Like other media, comic books have had to deal with the paradigm shift of the Web. Comic book artists that were previously limited to just ink on paper, now can use a wide variety of technologies to show the world their work. Just like the Internet has given independent musicians an alternative to record labels, the independent comic book artist can reach audiences like never before.
Tucked away in South Philly are two members of the city’s booming comic book scene, John Zito and Tony Trovarello who are riding the new wave of comic distribution. The two have been using the Web to publish Black Cherry Bombshells, a comic about a post-apocalyptic world where all of the men have been turned into zombies leaving the women to fend for themselves.
What sounds like a description of last week’s South by Southwest festival, is actually a entertaining read full of everything a comic fan for ask for: “gratuitous” violence, zombies and women who could take you in a bar fight. Technically Philly sat down with John and Tony to talk about the city’s comic book scene, the Web’s effect on comic books, and who played Lynne Abraham in their Ed Rendell musical.
Who are you guys and what are your roles on the Black Cherry Bombshells?
Tony: I’m Tony Trov, and he’s Johnny Zito, South Philly residence. Together we write the Black Cherry Bombshells.
John: The Bombshells is a Web comic on DC’s digital imprint, Zuda. You can read it for free at Black Cherry Bombshells. The comic is about a world in which all the men have been turned into flesh eating zombies and women band together in ultra violent gangs to survive in post apocalyptic Las Vegas. The BlackCherry Bombshells are an up and coming gang of bootleggers. Regina is their leader. Megan, the ex-magician, is their newest recruit. There’s lots of twists and turns along the way.
Is it available in paper form? Or only online?
Tony: It will be available as a collected grapgic novel next holloween-ish.
So, for now, strictly Internet distribution. What do you guys think are the advantages and disadvantages to that?
John: The Internet is the future. Magazine and newspapers are shutting down everyday. But I’m on CNN.com like a fiend.
Tony: Also, floppy comics are dying. Embrace the Web.
John: I think we are part of a new model of distribution: find an audience online and collectors will follow you to Borders.
Tony: The iPhone comic apps are awesome too.
I’ll admit, usually when I read comics I stole them from my older brother. Reading yours was the first time I read one online.
Tony: Exactly but you probably saw the Dark Knight. Franchise!
John: So the Internet becomes R&D for something bigger. The freedom and smaller overhead allows for experimentation.
You alluded before that newspapers and magazines are getting hammered by the Web. Do you think comics are in the same boat?
John: Comics, like usual, are ahead of the curve. DC is adapting to the Web, and other publishers are following. The editorial cartoons are all syndicating online too.
Tony: But one will never fully replace the other. Bands still print vinyl records while releasing mp3s.
John: All of these things will coexist. And thanks to Amazon, iTunes and eBay you can get the Watchmen as a hardback book, Web comic, DVD motion comic, several different cuts of DVD, and I’m sure there’s a novelization around. Franchise.
Is that what you guys plan down the road?
John: We should be so lucky.
So, to change gears, how is the comic scene in Philadelphia?
John: Booming. There’s a thriving cartoonist scene. Lots of art and indie projects. The Philly Cartoonists Society is full of talented sequential artists. There’s always events too.
How are you guys and other comics using the Internet for promotion?
John: We’re on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter (Tony|John). We’re always looking to make new friends. It’s great to meet people with similar interests. Social Networking has a wide reach and makes it possible for those people to get in touch.
Tony: But most people know us from our hit show: “Ed Rendell: The Musical”
John: I played Lynne Abraham.
And finally, What makes you Technically Philly?
John: You mean some historical factoid you woudln’t know unless you lived here?
No, I mean, what are your ties to the area? Although an historical factoid would be appretiated.
Tony: We’re townies. Born and raised, and both went to Temple U.
John: I’m from East Passyunk Ave. Trov is from the other side of Snyder.
Tony: And I’m listening to Motown Philly as I type this.
John: And uh, an historical factoid?
I know you have one, don’t hold out.
John: Poe wrote the first dectective story EVER while living in Philly. Murders at The Rouge Morgue. Take that Baltimore.
Nice, you win.
John: Philly wins.
Every Friday, Technically Philly brings an interview with a leader or innovator in Philadelphia’s technology community. See others here.