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Reading Comics on the Phone or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Clickwheel
By Kurt Amacker
July 18, 2007
Greetings, Maniacs, and welcome to another exciting Wednesday with Comicscape! Last week’s column about DC’s new web-only Zuda imprint ran later in the day, for which I apologize. Then again, it also ran next to the review of the new Harry Potter movie, with which I probably can’t compete for your attention. I know your secret shame – all of you. Regardless, I reacted to Zuda with very guarded optimism, as I think that it sounds fantastic in theory. However, a host of questions remain unanswered by DC, the terms of the contracts for winning creators chief among them. Newsarama ran a reaction piece with quotes from several comics professionals, both web and print. Most reacted as I did: with more questions. Hence, while no one should herald Zuda as the Second Coming yet, they shouldn’t jump to herald it as the Third Coming of Epic. Wait and see. DC should reveal everything in the coming months.
Speaking of web comics, Maniac Tim Demeter has ascended the ranks of editor over at Clickwheel Comics. Tim once said very nice things about me in a letter about that nasty business in Marshall, Missouri, when a resident petitioned the library to remove two graphic novels. We like Tim. He likes us, too, in fact, so much so that he directed Clickwheel’s publicist Kristien to me to talk about Clickwheel. Essentially, Clickwheel brings comics to your iPhone. I don’t own an iPhone and I never will, unless someone gives me one. But, if you own an iPhone, Clickwheel brings original, fan-generated comics to your screen. This way, you can read comics on the subway without a hobo stealing your back issues to feed a trashcan fire waiting at the end of the line. If he steals your iPhone, you’re just screwed. A company called Rebellion just acquired Clickwheel. As I understand it, Rebellion makes these flashy games you play on your television or computer with a controller. They must have sprung up overnight or something. Regardless, that acquisition means muscle behind Clickwheel, which means more comics for everyone.
Once you create a Clickwheel account, it will allow you to upload your own webcomics and view those of others. Then, you can drag them on to your iPod or your iPhone or your iDon’tCare and click away. It seems simple enough. The site offers a nice little wizard to upload the files, which creates a unique space for your series and allows you to upload individual panels for each new episode as a zip file. Hence, if you want broader exposure for your comic – web or print – you can make it available for anyone with an iPhone or an iPod. And, if you really turn in some quality work, Tim and his friends might arrange for some compensation.
Tim explained to me, “We commission exclusive work on a project-by-project basis, which is to say we commission a specific piece from a creator or creative team and I negotiate an agreed upon length and rate for the entire project. So, we’ll pay for a one-shot or mini series up front, regardless of the number of downloads. We currently are not commissioning ongoing work. We do have non-exclusive, ongoing work on the site, but we currently only pay for exclusive work. And, while the site is open to all, the exclusive work is chosen by the editor, just like any comic company.” In other words, if you want to take Clickwheel’s nickel, you only publish with them. But, at the end of the day, you own your project. Tim said, “The freelance commissions are exclusive for six months but include no rights acquisition. We respect our creator's rights to their own intellectual properties.” They might not pay as much as DC, but you’ll keep the rights to your stuff. You can keep printing t-shirts and magnets until the end of time.
Right now, everything at Clickwheel costs nothing. But, its parent company Rebellion owns a little weekly comic called 2000 A.D., along with all of the associated characters, including Judge Dredd. For those unaware: 2000 A.D. has brought hard-ass, cutting-edge science fiction to the newsstands in Great Britain and the United States since 1976. It launched Judge Dredd and served as a venue for the early work of both Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. You can still get it every week, though the exchange rate jacks the price up to $4.10 here across the pond. This means Clickwheel will carry stories from the huge back catalogue of 2000 A.D. But, that content will require a subscription when it arrives online. Not every lunch comes free.
