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Baker's Dozen
Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.

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BAKER'S DOZEN for 05/26/2004
Byron Preiss and Patrick Coyle on Komikwerks

When someone like Byron Preiss, a man who's worked in comics for nearly three decades and has been on the cutting edge of presenting the broader public comics in the graphic novel format, has a hand in the creation of a company like Komikwerks, followers of the comics scene take note. And rightly so.

However, the rest of the folks who contributed mightily to the cause, so to speak, are too often overlooked. Take, for example, Patrick Coyle, who has been more than a little instrumental to both the creation and the day-to-day operations of Komikwerks. Recently, both gentlemen took a few moments from their overstuffed schedules to talk about their online efforts, what they're trying to accomplish with the various aspects of the Komikwerks project, and what they might have planned for both the near and far terms.

Komikwerks

Bill Baker: Patrick, how would you describe Komikwerks?

Patrick Coyle: Komikwerks is comic publisher that specializes in digital distribution of creator-owned comics. Our website, Komikwerks.com, serves as the main distribution channel. But from a reader's perspective, the website is just a great web destination, with interviews, editorials, and reviews all online, in addition to lots of great comics by comics and animation professionals.

BB: So where did the idea for Komikwerks come from, who was involved in developing and implementing it initially, and how has it grown and changed since then?

Byron Preiss: Patrick Coyle and Shannon Denton were the founders of Komikwerks. Patrick is a 12 year veteran of the interactive design industry, and a long-time comics fan and amateur creator. Shannon has been in the comics and animation industry for the last 12 years, working as a storyboard artist and director on a number of animated shows and movies. He has also penciled and inked comics for Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, and published his own creator-owned work through Antarctic Press. Between Shannon's connections in comics and animation, and Patrick's skills and connections in web design, they realized that they could start something pretty revolutionary: an online comics collective, where they could post comics from creators all over the world for readers to read free of charge. Komikwerks.com launched on March 5th, 2001, with 9 comics and an interview. Today, we have over 60 comics on the site, and tons of interviews and other features, Over the last 3 years, we have gained the support of some great comic book veterans, like Keith Giffen, Ernie Colon, Dave Elliott, and others who have published some of their work on the site. Then in 2003, we formed our partnership with ibooks, and things began to really grow exponentially!

Blacksad 2: Arctic Nation

BB: What kind of audience are you looking to serve with Komikwerks, and how can they access the strips? Also, do they have to pay for the service, or is it free?

PC: We try to gear Komikwerks to an all-ages audience. There's nothing on the site that is above a PG-13 rating, and that's by design. We want readers of all ages to be able to enjoy the site without worrying that there is offensive or inappropriate material in the mix. Currently, all the comics on the site are free - all a reader needs to do is click to Komikwerks.com, browse through our titles, and start reading. However, very soon, we are going to launch a new subscription service called "The Sunday Comics". The Sunday Comics is going to be a joint venture between Komikwerks and ibooks, wherein we will post an online version of the many great graphic novels that ibooks publishes. These graphic novels are by top comics talents, like Joe Kubert, Mike Mignola, Moebius, Alex Ross, and many others. For a monthly fee, readers will be able to login and read these graphic novels, which will be updated with new episodes each week. Over the course of a year, readers will be able to read at least a dozen graphic novels online, most of them over 100 pages in length, for a fraction of the cost of buying them in the store. And just to be clear, this service will not replace our free online comics, this will be offered in addition to them.

Icaro: Book 2

BB: What if someone wanted to own a copy of something on the Komikwerks site? Is everything posted there available in print?

PC: Komikwerks began publishing a series of comics anthologies last year, which feature many of the creators who post comics on the website; the third collection, entitled Nuts and Bolts, will be in stores this April. These anthologies feature all-new content, not "reprints" of the comics that are on the website. Our approach to web and print publishing is that they should augment one another, not simply copy each other. So we try to publish comics featuring characters and creators from the website, so readers can get more new content across the board. All of our print collections are available at your local comic shop, and you can see sneak previews of them on our website.

Komikwerks, Volume 1

Content found in "The Sunday Comics" service are available as printed graphic novels from ibooks in comics shops and bookstores across the country, as well as on Amazon.com. Readers can see previews for all the ibooks graphic novels on Komikwerks.com.

