Loose Cannon: Issue #33

Fri, August 31st, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Larry Young, Columnist

LIVIN' ON INTERNET TIME

There's innovation, and there's your pop culture lingo, and then there's your crass marketing ploys. Sometimes you get all three in one go.

[Internet Time]Swatch, the rubber watch people, have come up with something that makes Esperanto look like a good idea. Of course, I'm talking about "Internet Time."

In a move destined to make future generations look back on the dawn of the Twenty-First Century and scratch their highly evolved crania and telepathically mumble "What the hell were they thinking? " to each other, Swatch has arbitrarily divided the old twenty-four hour day into 1000 "beats."

You know, because that old seconds-minutes-hours thing was just so last century.

One Swatch beat is the equivalent of 1 minute 26.4 seconds. That means that twelve noon in the old time system is the equivalent of @500 Swatch beats. Notice the use of the "at" symbol, as the standard notation of the "beat?" Oh, it's so hard to be distantly cool and archly comment on the disaffected at the same time, I'd imagine…

Of course, you, too, can buy Swatches that click off beats. And tell people that you'll meet them at the rave at 937, I suppose, were you so inclined.

But the "Internet Time" that I've lately become fascinated with is what the hipsters in San Francisco say to short-hand the phenomenon of information usage and how the advent of the ol' dubdubdub has decreased the half-life of the spotlight.

In other words, if Andy Warhol were around today, he's say that in the future, everyone'll get seven-and-a-half minutes of fame.

Or, you know, five-point-two "beats."

Anyway.

I'm sure you've noticed this in action, if you've spent any time on the various comic books discussion boards… the odd confluence of the long memory of comics fans juxtaposed with the burn-through rate of interest in the latest hot topic, where packs of folks will worry an issue like a rabid dog with a rag for a day or two until the next new outrage looms into their fields of vision…

Seemingly forgotten, the focus of debate will lie seething until, months later, somebody new arrives on the scene and says, "Hey, what really happened with…?" and the whole shitstorm starts up again anew.

The positive side of this quick Internet-Generation turnover made itself known to me this past week, when I had a few emails from people discovering my columns on publishing for the first time. It's odd for me, because those are more than a year in my past, but there are cats on the Internet who've never seen or even heard of them before, and there's still amazingly a level of current interest in them.

So, let's do a little recap and update, for those who've come in late:

One of the brilliant things about comic books, as opposed to movies, or TV, or the like, is that anybody can make a comic book. You don't need hundreds of thousands of dollars or the blessings of Columbia-TriStar to make your graphic pictorial narrative and put it out for the world to see.

In this first column, I introduced myself, and aired out a little inspiration. "Want to do a comic? Go ahead. Nobody's stopping you."

I like that one, myself, because it really is that easy.

This one explains pre-press and printing, and provides some contact info for printers to create tangible copies of your comic book brilliance. Bit of a roadmap for turning your scribblings into a physical object you can show your friends.

The third one explains the somewhat arcane distribution model that Diamond Comics uses, and points the budding creator to the guy who passes on your genius to the folks who decide whether Diamond offers your work in its monthly catalog, Previews or not. Advanced students will note the address and send lavish gifts along with a copy of their comic.

I talk about the importance of branding your comic; I talk about writing effective press releases and show an example. I even wrote a little love letter to every comic book creator's pal, the retailer.

Really, if you want to do comics, the whole thing is laid out for you right here. No secret handshakes, no passwords to learn, no sucking up to "the right people."

I explain the philosophy of getting the work done in general and the philosophical underpinnings of my company in particular. I even showed the skeleton of the AiT/Planet Lar business plan, with all of those pesky numbers removed.

As a bonus, I even tell you what your comics are really worth.

Looking back on these, there's some good info there. Wouldn't change a word of it.

But it reminds me that the Internet is really quite a stunningly valuable resource. Had I had access to this kind of information fifteen years ago, you'd be reading LARRY YOUNG PRESENTS CAPTAIN AMERICA right now…

…and I'm very curious indeed to see what the new kids in comics do with their nearly unrestricted access to the information that the Internet provides.

Pancakes for everyone in ten minutes, or I'll destroy this diner and larry@comicbookresources.com

[Foot Soldiers 2]Jim (Earth X) Krueger, Phil (Green Arrow) Hester, and industry legend Bill Sienkiewicz' The Foot Soldiers Volume Two has been sent to Quebecor, and will be in shops September 26th. Make sure your retailer has ordered JUL011794.

The Loose Cannon Message Board is open and ready for business. Like the knight says, "Ask your questions; I am not afraid."

Come and revel in the brilliance that is award-winning author Warren Ellis, who will be making his only U. S. personal appearance this year at Comic Relief, on September 8th from 3 pm – 6 pm. Hit the website for more info. Watch! as he drinks whisky. Laugh! as he meets Matt Fraction for the first time. Gasp! as he signs autographs while simultaneously bantering with his adoring peeps. Thrill! as he buys a copy of Sky Ape: "Okay. You finally did it. You broke me. I'm buying a copy of this bastard in SF next week," says Ellis.

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