I’ve made it clear in the past that I don’t especially like reading comics on a computer. However, I could see reading a comic on a portable device to kill time on a plane or something. Then again, I’d probably have a book with me in the first place, but that hardly matters. I used to read The Onion and Crime Library on my cell phone before I found out how much money it cost me. And, while you can read the comics on Clickwheel using a desktop computer, it defeats the purpose. You have to unzip the folder and watch them on a slide show. Reading that way feels very cumbersome. If you head to Clickwheel's website, it allows you to read a few strips on an iPhone simulator of sorts embedded in your browser.
Now, here comes my Stodgy Old Bastard Rant. I really hate watching people sit around in public playing PSP’s, DS’s, cell phones, or whatever. It seems like the generation immediately behind mine can’t leave the house without playing with an electronic toy. Nothing simultaneously amuses and saddens me more than watching a group of friends sitting around at a coffee shop with their heads buried in their respective games – and no, they’re not always competing over a wireless connection. It never ceases to amaze me how addicted people become to portable electronic devices. Read a book, buy a newspaper, or make a new friend. Enjoy the world around you for 15 minutes. But, uploading from Clickwheel to your iPhone gives you the opportunity to actually read comics you might not find elsewhere. Or, if you subscribe, you can just catch up on 2000 A.D. back issues. You’re still reading, which makes it tantamount to sitting on the bus with a paperback or a newspaper. So, if you’re reading a new comic on your iPhone and you see a big guy in black rolling his eyes at you from across the café, just hold it up, point at it, and say “Clickwheel!” Then, I’ll give you a knowing smile – but just that once.
Thanks for reading, guys. See you next week!
The Spinner Rack
By Ben Johnson and Kurt Amacker
Ben: Hello all. If you are likely to become ill during mushy parenting fluff, skip the rest of this paragraph. I would like to officially announce the arrival of Elisha Kooper (after Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks fame – super-fans unite!!) Johnson, born June 13th, 2007. Because of some nasty medical complications with him and my wife – hence, my recent absence – I haven’t posted until now, but both appear to be out of the woods. He looks just like me, but shriveled and small. If you want to see a picture go here: Ben's creation. Ok, proud parenting off, smart ass on.
Kurt: I love how the baby has his hands up like he’s surrendering. Do you already have him breaking federal laws with you? Seriously, though, congratulations. May he be a masculine child.
DARK HORSE COMICS
Conan #42 (MR) $2.99
Goon #19 $2.99
Ben: The fall from relevance continues.
Kurt: I have nothing smarmy to say, because I haven’t read this in a long time. I enjoyed the first few trades, but I haven’t kept up. Does anyone else besides Ben want to chime in? I mean, someone who’s actually been to the site during the last three weeks. Hey, where am I going and why am I in this handbasket? Hey, wait!
Harvey Comics Classics Vol 1 Casper The Friendly Ghost TP $19.95
Hellboy Animated Rubber Stamp Kit $19.99
Ben: Are you serious?
Kurt: Dude, you should totally get this for Elisha. You could have your kid rocking on Hellboy before he’s out of diapers!
Little Lulu Vol 16 A Handy Kid TP $10.95
Kurt: I’d make some crack about Dark Horse’s choice of material these days, but this is comics history and everything.
Samurai Heaven & Earth Vol 2 #5 (Of 5) $2.99
Ben: This is my Zen. Read it and find out why.
Screw Heaven When I Die Im Going To Mars TP $12.95
Ben: This marks the first time that my work as a minister has stopped me from making the joke. I don’t think God looks kindly on angel sex humor.
Kurt: Didn’t the Misfits write a song about this back in the early ‘80s?
Space Pinchy TP (MR) $15.95
Star Wars 30th Anniv Coll Vol 6 Endgame HC $24.95
Star Wars Dark Times #4 (Of 5) $2.99
Ben: The continued odyssey of Lucas’s decision to direct the prequel trilogy.
Kurt: I like to think that, except for Revenge of the Sith, Lucas wrote the prequel trilogy with a dartboard and a bottle of Everclear.
Zero Killer #1 (Of 6) $2.99
Action Comics #852 (CD) $2.99
Kurt: This is by Kurt Busiek, which is awesome. What is not awesome is that the Geoff Johns and Richard Donner arc, The Last Son of Krypton, will not wrap until the next Action Comics annual, presumably sometime next year. They will write another arc once this Busiek arc wraps, however. Explain that to me, please.
