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One of the guests at the ShiftyLook pavilion at New York Comic Con was an eight-foot-tall cardboard cutout of Ryan North, writer of Dinosaur Comics and BOOM! Studios’ Adventure Time comics, who had just been announced as the writer of the company’s Galaga webcomic. The comic launches today with three episodes and will update twice a week; the artist is Christopher Hastings, creator of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, and the colorist is Anthony Clark of Beartato.
The original Galaga, released in 1979 in Japan and 1981 in the United States, was a fixed-shooter game in which the player tries to take down hordes of insect-like aliens. If that seems like a pretty thin premise for a comic, well, consider that North has been doing a successful webcomic with exactly the same art every single day for almost 10 years. He’s up to it.
I talked to the ShiftyLook brass recently for Publishers Weekly. Their basic idea is to build an audience with free webcomics and then offer other products such as mobile games, T-shirts and chip music — it’s the webcomics model writ large, and it’s probably no coincidence that a lot of their creators, including Dean Haspiel, Scott Kurtz and the Buttersafe team, are best known for their webcomics. They are also providing steady, paying work for a number of up-and-coming creators, which is always a good thing. I think the key to this, as opposed to some others who have tried this model, is the quality of the work; the ShiftyLook folks clearly take comics seriously in their own right, not just as fodder for other media, and that shows in their choice of creators and the overall quality of the site.