Item! Canuck letterer/colourist and bon vivant Keiren Smith hips us to a free comics! The Canadian super hero webseries Tights and Fights is offering a free download weekend to coincide with the Wizard World Toronto Comic Con this weekend. A free PDF comic written by me!
All the polite Canucks behind the series ask is for you to join their e-mail list and please direct others to do the same rather than just sharing the doc around. (So I ask you, is this shameless plugging? Or pointing out a fabulous comic deal? You be the judge. – Rob)
Item! Marcus Bornfreund over at Creativecommons.ca hips us to Appropriation Arts, who have just published a digital comic book, 51st State, challenging the Harper government’s attempts to rewrite copyright laws. (Something I heartily applaud, although I don’t agree with everything this book calls for).
As a unique way to get the word out I commend 51st State. But as comics it’s pretty bad. Essentially it reads like a poorly flowing fumetti polemic cobbled together in Mac Comic Life from appropriated online images. If they understood how comics work they could have really gotten their message across in clearer manner.
Item! Speaking of Creative Commons, over at IBM developerWorks I stumbled upon this tutorial on how to find and utilize the perfect Creative Commons license for you.
Item! By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, take two orbs of Agamottos and call us in the morning. Come Ditko your mind and learn about the 1967 Doctor Strange radio series at the audiocomics blog! Yes, that Dr. Strange. Sadly, no link to audio.
Fueled by local animation artists eager to show off their stuff, The Mosaik Project has big plans for the future. I was fascinated to learn more about the book and the ballsy, alternate approach to distribution. So contacted Carlton Branch, the spokesperson for Ex Machina 7, the studio/collective behind the project.
Many times I have passed those racks of free magazines like Renter’s News in the Toronto subways or the boxes on street corners filled with newsprint Learning Annex catalogues and local fashion magazines devoted almost exclusively to advertising. I always find myself checking out the printing and feel of the publications, wondering how a local comic or zine in that format would fair in such a distribution environment. The subway may be one of the few places a sufficient cross-section of people could find and try out a comic regularly. It’s the last bastion of the old newsstand distribution system.
On Monday my surprise Valentine’s Day gift from the universe was spying a magazine on the subway free paper rack. The stylish, simple graphic on the cover led me to assume it was a gamer mag. But to my surprise it was the premiere issue of a local Toronto comic that promises to be bimonthly, widely distributed and free – The Mosaik Project by the Ex Machina 7 Collective.
The debut issue left me with a lot of questions so I contacted I contacted Carlton Branch at Ex Machina 7 and asked him a few questions.
Rob: I have read through your blog and Facebook Page so I have some sense that this has been building behind the scenes for a while now. Let’s start with the basics. The only specific people credited in the magazine are Michael Dedrick, Perry L.J. Osuna, Jody Todoschuk and yourself. Would that more or less be the Ex Machina 7 collective?
Carlton: The Ex Machina 7 Collective is a loosely knit collective of comic book and animation artists. I say ‘loosely-knit’ because we don’t really have assigned roles and so many of us wear different hats on each project. So, in addition to Michael, Perry, Jody and myself, there is also Jonny Lam and Bonnie Tang who did painting work on the first issue.
In addition to these four, there are 3 others, who we couldn’t name because they’re currently under contract to other studios at the moment. And there is also our production coordinator, who makes sure nothing falls through the cracks. So we could have easily have called our company Ex Machina “11″, but 7 had a nice ring to it
Rob: The animation background of the collective comes through in flying colours. Including the partial interview with Mark Jones, Chair of the School of Communication Arts at Seneca College. Is that the connection for you guys?
Carlton: Every artist on Ex7 is a working production artist either in the Toronto animation industry or in comic books. For myself, I am a 3d artist and storyboard artist from Toronto. I graduated from the Seneca College School of Animation Arts. Right out of college, I went to work for House of Cool Studios as a storyboard clean-up artist. After that I did freelance for March Entertainment, De-Code Entertainment, and a number of commercial storyboard projects, including a music video for recording artist, Karl Wolf and a spot for Jagermeister.
When the 2d freelance work began to dry up, I switched over to 3d and worked at C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures as a 3d modeling artist, before getting hired at GANZ interactive where I worked for almost two years, as a 3d artist, before I left to help build Ex Machina 7 and edit the Mosaik Project. I’ve been working in the animation industry for over five years now.
Rob: The first issue is out there and I’ve read through the blog but it doesn’t quite answer the question, how did all this start?
Carlton: As far as the Mosaik Project itself, one of the very first things that I learned in the animation industry was this: ”Intellectual property is everything”. This means that if a studio does not own at least some of the projects that it works on, or if it does not have at least one internally generated product that it can put out regularly, then it will be in a constant state of anxiety and insecurity. I saw this principle applied in both the biggest and the smallest studios in Toronto.
Where I saw security and growth, especially when the American economy went south, (or should I say “East”?), the Canadian studios that weathered the storm the most successfully were the ones who invested heavily in their own human and creative resources, not just the ones who seemed to have the most money or the biggest building. For a starting company, this is a lesson that we could ill afford to ignore.