literary divergents, music, graphic artist, film makers, nyc2123,
staggering statistics, jay bolotin, graphic novels, web media,
chad allen, paco allen,
NYC2123 creators, Chad + Paco Allen
semantikon: NYC2123 draws from a powerful tradition
of post-apocalyptic writings from the likes of William Gibson,
JG Ballard, George Orwell, Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, William
Burroughs just to name a few. First, what other comics/artists/musicians/writers
would you say have been inspirational to NYC2123 in terms of
both the storyline and the artwork? Second… why New York
Miller is the comparison that people most often make when
it comes to the illustrations, and I’m a huge, huge
fan of his, but I don’t really think the similarities
run very deep. I think a lot of people see a black and white
comic and they think “Frank Miller.” While Miller’s
work clearly sets the benchmark, there are tons of artists
out there working in black and white. The style of NYC2123
does owe a debt to Miller, but it’s much more photo-realistic
than his amazingly evocative art. In many ways Linklater’s
Waking Life was a big inspiration because it made me think
about the possibilities of combining live actors with original
Issue 1: "Dayender"
[3MB Adobe Acrobat File]
PDF of NYC2123 Issues #1 in PDF
draw from a powerful tradition of post-apocalyptic writings from
the likes of William Gibson, JG Ballard, George Orwell, Robert
Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, William Burroughs just to name a few.
First, what other comics/artists/musicians/writers would you
say have been inspirational to NYC2123 in terms of both the storyline
and the artwork? Second… why New York City?
Miller is the comparison that people
most often make when it comes to the
illustrations, and I’m a huge,
huge fan of his, but I don’t really
think the similarities run very deep.
I think a lot of people see a black and
white comic and they think “Frank
Miller.” While Miller’s work
clearly sets the benchmark, there are
tons of artists out there working in
black and white. The style of NYC2123
does owe a debt to Miller, but it’s
much more photo-realistic than his amazingly
evocative art. In many ways Linklater’s
Waking Life was a big inspiration because
it made me think about the possibilities
of combining live actors with original
Chad: In terms of writing,
clearly William Gibson is a huge influence,
as he is for anyone writing in this genre.
I would put Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash
up there at the top as well. Perhaps
not so obviously, I consider Bradbury,
Clarke, and Asimov as important sources
for NYC2123, primarily because they had
quirky and often quite plausible visions
of the near future. Film has also had
a big influence on the writing, most
notably works like BladeRunner and the
Mad Max series. As for the decision to
use New York as the setting: Probably
the biggest reason is that I live there,
and so it was easier for me to develop
an authentic sense of place than if it
were set, for example, in LA, which I
don’t know very well. Also the
departs from traditional comic publishing
in entirely new ways; viewers can read
the strip on your site nyc2123.com, the
work is creative commons licensed so
users can mash up and re-use the files
in any way they like as long as they
attribute the work, and, site users can
download edition files from your site
and enjoy the comic on the go with their
Sony PSP Players. What fueled the decision
to make this comic available for free,
for download, for sharing, only asking
that the site and nyc2123 name is attributed?
for starters, our primary goal was just to have people read
it. And if you’re a total unknown, then no one is going
to pay to read your stuff online. So giving it away for free
was a no-brainer. In the beginning, the Creative Commons license
was mostly curiosity: we wanted to see what people would do
with the work if it were available in the public domain. Since
ultimately we retain commercial rights, we don’t really
have anything to lose by releasing the source material under
a Creative Commons license.
Paco: And as it turns
out, we actually had a lot to gain by
using the CC license. It’s meant
that people have created translations
and mash-ups, which in turn has led to
wider readership for the work.
addition to the previous question, you have usurped traditional
methods of comic distribution networks altogether---what feedback
have you received from other comic creators about how you have
innovated in the web medium to deliver NYC2123 with complete
be honest, I don’t think of what we’ve done in
terms of distribution as all that innovative. I think the
content is good, but just check out onlinecomics.net and
you’ll see that almost everyone with a scanner or a
digital tablet is publishing a comic book online for free.
As for feedback: we haven’t really talked to a lot
of other comic book creators. I’m not really sure we’re
on the radar screen for people working in print, and there
is no solid community of online comic book artists as far
as I can tell – if there is, we have been invited to
join the club.
receive tons of feedback from readers, and we’re in touch
with some other folks who are currently working on comics for
the PSP, but as Chad said, for whatever reason we haven’t
had a lot of contact with other comic book writers.
semantikon: Given the opportunity, what would be your
first choice to translate NYC2123 to another medium such as television
or film and why?
Chad: Film, because
we’re movie freaks.
Paco: A book would be
cool too. I think there’s also
some material in there for a great video
far, you have delivered NYC2123 for free
to visitors through the site with incredible
resourcefulness. What has been your experience
in producing NYC2123 in terms of costs,
time spent, pr campaigns, advertising
and distribution? With each of you in
different parts of the country, both
with full time jobs, how do you make
terms of hard costs, it’s basically just web hosting.
We haven’t spent no money on PR or advertising – all
of our traffic has been word-of-mouth spread primarily by blogs
and sites like this one. The main cost is just the massive
number of hours we put into each issue.
Chad: It’s way
more work than I thought it would be.
We spend all of our spare time working
make NYC2123 available for download actively encouraging those
who can translate, to make each edition available in their
mother tongue. It is a well accepted fact that many of the
limitations of online publishing are related to language barriers,
how have you seen NYC2123 audience proliferate as a result
of encouraging translations you would not be able to do yourself?
