DARK MUSINGS #57 – What does kill you makes you stronger…
by Andrew Zar 10/4/13
Shot blog today, but had to share my glee in finally reaching Mirror/Mirror #10 where the basic premise for our whole CORTEX line of comics is shown. What if to evolve humanity we have to accept death as a part of our path? Not an end, but a step that you have to embrace… even welcome?
As a writer/producer, I can’t wait to get out the rest of this story – damn budgets and timing! GAH! I just can’t wait to get through Church of Two (which continues the Mirror story) with our readers and hit our big combination title, Rashida’s Ascension… But I’ve never been credited with patience… it’s not a virtue for me, it’s a pain in the ass!
Till next time,
Above art is from Mirror/Mirror #10 by Dani Calero. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved.
DARK MUSINGS #56 – Another setback for The Vat
by Andrew Zar 9/4/13
The Vat was one of the first stories I ever created, and one of the most challenging to draw. Hiring Ernie Chan to do the first four issues is one of the high points in all my DarkBrain work. His performance, his personality, and his talent made it all work – The Vat came to life with Ernie’s charm.
I truly wish I had the funds to have finished the series with Ernie, but I did not. Ernie could have easily done the entire 17 issue run. But after the first four issues, the “capital building” phase took so long that we lost Ernie. In fact, just before his difficulties and passing, he was on board to draw the last issue of Grace Comes Home as a “placeholder” as I continued to try to figure out a way to make The Vat happen. Oh how I wish I could have seen Grace’s snakes done “Ernie style.”
It is bittersweet to remember – but having seen Ernie put out four to six full pages of pencils+inks every day was truly incredible. And having seen him do art at the Pittsburgh comic con, where we shared a booth, was amazing.
The Vat, as a story, took a long two year break. I often thought of leaving the Vat as it is, but there is a critical problem – it is just a chapter of CORTEX and The Vat is actually interconnected to Locked Out, Columbia’s Underbelly, God Play and Too Important – telling one story. The entire plan requires The Vat – especially as the stories collapse together. So it needed to be completed, painful as it might be.
Easing back into it, I hired an artist and got back to work. After six months of difficulties, that effort was abandoned. Another break and I found another artist and had him successfully do another mini-series (the shorts in Columbia’s Underbelly called Clemency). Very successful, I had him start on The Vat. The initial pencils and colors are truly outstanding.
But the project lagged, six months (a theme?) and it finally failed. The artist’s situation had changed, the project no longer worked. And now it is abandoned again. Another setback for The Vat. And, again, I’m in “capital building” phase. I have an eye on the artist I feel will finally finish this series, but it will be another year before the project is ready to go.
So I reflect and try to learn from this. I have to learn that although I’m the creator and the producer and the financier, I am not fully in control. I have to accept that. I have to accept my own limitations in finances, timing, and capabilities. And I have to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. The Vat will be completed as I know I am that tenacious – I just don’t know exactly when.
But, most of all, I have to have peace that these breaks and delays are all important, somehow. Maybe to honor Ernie or simply that filling his shoes is just *that* hard? I am not sure, but I have a respect, not an anger, towards these delays.
Till next time,
Above art is from the second failed attempt at Vat #5. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved.
DARK MUSINGS #55 – Taking a moment
by Andrew Zar 8/15/13
Wow, been a while since my last blog! Just taking a minute today to bask in the fun of being in the middle of the latest Mirror/Mirror book. Sometimes I forget to do that, as I am so focused on books in heavy production.
Our current workload is huge with Church of Two wrapping inks and is off to colors as a full novel, Rashida is starting with a new artist, Envoy 82 is cooking along well, Butcher is in #10 pencils, SORTAN #10 is about wrapped, Pissy Pussy is making me nervous as usual and about 10% done with #7, Brandi is on her second to last issue for the whole series as she wraps with #8, and writing is deep in several titles including Zeopatra, Haunting Ivy, Church of Zero, Mirror/Mirror Apocalypse, The Witches Three, and others.
