My wife got a job!
I'm so proud of her -- it's hard enough for locals to find work in America these days, so you can imagine what a coup it is for a Korean to land a job here. Not just any job, mind you, but a good job! I'm reminded of how helpless I felt when I was looking for work in Korea - I couldn't have gotten a job as a dishwasher, let alone something resembling a career. I know I don't really have the right to be proud of Jiyoung, since I didn't raise her or anything. But whatever. I'm proud and a little awed. She's so freakin' smart! And brave. And employed! She's also cute.
This development is relevant to this blog in a more direct way, of course. I still need to make some money at some point, and the sooner the better. But there's a lot more runway ahead, and there isn't a brick wall at the end of it anymore. The idea of turning comics into a career just got more plausible.
Meanwhile, Project Waldo is getting pretty close -- the linework for the last pages is coming together and final coloring should be underway by the end of the month. I'm excited about moving on to the second issue and trying to apply some of the lessons I've learned during the bumpy creation of issue one. Still, Project Waldo has been saddled with a fairly cumbersome rule set -- with all the little fiddly bits, the whole thing moves forward so slowly that it sometimes feels like it's actually going backwards. It's not that I don't like working on it -- it's usually a lot of fun. But when my friends are cranking out six issues to my one, it's hard not to feel a little left behind.
To mix things up a bit, I've decided to start a second comic once this issue is finished -- something I can work on in the mornings before hunkering down for an afternoon of hardcore foliage-drawing. This probably sounds kind of insane, so let me explain. This one's going to be different:
- Stylistically simpler and lower-resolution, focusing on value and proportion instead of linework
- Rough enough to finish a page in a few hours
- Black and white
- A much higher panel count, with an emphasis on storytelling
- Digital primary distribution method, with print to follow
That last point is the big mystery right now, and I know it's the riddle everybody's trying to solve. "Digital distribution" can mean so many things these days -- ad-supported web comic? How about mobile devices? What about the iPad and Kindle? And then there's Longbox. Is there a format or aspect ratio that is most adaptable to a wide range of displays? Is it even a good idea to try for a flexible layout? What the heck am I even talking about?
Imagine you wanted to get as many eyeballs on your work as possible, and you weren't encumbered by the need for an advance. What would you do? Discouragingly, there don't seem to be too many success stories in the world of English language dramatic webcomics. Some humor strips are doing well, of course, but is anybody paying the bills with a non-funny webcomic?
The Koreans are having a lot of success with serious online comics (this one, like several others by the same author, was turned into a film). Korean web comics are very meaty, with long, vertically-arranged chapters that come out on a regular schedule. The most popular artists are sponsored by the gigantic portal sites that host them. Webcomics are not only sustainable, they're very big business in Korea. One interesting aspect of this system is that there's no formal barrier between amateur and professional submissions -- anybody can upload a comic to Daum (Daum's sort of the Korean Yahoo, Naver is Google, and Google, ironically, is Bing). As artists attract readers, they increase their chances of being selected as a sponsored artist. It's such a great setup that a case could probably be made for translating your comic into Korean just to get a crack at all those millions of readers. As you might imagine, it's a pretty competitive space, and foreign comics don't have the best track record in Korea. But who knows? You might be the first!
Anyway, I'm keeping an eye on the iPad. If the install base gets big enough, the iBooks store could be the golden ticket. Other than that, I don't even know what questions I should be asking. It'll be a couple of months before I break ground on the new project, so I'll be in info-gathering mode until then. Hopefully some smart people will drop some knowledge-bombs on the comments section.
Ah, one last thing. I replaced the clunky left-toolbar page previews with a slick Flash-based thingy. Here's another link to the same preview: