A new golden age for comics?
It occurred to me recently that we are quite likely to be in a new golden era of comics, or at least I hope so. The reason I say this is that I see a pattern emerging which reminds me of Steven Johnson's idea of the adjacent possible.
An aspect of the theory is that new inventions can't arrive until other elements are in place. For example, we couldn't get astronomy until we had lens makers for telescopes. Those lens makers needed glassmakers, and those glassmakers needed glass and the ability to manipulate it.
I see two major factors that have been brewing for the past 10-20 years that are starting to come together.
- The increasing ease and ability to make 'born digital' comics.
- The number of different platforms, file types, and technology to distribute and read comics.
Both of these have been around for some time, however more recently we have things like:
- Apple Pencil and Procreate, make drawing digitally more accessible and popular (I'm one of them)
- The ease at which you can share artwork from said software
- Growing awareness and uptake of digital purchases
- NFTs and the metaverse (both are kind of gross to me, but also represent a growing awareness and market for digital items)
- Pandemic issues (supply chain and paper shortages)
- Increased move to online services like ebooks
- Platforms to support artists (Patreon, Kickstarter, Substack)
- Increasing postage prices, making shorter comics prohibitively expenses
Each individual thing may have been around for some time, but perhaps without the same awareness or scope.
More recently, I have been dabbling with making fixed-layout EPUBS. They're epubs that don't reflow as they are predominantly made out of images. When it comes to comics, they're all images! I have been waiting for digital comics to 'take off' for some years now. It is easy to think maybe I'm wrong, and they never will, but I think ebooks (and therefore digital comics) are following a slow curve that many different technologies go through.
See Seth Godin's gulf of disapproval
It starts with a lot of hype, then dies down, slowly plods along, and years later some other thing comes along that makes the original thing take off.
And that is where I see digital comics, I think we are somewhere between the lowest dip in the gulf and where the line hits common knowledge.