Many people have asked my opinion about the future of comics and the influence new media will have upon them. Interactive Comics, Online Comics, CD-Rom Comics, etc. All have incredible potential and possibilities. However they can not replace comic books because, although they are comic ART, they are NOT comic BOOKS, no more so than newspaper comic strips. It is a mistake to even (creatively) approach them as comic books, because you are automatically placing unnecessary restrictions on the medium in question. The creative envelope needs to be pushed on these new endeavors in order for them to stand on their own as a new medium.
As far as the effect new technologies will have on comic book production, we have already seen the influence of more powerful affordable computers has had on the industry. It has spawned a new breed of graphic designers, computer colorists, and self-publishers. It is the very impetus behind my book; Digital Prepress for Comic Books.
Digital Printing holds the next big advance for self-publishing and small press. It is now possible to have short run printings of black and white books at a reasonable resolution, and still maintain an affordable price. Short run digital color printing is not yet cost effective, but that is only a matter of time.
The way comics are printed now (offset printing), the more copies that are printed the less each individual copy costs. Which is one reason why independent comics cost more than a standard Marvel or DC comic. If a publisher can print only as many copies as he needs, whenever he needs them (the promise of Digital Printing) it will decrease loss from copies that are not sold, thus increase profits. This could lead to independent small press comics that maintain competitive prices with the big boys.
Due to advances in binding technology, it has now become more affordable, short runs of square bound and hardbound books. This could lead to a change for the entire industry and market for the media. It is my belief, that the North American market would improve if the industry evolved with a European perspective. Most European books are printed as individual self-contained stories (as opposed to the American monthly soap operas) in square bound or hard bound format. These types of book have a longer shelf life, and can be sold at conventional book stores as well as specialty shops. If they can be produced economically via digital printing- all the better for profits.
The main issues that need to be explored as far as color digital printing is concerned, are issues prepress and quality. The computer prepress and production work necessary for digital printing may be radically different than what is currently being done for offset printing. I donŐt know whether or not this is true, it is merely speculation on my part. But I am curious to know how digital color printing will handle such issues as trapping and ink saturation.
Town & Country Reprographics, Inc. is a digital printer which is trying to capture a niche market in the comic industry. For more information they can be reached at:
Publishers' Graphics is a digital printer than now has the capability to print short run HARDBOUND (as well as the standard square bound) black and white books. For more information go to www.pubgraphics.com .
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