But today, I re-read the final Mirror #8 and smiled. Very, very fun to enjoy the finished product of so many years of work. I love Dani, Lya and Celestin’s art on this series. Everett provided some clutch storytelling and I picked it up myself in upcoming issues. It is an important transition for the readers too, as we start to show how several series are connected to – actually, symbiotic with – each other. It is here we see The Witches Three now matching up with Brenna. Later Church of Two will continue.
It is pretty damn exciting to get these to pull together at last, realizing the vision of the different novels as a single, complete story. Not cross-overs, just one big story. Hope you are having a fraction as much fun as I am!
Ok, back to the grindstone…!
EDIT: Tumblr does a horrible job with this image, but you can see it easily in our free gallery here: http://www.darkbrain.com/dbe/Gallery.aspx?G=mirror08
Till next time,
Above art Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved.
DARK MUSINGS #54 – Fuck Google Glass
by Andrew Zar 6/4/13
Today Google bans “sexually explicit material” from Google Glass. This is just another (obvious) step for Google, as they have already enacted this ban on other services such as Google+. They are, of course, legally allowed to do whatever they want with their own products – so you can expect more morality-based decisions like banning firearms or philosophical discussions or breastfeeding mothers or art from Picasso or anything that indicates you are more than a sheep.
Because, to Google, you are just that – sheep to generate ad revenue. And Google Glass is a play to make ads appear in your daily life, in everything you do - ads, ads everywhere! But, remember, it also means you will be censored and rendered docile. Because docile, thoughtless sheep make for the best ad revenue.
I will think of that every time I see anyone with Google Glass. Just another thoughtless sheep – if a dramatic example of it. Maybe that’s a good thing – because I can use my own “filter” and just actively ignore those people? It’s still a free country to do that… for now… until the powers that be realize I’m not a good sheep…
Till next time,
Above art Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved. But feel free to post it wherever the fuck you want.
DARK MUSINGS #53 – Yahoo will castrate Tumblr
by Andrew Zar 5/20/13
There are precious few honest Internet companies who see their users as people – adults who can choose what they want to do (as long as it is legal, of course). The trend is to not do that, but instead establish a new set of morality and rules for user under some context of making the Internet “safe.” This is why, for example, FaceBook bans art by Picasso, Rembrant and Dali – and payment gateway Square bans any purchases of legal firearms or ammo - and deviantART bans logos from companies they don’t approve of. Other companies with a hard on to dominate and control users are Apple and Google.
Why? The reason boils down to a core fact: the people in control of Internet content are the advertisers. Not the users. Advertising is the game now – people are the commodity. Even though the people have the money (AND all of the valuable content to begin with), the advertisers have found a way to take the controlling position. They dominate companies trying to approach topics with free speech. And, what is most mind-blowing, is that the people agree – they will be nice little controlled Internet sheep and also pay for that privilege.
So the, very, very few Internet companies with the balls to have true ethics – to not bow to the advertisers – remains a very small set. Of the most known, I would say Twitter and Tumblr are the two largest. Each has millions of users, each promotes a hardcore free-speech mantra, and each has been very successful.
BUT, today the rumors have become true: Yahoo will purchase Tumblr. This, unfortunately, means Tumblr will succumb to the advertising gavel and thousands of adults using Tumblr will (eventually) be banned. It is 100% inevitable.
Why? Because the ONLY reason Yahoo purchased Tumblr is to “monetize” it. And to monetize means to advertise. And, advertisers will not welcome any “adult” content on Tumblr – this is how it has gone with every single other Internet company who bases their model on advertising dollars. So a great purge will occur. No idea when, but it’s coming.
Yahoo will not have the fortitude to put ethics above money – they will cave – and Tumblr will cave. It is inevitable.
And there will be many people who do not see it coming. But study the motivations – if you understand the motivation, you will understand (and anticipate) the action. (Take a read of Freakecomics – a great case study about motivations and behavior). Yahoo has zero intention of being labled an “adult” brand – there is no upside for them in supporting free speech. It is better to let the fringe (those of us who like to actually act like adults, not cattle) just move on and to monetize the masses.
