Hello, my name is Hervé St-Louis, publisher of ComicBookBin and creator of Johnny Bullet. This is the comicbookbin podcast recorded on January 22, 2016. This is the first podcast that we’ve recorded since 2012.
Today, I’ll be speaking to you without any of my compadres from the Bin. I want to talk mostly about Johnny Bullet!
I’m trying to make this podcast a regular thing again, but I didn’t ask anyone else to join. I’ve been meaning to record this exactly a month ago, so imagine the logistics involved in getting other participants to contribute!
Why a podcast on a survey about the Johnny Bullet web comic?
Well, if you have been visiting ComicBookBin in the last year, you’ll have noticed our new web comics. For years we were reviewing other people’s comics and not really doing contributing anything ourselves. It felt at times, for me like I was being a backseat driver and sometimes being very critical of other creators while not being held to the same standard.
But what standard is that, criticizing works of art does not force the critic to be himself an artist. Mostly, what I felt is that I could do better. I grew up drawing comics non-stop. Since I could write, I was always drawing my own comics. I used to have most of these old comics until the flood of 2013 when I lost all of my comic collection and all of my old comic and animation drawing.
So a year after the flood, I felt like I needed to rebuild my personal portfolio since I had nothing. Throughout the years at ComicBookBin, I was always working for my own animation studio Toon Doctor. So even though I had no comics output, I still did a lot of animation work. Well that changed in n2012 when I moved from Calgary, Canada to Toronto, where I am currently pursuing a PhD in the Faculty of Information.
I thought that I would have no time to draw anything. Surprisingly, finding time to draw Johnny Bullet has helped improve my time management and my research work!
I like t call Johnny Bullet my mid-life crisis where without any more personal portfolio, I had to start from scratch again. So when you see my work on Johnny Bullet, you might imagine a guy who has no choice but to draw a comic because his life depends on it. Working on Johnny Bullet has brought me a lot of balance and I cannot imagine not doing a comic regularly.
Now, I usually draw and post one page per week. That’s the max that dong a PhD will permit me for now!
My work at the university is somewhat related to comics but not too directly. I study human-computer interactions – how people use technology. I came to human-computer interaction through my love of storyboards which some of you may recognize as a form of sequential art, the art form behind comics.
Storyboards link animation and comics together, but they also link the work I was doing in Calgary as an app developer. If you have been a fan of the Bin for years, you’ll know about our many apps! In 2010, while working on my master’s thesis, I went nuts on apps creation and created many many apps, including three for ComicBookBin. Only the Android version can still be downloaded but one day, when time permits, I’ll go back to making more apps.
Making apps introduced me to human-computer interaction. I was captivated by mobile modes of interaction and used storyboards to make sense of this.
Johnny Bullet has been running at ComicBookBin and other web comics portals for over a year now. At the Bin, Leroy Douresseau launched Grumble at the same time as I launched Johnny Bullet. He has to stop because it’s a bit tough to finance a comic out of pocket when you are the writer.
Since’ve welomed Cody Stewart and Rafael Desquitado and their comic called Constant. Check it out!
We have a new comic by French cartoonist called Chag.
It’s a political gag strip featuring rats. Yeah, ComicBookBin is not shy to feature Multilanguage comics. Mostly, that’s because I’m a French Canadian – if you had not noticed yet. Johnny Bullet is published in French and English at the same time every week. When I create Johnny Bullet, I think of both versions at the same time. Neither is more authoritative than the other. They are the same, even if I change the expressions.
The scripts for Johnny Bullet which are already not really standard descriptive scripts are written in both English and French. They make no sense for anyone who cannot read both languages. Sometimes I think in French, sometimes in English. You might think that it’s weird but it’s part of the Johnny Bullet experience for me!
Today, I wanted to highlight the Johnny Bullet survey which I launched last month to know more about readers. Web comics readers are different than print or digital comics readers and I want to figure out how to best deliver Johnny Bullet to web, print and digital readers. Reader surveys are rare in comics but very valuable. Few people have answered the survey although many are curious about them. I wrote an article about my experience creating a survey for Johnny Bullet and it is the most popular page on the site, after the home page. It’s quite a feat since I didn’t promote the page very much.
If you can answer the survey, please do. I’d really appreciate the feedback and understanding readers. For years at the Bin, I’ve always advocated that creators and publishers need to understand readers and what motivates them to read comics. It’s the only way we’ll ever survive as an industry. Readers are the backbone of comics and I argue more important than creators. Without readers, there is one guy or one girl creating comics which only they read. That’s boring!
The Bin has been around since 2002, so I’ve written a lot about readers and marketing over the years. I still don’t consider myself a pro, but many people have enjoyed my series of articles on business plans for comics. I’d like to revisit some of these topics in future podcasts and see if I can share some of my insights about creating comics with other creators.
I think that I’ve said enough for today. I hope that you enjoyed this brief podcast.
This is Hervé St-Louis, publisher of ComicBookBin and creator of Johnny Bullet signing off!