All Flash #1 $2.99
Ben: I’ve seen picture of this when I turn my safe search off.
Amazons Attack #4 (Of 6) $2.99
Ben: This sucks a lot… Then again, that might not be so bad.
Aquaman Sword Of Atlantis #54 $2.99
Ben: Is anyone reading this? I’d really like to hear something about it.
Army @ Love #5 (MR) $2.99
Batman Harley And Ivy TP $14.99
Birds Of Prey #108 $2.99
Black Canary #2 (Of 4) $2.99
Brave And The Bold #5 $2.99
Canon Vol 2 $9.99
Catwoman #69 $2.99
Checkmate #16 $2.99
Ben: OK, she’s still there, what now?
Countdown 41 $2.99
Ben: I am starting to lean into the dissenters’ party. Nothing much is happening outside of scenes we’ve seen in other books from new angles. The death of Bart Allen last week was pretty brutal though.
Encyclopedia Of Comicbook Heroes Vol 2 Wonder Woman $19.99
Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special 2nd Ptg #1 $4.99
Ben: If you didn’t get this the first time I hope you die, but if you don’t then you should buy this printing.
Highwaymen #2 (Of 5) $2.99
Justice League Of America #11 $2.99
Ben: Have I mentioned how happy I am that the Lightning Saga is over? Keep these guys out of my JSA and I’ll be a good little fan boy.
Justice League Of America Var Ed #11 $2.99
Legion Of Super Heroes In The 31st Century #4 $2.25
Programme #1 (Of 12) $2.99
Ben: Now the French are misspelling our comics. From here on out it’s freedom fries, freedom kisses and freedom ticklers for this guy.
Programme Var Ed #1 (Of 12) $2.99
Ben: What’s worse than a French spelling on a comic title? A French spelling comic that has a variant. There is no hell bad enough for those behind this.
Recipe For Gertrude Vol 5 $9.99
Kurt: I like mine with fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Robin #164 $2.99
Scooby Doo #122 $2.25
Seven Soldiers Of Victory Archives Vol 2 HC $49.99
Ben: Better With Acid!!!
Kurt: It’s the old Seven Soldiers, not the Grant Morrison one.
Shazam The Monster Society Of Evil #4 (Of 4) $5.99
Ben: Not as good as Bone.
Spirit #8 $2.99
Stormwatch Phd Vol 1 TP $17.99
Superman Batman #38 $2.99
Superman Batman Var Ed #38 $2.99
Texas Chainsaw Massacre About A Boy #1 (MR) $2.99
Women Of The Dc Universe Big Barda Bust $45.00
Ben: Too easy.
Kurt: So, now the joke is that we don’t even make the joke? Damn, that’s postmodern.
Black Cherry GN (MR) $17.99
Ben: GN is like OB/GYN, just with less vagina.
Kurt: Having another kid has truly tapped you in the head.
Darkness Level 5 Dale Keown Cvr A $2.99
Kurt: I think this is based on one of those TV-type games I keep hearing about.
Darkness Level 5 Mike Choi Cvr B $2.99
Full Color GN $15.99
Ben: See Black Cherry
Godland #19 $2.99
Godland Vol 3 Proto Plastic Party TP $14.99
Intersections Ltd Ed S&N HC GN $34.99
Intersections SC GN $14.99
Madman Gargantua HC $125.00
Madman Gargantua HC Ltd S&N ED $150.00
Meltdown TP $15.99
Paul Jenkins Super Summer Sidekick Spectacular #1 (Of 2) $2.99
Ben: I have no idea what this is, but for some reason I must own it.
Repo #2 (Of 5) $3.50
Sam & Twitch Brian Michael Bendis Collection Vol 2 TP $24.95
Kurt: I haven’t read any of this stuff, but Bendis writes noir way better than he writes heroes. I think this is more his speed.