Chad: That’s a
really hard question to answer. The translations
with larger audiences (like German) are
hosted on other people’s websites,
so we don’t have any hard data
on how much traffic those versions get.
Paco: We’re collaborating
with some folks on a Japanese translation
right now, and given the PSP user base
in Japan, we’re thinking that we’ll
probably see a pretty big jump in overall
readership from that market alone.
the artwork of NYC2123 you draw both
from your imagination, and literally,
from photos of human figures which you
then trace over, discarding visual information
not needed for the scene. At first, this
seems an arduous process, but somehow,
you’ve got a flow established.
Would you discuss briefly for our audience,
how each edition comes about. The storyline,
photoshoot planning, the models, the
illustration process and delivery to
it’s definitely still an arduous process. We’ve
made improvements to the process as we go along, and the artwork
has become more consistent as I’ve developed a clearer
sense of how to combine photos and illustrations. There are
some pretty good samples of how I create the art on our blog,
including a Quicktime movie of me illustrating one of the frames.
For starters, the process is 100% digital from beginning to
end. Basically what happens is this: Chad writes the manuscript
in a format that looks more or less like a screenplay, which
is a common way for comic writers to work. We review the manuscript
and refine dialogue and minor plot issues together. The next
step is for me to draw storyboards for the issue; basically
rough digital sketches of each frame. These get sent back and
forth between me and Chad until we’re both comfortable
with the layout. Then I go around and take digital photos of
all of the actors, both the main characters and any “extras” we
need for that issue. Sometimes I’m able to do this with
all of the actors for each scene in one room, but often I’m
shooting them separately. At that point the real work begins:
Illustrating over the character photos, adding costumes, buildings,
cars, guns and everything else you see that isn’t a person.
This is done primarily in Flash, along with Illustrator and
Photoshop. Again we both look at the issue as things move along
to exchange ideas and make sure things are shaping up to meet
our expectations. Eventually things get to a close-to-final
version, and the last step is to go back and check continuity
and do a final copy-edit. Once the issue is complete, we just
upload the various versions (PSP download, PSP website and
plain vanilla web) and send out an e-mail to the fans who have
joined our mailing list.
Submitted by NYC2123 fans for semantikon.com interview:
any of the characters based on people in your real lives,
or yourselves? Who and to what degree?
always say that their characters are composites of real people
they know and I think to some extent that’s always
true. You have to know what people are like in order to write
about them. But I think it’s less true in genres like
this one, where the characters are more archetypal and dramatic.
For example, I don’t really know anyone like Julius.
I guess I do know some people like Jake.
a visual sense, however, all of the characters are based
on real people in a very literal sense, since there are actors
who serve as the starting point for the digital illustrations.
was the first inspiration for NYC2123?
had already written a short story that basically became issues
1 and 3 of Dayender. I wasn’t really doing anything
with it, it was just a story I had written for a writing
workshop that I was in with some of my friends. When Paco
started talking about doing a graphic novel his general ideas
about themes and setting matched up with that short story,
so we decided to take it as a starting point.
Could you discuss what scenarios you present which you believe as a
don’t think there are any groundbreaking predictions
in NYC2123. If there’s an idea we’ve tried to
emphasize that we see as an actual trend, it’s the
growing tension between the individual and the corporate-run
state. On the one hand, the world will become more interesting
and diverse as bio-technology advances and people are able
to literally change their physical selves through genetic
manipulation and cybernetic implants. On the other hand,
we see a huge shift towards cultural homogenization – we
take this to the extreme in NYC2123 by suggesting that in
the future Wal*Mart, Starbucks and Microsoft will own everything
on the planet, and governments will be reduced to mouth-pieces
for corporate interests (if they haven’t been already).
Do either of you smoke? Marlboros?
don’t smoke. It’s very bad for you.
Chad: I’ll start
smoking when cigarettes have hash in
What are your favorite comics?
started out as Marvel reader growing up and was a huge Spiderman
fan, and in high school I was a big Todd McFarlane fan. I
found Frank Miller through the Dark Knight series. In the
last few years I’ve read a lot of Mike Mignola's stuff.
The coolest thing I’ve read lately is Batman: Black
read comics that are nothing like NYC2123. Daniel Clowes
is awesome. I also really like Paul Hornschemeier. If you
can find a copy of “I know god smiles on these good
times” you should buy it.
Could you tell us about your inking style? Why so sparse?
to clarify, there’s no “inking” in the
traditional sense. The whole thing is produced digitally.
As for the sparseness, I was looking to do something with
a chiaroscuro look, which emphasizes dramatic highlights
and shadows, and fewer mid-tones. This is a technique borrowed
from painting that I’ve always liked, and I thought
it would work well with the subject matter.
What’s your favorite Heinlein novel?
is going to sound horrible. We haven’t read any of
Have you ever considered writing sci-fi novels?
written a few sci-fi short stories. The one that Dayender
is based on got turned down for publication in a couple of
big short story magazines that shall remain nameless. A novel
is a lot of work. I’m trying to work up the energy
to do it. No guarantees that it will be sci-fi.
Do either of you have any background in the sciences or medicine? how
do you seem to have such a good handle on all the terminology?
have a degree in fine arts and Chad has a degree in philosophy.
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