So, to all my colleagues who use Tumblr for free expression – best start building your own blog. I would guess than when the ban comes, they will also purge and delete all of your content – years of it – in an instant and without notice. Just as FaceBook and deviantART has done in the past.
Till next time,
Above art is from DarkBrain.com’s series Mirror/Mirror by Dani Calero, Lya and Celestin. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
DARK MUSINGS #52 – A Bold New Series: Envoy 82
by Andrew Zar 5/11/13
Next week, on 5/15/13, we launch our new sci-fi series Envoy 82. It is a bold new artistic direction for DarkBrain with Nic Giacondino doing pencils, inks and colors. The style is unlike anything DarkBrain has done before, a real treat. The style is magical and I can’t wait for people to enjoy it.
The first issue is free, to let our current fans – and new fans – get a solid feel for what the series will bring. The series is seven issues and a self-contained storyline. The story I’m very proud of. It started with my usual plotline brainstorm – one that grabs me and forces itself to be finished when I really didn’t have time or even space in our schedule. I’ve learned to just let that happen. Other series started this way too including Pissy Pussy and SORTAN-VALTA.
After working with the plotlines a bit, I decided it deserved to be written… even if I didn’t produce it. So I got Crystal Storm on the case and she took the plotlines and made it a story. Not all that unexpected, but after the script was done I (reluctantly?) decided I had to re-work the DarkBrain production schedule to make room… (Why do I keep doing that to myself? I dunno.)
Then the search for an artist was about as brief as possible – I already had Nic working on The Witches Three. His style was such a natural fit for Envoy, it had to be done. The Witches Three was pushed in the schedule to make room, and here we have it – our new series.
So take a peek at our intro video and get ready for Wednesday’s launch!
Till next time,
Above is the cover for Envoy 82 #1 by Nic Giacondino. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
DARK MUSINGS #51 – The Dawning of Doom
by Andrew Zar 5/1/13
Today is a milestone day – we have finished the God Play story! Started in 2009, this story was the most complicated and difficult of all our stories to get done.
God Play came to be from my fascination with Oxford professor Nick Bostrom’s “Simulation Argument” in philosophy (http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html). In an overly-simplified nutshell, this argument proposes that there is a high likelihood that our very reality is but a simulation. I just love how the argument can be used to provide a scientific basis for God.
Exploring the concept, I developed my vision of the future state of the world, about a thousand years from now. I theorized that our technology advances would take a hit after massive flooding and world destruction due to global warming and our lack of ability to manage it, but then build back up enough at that time to satisfy the simulation argument.
So I created Dr. Alexandra Torrence, the scientist who creates the world simulator and discover that she (or, more accurately, another universe’s version of her who created the actual simulation we live in) is God herself.
I was also inspired by a short story by qntm called “I don’t know, Timmy, being God is a big responsibility.” (http://qntm.org/responsibility) This story showcases the inherent power of people running a simulator from an ethical point of view.
My challenge was to think of how to solve some significant logic problems (like the people in the story could just fast forward it a billion years before turning it off) with the setup and also to provide a cyclical relationship – where the people in the simulation can influence their *own* simulation. That is the key to my story… which I called “parity.”
Still, the philosophical foundation for the story is just a tool – the story is actually about Alex’s journey. So the reveal of the cyclical aspects of Alex being God herself was just a step in the story, not the end.
And today, that story is now fully told. I hope our fans have enjoyed it as much as we did making it! I’ll close with this appropriate quote from the Die Krupp’s song The Dawning of Doom:
can’t escape it
hide away from it
there’s no light
at the end of the night
God Play homepage: http://www.darkbrain.com/dbe/GodPlay.aspx
Till next time,
Above is the cover for God Play #8 by Jermiah Rogers, Michael Brewer and Lya. Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
DARK MUSINGS #50 – DarkBrain V7
by Andrew Zar 4/18/13
Today we unleashed the seventh version of DarkBrain.com. You will see some very substantial changes and if you have been following DarkBrain for a while, you will see some evolution in our site design and branding.