Sidekick Vol 1 TP (MR) $16.99
Spawn Collection Vol 2 HC $49.95
Strange Embrace #2 (Of 8) (MR) $2.99
Texas Strangers #2 $2.99
Ben: I wonder if Conan O’Brian could get a lever for this.
Weapon #2 (Of 4) $2.99
Kurt: Comic Titles Pulled Out of a Hat Presents…
Witchblade Takeru Manga Mack Cvr B #6 $3.99
Witchblade Takeru Manga Sumita Cvr A #6 $3.99
Annihilation Conquest Quasar #1 (Of 4) $2.99
Ben: Just like the old Quasar, just with constant lesbian action.
Kurt: I’m there.
Avengers Classic #2 $2.99
Avengers Initiative #4 WWH $2.99
Ben: I look forward to the inevitable Initiative vs. New Warriors battle.
Captain America #28 CWI $2.99
Kurt: After the three months between #25 and #26, I’m always surprised to see this book. I mean, I’d totally gay-marry Ed Brubaker anyway, but still.
Exiles Vol 15 TP $13.99
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #22 $2.99
Ben: As much as I haven’t enjoyed (hated) Peter David on this title, I’m glad he is wrapping up the loose ends from The Other.
Kurt: I, however, don’t care in the least about The Other. Imagine that!
Ghost Rider #13 WWH $2.99
Ben: Kurt, I read the last issue for the WWH crossover and realized how grateful I am to not be reading this on a regular basis.
Kurt: I haven’t read that issue yet, but I usually like this series.
Ghost Rider Trail Of Tears #6 (Of 6) $2.99
Giant Sized Marvel Adventures Avengers #1 $3.99
Hood Blood From Stones Premiere HC (MR) $19.99
Ben: Good stuff. I hope we see more from this character soon.
Kurt: This came out before everyone else realized how much Brian K. Vaughan rules. After that, everyone cried because they missed it. But, I bought it because it was a MAX book because MAX books rule. So, I didn’t have to cry like everyone else. Ha!
Legion Of Monsters Morbius $2.99
Kurt: All right, this just freaking rules. Now, bring on Essential Morbius!
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #26 $2.99
Marvel Adventures Hulk #1 $2.99
Ben: If WWH gives you potty pants at night, this is just the thing for you.
Kurt: There’s the child’s pernicious influence again.
Marvel Illustrated Treasure Island #2 (Of 6) $2.99
Marvel Zombies 5th Ptg Mary Jane HC $19.99
Kurt: Join in the controversy!
Mystic Arcana Black Knight $2.99
New X-Men #40 $2.99
Paradise X Vol 1 TP New Ptg $29.99
Kurt: And that’s the sound of the value of my copy plummeting.
Silver Surfer Requiem 2nd Ptg Var #1 (Of 4) $3.99
Super Villain Team Up Modoks 11 #1 (Of 5) $2.99
The Order #1 CWI $2.99
Tony Stark: I’ll take a Big Mac and a Side of Fries.
McDonald’s Employee: Marvel is really reaching with this Civil War thing.
Heath Ledger: Did anyone see my movie? Please?
Thunderbolts Desperate Measures $2.99
Kurt: This is a spin-off by Paul Jenkins, not Warren Ellis. Still, probably worth a look.
Ultimate Spider-Man #111 $2.99
Ben: Good Bye Mark Bagley, we’ll miss you much.
Kurt: Going to cry now?
Wolverine Origins Annual #1 $3.99
Kurt: Well, at least they’ll sell two copies.
World War Hulk #2 (Of 5) WWH $3.99
Ben: Now if only the Ultimate Hulk would show up and start eating people.
Kurt: And going after Freddie Prinze, Jr.
World War Hulk Front Line #2 (Of 6) WWH $2.99
World War Hulk Romita Jr Var #2 (Of 5) $3.99
World War Hulk X-Men #2 (Of 3) $2.99
Kurt: Ben, when you do the World War Hulk guest column, I’m spending Tuesday night in my boxers with a six pack of PBR.
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