should cartooning types be allowed to run their own graphic novel imprints?


Fortunately, I'm not alone: for a number of years, there's been Chris Oliveros running his stellar DRAWN & QUARTERLY, and now overseas, there are two new graphic novel imprints, one called SHAMPOOING, within Delcourt Publishing, and one called BAYOU, within the prestigious Gallimard house... And their editorial directors? Respectively: Lewis Trondheim, and Joann Sfar.

D&Q continually offers must-read authors and literary graphic novels, and these two new ventures are off to exciting starts. And it sounds like BAYOU is very close to FIRST SECOND in its editorial vision.

Hey, I'm in illustrious company!


November 28, 2005

Mister Rockwell


November 23, 2005

P.S. Yet more from the gaming world


Well, they keep coming... Here's a note from Don Daglow, of the impressive STORMFRONT STUDIOS. He confirms some of the problems and possibilities for art in a commercial world.

"As video games have grown bigger and budgets have spiraled, we sometimes get preoccupied with the business issues and lose sight of the creative passion that brought all of us into this profession. Spending the day with the writers, artists and gamers at the conference gave me a very personal reminder of the importance of that creative passion in everything we do.

Media where one person can create a work of art -- like graphic novels and traditional fiction -- make the link between artistic commitment and the reader's experience very visible. On game development teams that may have over a hundred members, we need to keep looking for ways to bring that individual vision and commitment to the player's experience so we create collaborative works of interactive art, not factory-assembled machines.

I came away from the conference excited about what we can do to keep these creative fires burning, and filled with respect for the writers and artists we met during the event."


Don L. Daglow
President and CEO
Stormfront Studios Inc.Lotr_image24

Some last bits on the VISUAL STORYTELLING conference


A few last thoughts for now. First these just arrived from author ERIC NYLUND, who has written a number of science-fiction novels, including some in the HALO universe. HALO is one of the most popular XBOX games of all time.

"I came away with new hope for storytelling in the 21st century. Traditional publishers will still be here, I'm sure, but they can't move as fast as the newer industries (video games and graphic novels) that are not (yet) as restrained by an antiqued business model.

As far as the round table, I wished it was longer: it could have been three separate panels: traditional linear storytelling in games, MMOs (massive multiplayer online games), and experimental storytelling in games). Maybe next time.

Just as impressive as the conference and round table discussion--was the Academy Of Art. After touring their game design labs, I asked all the hard-to answer questions(tm), and the director had all the right answers(tm) (they are using the Unreal engine to design in...they are launching a semester-long class with a twenty student team to construct a working game...and so on). All extraordinarily impressive. They've taken the best people from the gaming industry and plugged them directly into teaching the next generation of game makers--hopefully so they can circumvent all the mistakes the last generation made, and concentrate on making outrageously terrific games.


I told the director I wished I was twenty years younger so I could enroll.

--All best

Eric Nylund

Quick pencil sketch above is of Eric speaking at the conference. If I remember right he was saying something that made him quite unpopular: that for your typical videogame, the three most important things are 1) Gaming/action, 2) Visuals and a very distant 3) Storyline/character; but if a videogame aims to be a successful franchise, a series that gamers will keep returning to for years, then it's number 1) story & memorable characters, then 2) gaming, then 3) visuals. Thought that was interesting.

For books, I'd say Story and character tend to be the very purpose. Everything serves Story. In a lot of games I get the sense Story serves everything else. Reminds me of that cover for the NEW YORKER art spiegelman did a few years ago, called "The Eleventh Muse" (?) Can't find it online. Can't find any of his covers at the New Yorker website. Hm.

Well, here ends this little report on the visual storytelling summit. Didn't think I'd make so much of it, but it does strike me as significant about our day and age. There's lots that went unreported here. Like when the videogame people turned onto the subject of new technologies on the horizon. Their eyes lit up (be afraid?), when they started talking about A.I. / Artificial Intelligence as the next great leap for the gaming experience.

What if an A.I. is cut loose to decide and react within a gameworld? What if they have their own tastes? Author Greg Bear summed up by painting a picture of a virtual party to which you go, and discover everyone else in the room is an A.I. or synthetic human . . . and none of them want to talk to you.

November 22, 2005



More from the panelists, about what they took away from the conference between Graphic Novels and Video Games (both of which we all agreed, are misnomers). This time, from John Hight of Sony Playstation...



