Valentine

Valentine cover

I’ve been remiss in not talking about Alex de Campi‘s Valentine comic before now.

It’s a serialized graphic novel released on multiple platforms online that’s astounding in its scope. Written by de Campi, the art is by Christine Larsen. I just wish I liked the story better. It’s described as a fantasy thriller, two of my least favorite genres, involving two French cavalry officers during the War of 1812.

Valentine cover

I’m not sure the subject matters, though, since part of the appeal is that this is the first major project to experiment in so many different ways. The first episode is free on each platform, with additional chapters (out monthly) costing 99 cents each. There are planned to be 24 in all, with #4 the most recent. Each is translated into 14 languages, so readers can find a version for them. It’s read a panel at a time, aimed at the small screens of wireless devices. It’s currently available for Android phones via Robot Comics (link no longer available). Comixology is handling the iPhone. There’s a Kindle store (although Amazon won’t support all the languages) and black-and-white ePubs for other electronic readers.

Valentine

There’s no official free version (past a sample of the first episode), but the writer isn’t freaking out over potential sharing. As she says, “the project is released under a creative commons licence so if you come across a version for free somewhere please do take it and enjoy it with our blessing. If you like it, please recommend it on to friends, or consider tipping us or buying a future episode.” Laptop/web versions are promised as coming soon, and a full-color print collection (of the first seven episodes) is due at the end of this year from Image Comics.

Now, what all this says about the digital comic realm is this: it’s very very hard to meet your audience where they want you to be. de Campi has talked about the challenges she’s faced in terms of prepping the same material for different formats. There’s no standard format, and transferring material from one to the other is complicated and time-consuming. (I’m also wondering about the choice of “episodes” instead of “issues”, using TV as a model instead of print comics.)

Being such an innovator has gotten de Campi a lot of press. In The Big Idea, she talks about the genesis of the concept, while at Comic Book Resources she discusses why she isn’t doing a standard webcomic and some of the economics behind her choice.



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