Monday, April 10, 2017

Regarding the early pages of Alt-Hero

Earlier today, Vox Day showed us two early pages of  what looks to be Castalia House's first entry into comics, depending on the timeframe of the Quantum Mortis adaptation. Now, I know that Vox isn't into the medium himself, and a lot of the VP commenters are cheerleading this(especially ones that don't read comics), so I felt it appropriate to write up some thoughts.

1. It might be self limiting. One of my concerns with a hero book of this type(most of them, really), is that there's only so many stories one can tell with them. I'm not saying this is bad. If this goes for a 12 issue equivalent, is done well and improves along the way, and doesn't go on pointlessly, then GREAT. Complete stories are better in many ways. It could also provide a stepping stone to a comics universe.

Really, my point is, I don't want to see the same story 38 times(# chosen randomly). I don't care if they have a new villain each time. Tell the story, and leave. At least for a bit. Come back when there's a good new story. 

2. The art is ok. That's about it. It's not my favorite by any means, and most of the books I've seen with a similar style are targeting a YA non-hero audience. Again, not a negative, just an observation. The layouts are PLAIN as all get out, and that, again is not necessarily a negative, but it is an indicator of  a need for input from people that know the medium.

I do know I would like the art style better in a cartoon than in comics. Why?  When I'm reading, I can take time to really look at the art. Cartoons work at the pace of playback.  And I'm far more willing to forgive a plain background panel if there's say, Hal Foster level detail elsewhere(see Prince Valiant). That's not present here, and I don't know how fast this was churned out.

3. Vox likely should acquaint himself with some of the aspects of comic book theory. I'm not talking art here, at least wholly, but scripting things that allows comic readers to fill in holes effectively, among other things. I would recommend to him and his artist Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics, and possibly Making Comics as well. Yes, McCloud is a liberal; he also is pretty much unparalleled in his understanding of the structure of comics, how they accomplish things, and how they work differently than text or film.

I'd also recommend some Will Eisner and Jim Steranko for the artist. Eisner drew people amazingly, and Steranko's Nick Fury books had more creativity sometimes in one page than most modern books in totality.

4. It's a start. To an extent, I understand Vox's desire to succeed at this himself first. But, there's plenty of writers he could be reaching out to: Chuck Dixon, Doug TenNapel, and yes, even Jon Del Arroz come to mind for a start. This is without touching adaptations of existing CH books(Moth and Cobweb and the Ames Archives, please!), and are good creatively with some record of success already in the medium.

Honestly, I'm more interested in the long-term prospects(new Earthworm Jim?) than Vox's initial push. Oh, I'll buy it, don't get me wrong, but I think it's also a weaker opening than he could make. Of course, if he can succeed in a field Tor failed(and screwed the creators), that's another aspect of this.

5. Format. I know the biggest reason for digital is that all of CH stuff is digital first. My opinion is that comics on reader programs aren't nearly as good as a physical copy, for a few reasons. If you need to zoom in to read a panel, the flow is gone(and some of the medium's trick disappear, though new ones can show up). The amount of space comics take up is HUGE comparatively.  As to the physical versions, it's sounding like he's thinking of the equivalent of softcover being a trade collection, and the hardcovers being what DC calls the Deluxe edition(2-3 trad volumes).

Again, I am looking forward to this project. But it's the long term implications that I'm excited about.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


  1. Oh man are you tickling my pickle with the thought of a Doug Tennapel comic put out by Castalia House! I love the guy's work, and he really understands what makes a good comic. Even his video games play out like a comic book rather than a point-and-click game. Except for Skullmonkeys, but that was more a platformer than anything.

    The art in Alt-Hero reminds me a lot of, like, old school Casey Jones from TMNT. Or maybe even Spiderman: The Animated Series. Nothing too flashy, but it doesn't need to be. In any event, I'm looking forward to this!

  2. The digital format isn't so much of a problem if you have a large 1080p monitor like I do.