...And point A) may be born out by this Saturday late-night sketch by JESSICA ABEL:


But in all fairness to John Hight, he had a lot more to say. One bit caught me in particular when he wrote:

"Games and graphic novels can take about 2 years to make. Graphic novels are [often] the work of a single author/artist. Games used to be designed by a single person, now they are big budget, big team productions. This makes it hard for games to have a voice and consistent quality.

A graphic novel that sells 15,000 units is successful. A game that sells 200,000 units is a flop.

One possible future for games is to distribute episodic, story-driven content on-line. This might be a way for graphic novelists to reach more people too."

And right there is something I took away from the whole discussion. I learned that when Derek Kirk Kim serialized his gem SAME DIFFERENCE online, when the last episode posted, he got a million hits.


SERIALIZATION has had a long love affair with comics already, from the very beginning. In the 70's and 80's in France, the print magazine (A SUIVRE), the name of which translates to (TO BE CONTINUED) was a phenomenally fertile farmland for many of the greatest European graphic-novel talent. As comics magazines went belly-up one after another, they folded too. But today, with new avenues to release comics episodes -- not just online, like the talented bunch on Serializer, but also on other venues, from podcasts to cellphones, to game stations -- perhaps something needs to happen again, anew.

To serialize or not to serialize?

Comments and views are most welcome. Especially from readers.

November 21, 2005

Revised strip

After Robert's comment on my two panel strip, here it is revised because he's absolutely right.

Thanks, Robert!


(click to enlarge)



One of the problems facing the videogame world is similar to the one faced by Hollywood studios: creative risk taking and real R&D gets left behind when so much money is at stake. The graphic novel on the other hand, is exploding with personal vision and creative exploration.

I asked some of the panelists to tell me what they took away from this conference. Marc Weidenbaum, from VIZ's SHONEN JUMP reported back:

"I could comment that it was interesting to sit at dinner between one person explaining the surprising difficulty in reducing from 20,000 square feet to 17,000 the size of the home she's building, and someone else discussing how instant ramen had helped extend the life of a book advance. But why go there?

Instead, I'd reiterate something on which I hadn't really focused until we sat up on that stage, which is how exciting it is to be working in comics at a moment when the graphic novel, rather than the 20-page pamphlet or mini-comic, or a collection thereof, defines the size of the terrarium in which creators' imaginations are taking root."

And from noted science fiction author Syne Mitchell

"For me, what was most interesting is that no matter the technology, how whifty the art or graphics, what attracts and holds an audience's attention is a compelling story. Since the dawn of time, story is how humans encode and pass on information; this is as true today as when early man sat around a camp fire."


November 18, 2005


And for your pleasure, a few moments from this conference from the sketchbook of Matt Madden...







VISUAL STORYTELLING was the title of this summit at the San-Francisco Academy of Art. Two panels were held, one with some of us from the graphic novel world, and one with major players of the videogame world, for a roundtable discussion and meeting between these two rapidly growing media.

THE GRAPHIC NOVEL PANEL was made up of literary agent Bob Mecoy, Jessica Abel, Matt Madden, Derek Kirk Kim (all of whom have excellent projects forthcoming with FIRST SECOND), Marc Weidenbaum, Editor from VIZ for their magazine SHONEN JUMP , and Anjali Singh, Senior Editor from Pantheon Books.

We were faced off with another panel of major writers and developers from the videogame world; among them creators and contributors on everything from DEMONSTONE, to ODDWORLD , to HALF-LIFE2 and lots and lots more.


Among them were talented novelists and screenwriters such as Eric Nylund, Greg Bear, and Hal Barwood of Finite Arts -- whose contributions to film include choosing the location of Devil's Tower for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, and thereby one of my favorite movie sequences of all time, beginning with the mashed potatoes.


So what did we find out? Was it any use? Do game and comics creators have anything for one another?

Well, it was a fertile discussion, and some interesting things came of it. So I'd like to share some of these here, over the next few blog entries.

Graphic novels may be the fastest growing category in publishing, and games may be the fastest growing category in electronic media, but the comparison stops when we talk business and sales figures.



November 16, 2005

About Donkey & Mule . . .

About Donkey & Mule, the two corporate publishers: NO, THEY DO NOT WORK IN A HOLTZBRINCK COMPANY. And that's the truth. They're elsewhere, maybe in several different houses. Doodles & Dailies reserves the right to make strips of any reliable rumor from friends in the publishing business!

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