LA Times Intern, TJ Kosinski and I spoke about Ultra-lad! and Act-i-vate while in San Diego. To see the whole piece at La Times' Hero Complex blog, click here. Below is an excerpt of the story (with minor edits for accuracy):
ACT-I-VATE IS MAKING DYNAMIC WEBCOMICS!
T.J. Kosinski, one of our talented interns this summer here at The Times, wandered around Comic-Con International a few weeks ago and interviewed some of his favorite comics creators. Here is his third guest post.
Like the undergound comix scene in those roiling days of the 1960s, the burgeoning online comics sector is a wide-open frontier now making up its own rules and picking its leading voices. I'd say one of the strongest players at the moment is Act-I-Vate, the webcomics collective with about 30 creators on its roster. It's both smart showcase and wild laboratory, providing consistently updated (and thoroughly interesting) comics to readers across the Web for free.
Two of the member creators are Joe Infurnari and Molly Crabapple. Infurnari is a writer and artist who values the benefits of creating comics strictly for the Web: “Going digital is great to get yourself to a wide audience. If I write something, [someone] can place a link to it on MySpace and it gets 60,000 hits. That sort of exposure can’t be done by handing out postcards or just talking to people.”
Infurnari is working on his latest webcomic, "The Transmigration of ULTRA-Lad!" It's a reverse-Shazam sort of story in which an old man transforms into a [superpowered toddler]. The aesthetic of the webcomic is great. The story is told on "pages" that have the browning, battered edges of a vintage comic book (one that was not stored in a Mylar bag) and the art is a shadowy valentine to super-hero artists such as Mac Raboy and Wally Wood. Infurnari also has The Process, which had been nominated for an Eisner Award.
One interesting dimension of Infurnari’s The Process is how tailored it feels to the Web. The website that hosts the comic is meticulous; even the table of contents is intricate. Infurnari took this approach seeking “an interactive experience.” He explained that “with the Web, I can control how the audience absorbs material. The whole thing is an immersive design. My goal is to teleport the viewer into the world of the story.”
Readers should check out The Process, not only for the tremendously detailed artwork, but for Infurnari’s surreal narrative. It’s self-described as “a journey and exploration through a personal ‘pleroma,’ an imaginary landscape populated by strange, wondrous creatures and archetypal characters." The Eisner nomination for Best Digital Comic speaks to the ability of Infurnari to relay his strange inner visions to a wide audience.
Thanks for this, TJ! Great work!