The overall color scheme was brightened up to a more fun set of greens, the background showcases some of our art, and the fonts were updated to be nicer on the eyes. At the top of every page we now have our logo and new tagline (if you remember years ago, we used to be “Web Comics with Balls” – but now we have evolved to be a digital comic shop, so the tagline needed updating).
The old strategy of a row of series icons at the top has been moved into some handy new dropdowns at the top allowing you to quickly get to the newly released comics or to jump to any series we have – but without cluttering the screen all the time. Also, our “internal ads” were removed completely to again clean up the interface.
The home page was revamped – it used to have tiles for every comic series and was just a huge page of information. Now it is streamlined and showcases a large image of several comic series in a slideshow. Also, Pissy Pussy is giving a brief tour guide to the site. Also, as new comics are released, the home page will change to showcase new series highlights and be more dynamic and interesting.
Some tweaks were made to the members page for our existing members so they can login/logout and get their comics from that page without having to browse around the site.
So here we are with V7 ! Hope you like it.
Till next time,
Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved
Sunday is the last day you can get all these books for only $45! http://www.darkbrain.com/dbe/Members.aspx
Here it is - the end of our membership program! I hope everyone has had a chance to grab it to save big. It closes on Monday!
This is another step for DarkBrain. And it is a step away from “access over ownership.” For those following this blog to see industry trends, the basic concept is that selling access (memberships, subscriptions) is the model that is growing in many areas (Netflix for movies, various music services).
I believe access is the winner in the long term - and I hope that industry leaders such as DC and Marvel will eventually adopt an annual subscription for their catalog of digital books.
But the catch is that the size of the userbase has to be very large to make it work. Lacking enough numbers, nothing beats individual comic sales. And as the catalog mushrooms, subscriptions drop in value-per-user - making the target number even higher to sustain work.
Still, there is a strong interim strategy that digital comics are already doing: “bundles.” This involves taking a set of digital comics and selling them at a reduced price as part of a bundle.
DarkBrain has already started to work on bundles - which we call “collected editions.” The Butcher and Pissy Pussy have collected editions already and more will be following for most of our titles.
This change in how we sell will allow for some new advertising efforts and also new partners to sell our comics. So stay tuned!
Till next time,
DARK MUSINGS #48 – Diverse Body Types in Comics?
by Andrew Zar 3/5/13
One challenge with DarkBrain is to discuss specific topics such as body types and remember the context – that DarkBrain produces over a dozen series of comics. I would hope the sheer volume of work adds to a sense of diversity of topics, ideas, characters and art.
However, I have recognized some criticism that my work caters to a specific, “mainstream” view of comic book women: huge chests and thin waists. Of course, nobody seems to care that our men have six-pack abs and huge penises, which always leaves me scratching my head.
Although backed by story reasons (Holly in Church of One was built by God to be overtly sexually seductive to Sal who God gave a sex addiction to… and Brenna in Mirror/Mirror was designed off of real life Tabitha Stevens… who has a massive chest that isn’t my fault), I have felt that diversity of body types was something to work into our books a bit more.
But there is a deeper “problem” here – coming from my (unfounded?) worry that comic art depicting women with specific features would trigger a “child porn” feeling (like some manga does). Although I work with many distasteful topics designed to challenge readers, child porn is a topic I am not interested in working with in any circumstance, period.
Although I do believe that a drawing of something is fundamentally not the same thing as that something itself – this is a topic of just no interest at all. And utilizing the mainstream conventions seems to easily avoid the problem. I often wonder if that is one of the drivers of that convention in the first place.
Anyway, I am hoping people check out our work as a whole and see this new work in Envoy 82 and the upcoming Mirror/Mirror and Church of Two stories. I’m happy with characters being done as appropriate for the storyline, and I hope you are too! I believe the artists chosen have found a way to convey the character’s beauty in a variety of body types.
Till next time,
Images are from our upcoming titles Church of Two (Dani Calero) and Envoy 82 (Nic Giacondino). Copyright 2013, DarkBrain, LLC, All Rights Reserved