Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Legal | Nicaragua has refused entry to the French cartoonist Julien Berjeaut, who uses the pen name “Jul.” Berjeaut, who has done freelance work for Charlie Hebdo, was slated to be part of a panel titled “Humor against barbarity, homage to Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression” at a conference in Managua. He made a video that was played at the event instead. Berjeaut said he doesn’t know why he was barred from the country. [Miami Herald]
Legal | Two men were questioned by police after they were spotted taking photos of the home of Laurent Sourisseau, the publishing director of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Sourisseau has been under police guard since the January attack on Charlie Hebdo‘s Paris headquarters, in which 12 people were killed. [The Local]
The web is the most decentralized comics platform: There’s no comiXology or Diamond Comic Distributors for the web, and a lot of webcomics, such as xkcd and Homestuck, have huge followings that don’t necessarily cross over into the rest of the comics world. At the same time, the question of how to make money by giving away a comic is one that creators answer over and over again, often in very different ways.
That’s why Tapastic is worthy of notice. It aims to be the central location, sort of a YouTube of webcomics, and the big news this week is that the company has signed a deal with the Korean Internet portal Daum Communications for $2 million of Series A funding. One immediate result of the partnership is that Tapastic has begun carrying an English-language version of the Like a Wolf, one of the most popular webcomics in Korea.
We talked to Tapastic CEO Chang Kim about his plans for Tapastic and how the Korean webcomics market differs from the U.S. market. Plus we also have an exclusive look at art from Like a Wolf.
Digital comics | ComiXology CEO David Steinberger dicusses the growth of the digital-comics platform, which was the top-grossing non-game iPad app for the third year in a row. “We’re finding that a larger and larger percentage of our user base — our new user base — is people who are buying comics for the very first time with us,” he tells Wired. Steinberger also hints at a next step for comiXology: curation. [Wired.com]
Comics | Torsten Adair looks back at some comics trends in from 2013 and looks ahead to what we can expect in 2014. [The Beat]
Comics | Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie discusses the relaunch of the publisher’s Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator series and the debut of Prometheus. [io9]
Legal | More details have emerged about Hirofumi Watanabe, the 36-year-old man suspected of sending more than 400 threatening letters to convention centers, retailers and other sites in Japan associated with the manga Kuroko’s Basketball. The newspaper Mainichi Shimbun revealed Watanabe studied anime at a vocational school but dropped out at age 20. Also, a search of Watanabe’s apartment turned up toilet bowl cleaner, a scrap of paper that said “creating hydrogen sulfide” and, not surprisingly, several volumes of Kuroko’s Basketball.
Oddly, Watanabe claims to be two different perpetrators who use two different accents, standard Japanese and a Kansai accent, and many of the statements he made in his letters and online postings, including that he was acquainted with Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki, appear to be false. Anime News Network also reports that when he was arrested, Watanabe had about 20 threat letters in his backpack, and that he told police he was jealous of Fujimaki’s success. [Anime News Network]
Jorge Cham’s PhD Comics takes a wry look at the vagaries of life in academia, mostly from the point of view of a handful of long-suffering graduate students. He also has a feature, “Two Minute Thesis,” in which he summarizes real research in a comic or video; it’s sort of the comics equivalent of a TED Talk. It has built quite a following over the years (as a former grad student, and the wife, daughter and sister of college professors, I find it irresistible), so it’s big news that Cham is bringing PhD Comics to the webcomics site Tapastic. Or, part of it: PhD Comics will continue to run on its regular schedule on its original site, and Tapastic will carry a curated selection of Cham’s strips. I talked to Cham about PhD Comics, and the Tapastic move, and he drew a special cartoon just for us as well!
Robot 6: How long have you been drawing PhD Comics, and how did you get started with it?
Jorge Cham: I’ve been drawing PhD now for almost 16 years (!). It started as a hobby at first, as a way to procrastinate from my studies. I saw an ad in the student newspaper at Stanford University, where I was going for grad school, calling for submissions for their comics page. My brother suggested there should be a comic about grad school because they are usually ignored on campus, so on a lark I sent in some samples. At the time, I had a full course load and was working two jobs teaching and doing research, but it really seemed like something that needed to be done. Grad school had been a really intense, often bizarre, ego-crushing experience for me, and I had found it really useful to learn that others were going through the same thing, so it seemed important to record it and share it with the world.
Tapastic is a new digital-comics platform that allows users to upload their comics to the Internet. That isn’t a new idea, and when Nina Kester, whom I first met when she was working with Archie, contacted me about it, my first question (asked and answered below) was “How is this different from SmackJeeves or Drunk Duck?” Well, I was a bit more polite than that.
One way to look at it is that Tapastic is webcomics sites 2.0. It’s sleeker, more polished, and it has venture capital funding, so someone is planning to make money from it. I asked Nina to explain what Tapastic is up to, talk about the plans for WonderCon, and recommend a couple of her favorite comics from the site.
ROBOT 6: What sets Tapastic apart from other webcomics sites?
Nina Kester: The first thing everyone notices about Tapastic in contrast with other comic websites is our design. Our CPO Daron Akira Hall’s minimalistic aesthetic for the site and Tapastic’s apps and his design of the user experience always tend to be the first “wow” because it makes the content look so attractive. In his own words, “the main focus for the overall design UI from my perspective has been to keep it simple and flat, not too colorful … in order to let the content shine through, keeping the focus on the art, etc.”