Most of you probably know Dean Haspiel from his high-profile collaborations with Harvey Pekar and Jonathan Ames. But he’s also one of the leaders in the webcomix movement, with the ACT-I-VATE collective, Next-Door Neighbor for Smith, and work for the New York Times.
Haspiel took some time to answer my questions about comics for the Web, and I personally recommend his webcomix to anyone–they’re equal parts swagger and romance, sci-fi and mythology. Enjoy!
Blog@: Which webcomics do you write/draw/edit/have some affiliation with?
Dean Haspiel: I created, write and draw:
If that wasn’t enough, I created and edit:
NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR anthology [SMITH Magazine]
And, last Fall I was asked by the merry folks at Marvel to write and draw:
Blog@ Can you tell me about the differences with making comics for the web? Formatting, artistic choices, story length, panels per page, etc.
DH: There’s isn’t that much difference between preparing a comic for print and a comic for the Internet. In fact, all the webcomix I make are prepared with a print destination in mind. However, format and presentation between print and web is slightly different. For instance, I paced my two BILLY DOGMA stories, “Immortal,” and the sequel, “Fear, My Dear,” for the ACT-I-VATE website differently than I imagine the final print version to be. Those stories were presented online as one panel revelations per click. An assembly of panels made up weekly installments until the story was completed and seamless. A print version will most likely show four panels per page, changing the original reading experience, and the colors will be presented in the more limiting CMYK rather than RGB, which allows for a larger palette online.
STREET CODE and the NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR webcomix employ the 4:3 aspect ratio made popular by Zuda, Transmission-X, and some comix strip reprint collections like PEANUTS and DICK TRACY.
Blog@: How do you think the existence and growth of webcomics will change the print comics industry?
DH: As price tags for serialized pamphlets increase, sales will surely decrease and the rise of the webcomix format will start to serialize original franchise fare. The digital age coupled with rough economic times dictates this as such. There’s only so much impact a wallet can take. Marvel has already started to test the waters that some of us creators have been doing for years. The more popular webcomix will be collected into quality print editions. Ultimately, compelling and popular stories will reign online as crossover events become dinosaurs of the print pamphlet past.
Although, I can imagine content editors becoming savvy continuity cops to help engender stories within stories that become one click away, just like, for example, the old days when Stan Lee would make reference to other stories that occurred in Marvel’s vast tapestry. Dr. Doom could make reference to the last time he battled the Fantastic Four and you’re one click away from reading that story before returning to the present story line. Stuff like that is something we as fans can look forward to.
Blog@: What do you enjoy more about the web? About print?
DH: Print will always be my first love and the premier way to enjoy comix. However, the Internet allows for more formal and narrative experimentation and kills the watchmen who nay-say what gets into rotation. Sure, there are only so many fans of the form but more and more lurkers are getting tuned in and turned
on and more story makers are trying their hand sans editorial permission, and therein lie the digital diamonds in the cyber rough.
Blog@: Where do you see webcomics going? What’s the future, particularly when it comes to making a living as an artist?
DH: Webcomix will become a delivery norm as publishers and creators work to merchandise their comix and figure out proactive ways to encourage readers to help “produce” said comix via cost effective subscription models. Forward thinkers like Rantz Hoseley are near ready to launch Longbox ~ the iTunes for comix, while other, established creators take destiny into their own hands and design delivery systems that will curate the cream of the crop for pay.
Bottom line: DC has Zuda but they should also test the waters by making Frank Miller’s next BATMAN comic a webcomic for subscribers (with a print collection in mind). Paul Pope should post his next new thing online concurrent with print editions while the likes of ACT-I-VATE continue to move onward and upward.