Panel Syndicate is alive and kicking

I’ve mentioned my love of Panel Syndicate before, on this blog as well as on the Unreliable Narrators podcast. It bears repeating, as the brainchild of comics legend Marcos Martin continues to produce great stuff.

Admittedly started as a grand experiment, the site began as a delivery system for Martin and Brian K. Vaughan’s limited series, The Private Eye. That series was great, but I remained skeptical that PS could continue to make the pay-what-you-want, DRM-free model work once that series ended. Happily, both Martin and Vaughan are back with Barrier, another great series that began late last year. In the interim, they began releasing Universe!, a book that introduced U.S. audiences to the work of Spanish cartoonist Albert Monteys. We’re still waiting on word of the PS exclusive release of a Walking Dead story from Robert Kirkman, but their deal with Image has only increased their profile.

The Panel Syndicate model is what separates it from other online comics platforms like Comixology and Thrillbent. Creator-owned comics are offered on a “name your price” basis in a wide variety of DRM-free file formats (PDF. CBR, CBZ). Even better, these digital-only comics are fully formatted for horizontal display; no awkward scans of narrow print pages, or clumsy panel-follow animations required!

To be fair, digital comics have seen improvement on the mainstream front. Image now offers DRM-free downloads in its online store, and even Comixology has begun offering file downloads from Image and other publishers. Only Panel Syndicate, however, manages all of the above-mentioned advantages of the print-free revolution. May they continue to grow and to influence other creators in this direction.

Class of the Titans

Just received word of this interesting post by Eisner winner Mark Waid (whose current Daredevil run is one of the only interesting things happening at Marvel these days).  He and a number of other comics pros, including Brian K. Vaughan, Scott Snyder, Matt Fraction, Brian Bendis and Gail Simone) are participating in an online course called “Gender Through Comic Books.'” It’s available on Canvas as a free course, and features interactive interviews taking questions via Twitter.

I’m in. Sounds like quite a bit of fun. And it also sounds like a decent follow-up to Lynne M. Thomas and Sigrid Ellis’ Chicks Dig Comics anthology, which is also well worth a read.

The valiant also die!

Avengers #44

Welcome to the wonderful world of Marvel madness!

I recently ran across a thumbnail of one of my all-time favorite comic book covers: Avengers #44 from September 1967. John Buscema manages to distill the essence of Silver Age fun on a blank white background.  Bodies are flying every which way, but also create a flow of movement in a spiral around our hapless heroes.  I also love that the usual story-specific blurbs are replaced by a single, generic message: “Welcome to the wonderful world of Marvel madness!”  It’s as if Stan and Co. gave up on any attempt to encapsulate the chaos. And really, what more encouragement does one need?