BB: Let's say that someone reading this decides that they'd love to have their stuff on Komikwerks. How do they go about getting their work posted there? What's the submission process consist of, who do they submit their work to, and in what format should those samples use, and what are some of the criteria that they'd need to meet?

BP: All the guidelines, where to send them, what to send etc. can be found in detail on our submissions page: www.komikwerks.com/submissions.php

PC: The submission process is pretty simple: you send us samples of your work that meet our guidelines (if they do not meet our guidelines, we will dismiss your submission, no matter how good it is, sorry!). Patrick and Shannon will review the work, and assess the quality and appropriateness of your work for the site and let you know how to proceed.

The best guideline creators can follow is our PG-13 editorial guideline. We get lots of comics with nudity, sex, and excessive violence that we can't even consider because it doesn't fit our editorial guideline. Comics can be fun, cool, and appropriate for all ages, and we're out to prove it!

Terminator: The Burning Earth

BB: Aside from getting the opportunity to join forces with those folks already posting on Komikwerks and getting their work seen by a wide audience, what are some of the other benefits, monetary and otherwise, that creators can expect from getting accepted?

PC: Besides the ability to post your work in a prominent location where anyone in the world can read your work, publishing with Komikwerks has several benefits; we attend conventions across the country, spreading the word about the site and our creators, raising awareness. If your comic proves exceedingly popular online, there is the possibility that we will consider publishing it print. Also, through our association with ibooks, we have the ability to publish and distribute comics as ebooks and PDA books, which could mean wider distribution and potentially some money for creators. Komikwerks also has a partnership with Circle of Confusion, a creative management company in Los Angeles and New York. They represent Komikwerks and their creators, and are out pitching our comics for licensing opportunities with TV, film, and video game producers. So there are lots of good reasons to try and publish with us online!

Yossel: April 19, 1943

BB: I get the feeling that you see Komikwerks as more than just a comics page; what are some of the other services and opportunities offered by the site?

PC: I mentioned The Sunday Comics service above, so I'll mention some of the other great things on the site. We have the Kollaborators Board, where creators -- writers, artists, etc. -- can post an ad looking for creative collaborators to work with on projects. It's a great way to meet fellow creators, and we've actually had a few of those meetings turn into projects on the site! Komikwerks.com also has a Discussion Board, where readers can talk about all sorts of different topics related to comics with other comic readers. As I mentioned earlier, we have a series of interviews with great comics pros like Bernie Wrightson, John Romita Jr., and Keith Giffen, just to name a few. We also have Rants, which is a series of Editorials where people sound off on a comics-related topic of their choice. "Suspended Animation" is a comics review column run by Michael Vance, and every week we have new comics and graphic novels reviewed by Michael and his crew. One other great feature on the site is "Ask Krognar", an advice column kind of like "Dear Abby", only the letters on our site are answered by a intergalactic despot who is bent on taking over Earth. It's a very funny column.

Amelia Rules! What Makes You Happy

BB: What do you hope that regular readers get from visiting Komikwerks?

PC: I hope that they feel they're getting great comics and comic-related entertainment every week. I hope they'll use our website and print books as a vehicle to get more people reading comics - that was the main idea behind utilizing the web - it's free for everyone, and easy to access, so why not spread the love?

BB: Anything you'd like to add?

PC: Be on the lookout for more great projects this year from Komikwerks. We've begun two projects, one is a graphic novel written by Keith Giffen and art by a great animator named Thomas Perkins; the other is a children's book, also written by Keith, and featuring illustrations by the great Bernie Wrightson! And there will be more announcements soon...

Bloody Streets of Paris

******

Whether you are looking for something new and different read, you're an aspiring creator looking for a new publishing opportunity, or you just want to hang out with some very good and fun folks online, you'd be well served to visit www.komikwerks.com. To check out ibooks' diverse selection of graphic and prose novels, which range over a truly stunning array of genres, go directly to www.ibooks.net. Either way, chances are pretty darn good that you'll sure to find something new -- or even old -- that you'll enjoy immensely.

<< 05/19/2004 | 05/26/2004 | 06/02/2004 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum.
Read my weekly blog, Speculative Friction, on my website BloodintheGutters.com.


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