Modern Tales, the leading publisher of subscription-based webcomics, announced today that the comic strip “The Bizarre Life of Charlie Red Eye,” by Perth, Western Australia’s Edward J. Grug III and Matthew William Boyd Langfield, Esq., will be joining the line-up of its flagship online anthology ModernTales.com. Joey Manley, Editor and Publisher of Modern Tales, selected this strip after sifting through more than 200 entries submitted as part of a rare open call for new comics on the site. “We usually recruit by private solicitation,” said Manley.
“But every now and then, it’s important to open the doors to new faces and voices.” Manley said that submissions of new comics are not currently being accepted at Modern Tales. “We’ll make an announcement on our homepage any time we’re looking for something, and we’ll give a very specific date range during which we’re willing to look at submissions, just like we did this time. Once the decision has been made, it’s final.”
Modern Tales, which publishes a total of seven subscription-based webcomics sites, most appealing to different niche audiences, has always touted its flagship site ModernTales.com as its “new mainstream” offering. The Bizarre Life of Charlie Red Eye, the light-hearted tale of an elementary school kid with an enormous, bulging, probably demonic eyeball, does not conform to most people’s idea of “mainstream” comics. “This isn’t Peanuts,” said Manley, “and it definitely isn’t X-Men or The Incredible Hulk. When you’re talking about the web, you’re talking about a new kind of mass audience — one that’s accustomed to freer, stranger expression that it can find in any other medium. When we say ‘new mainstream,’ that’s part of what we’re talking about. ‘Charlie Red Eye’ has the potential to become a major cult hit on the web, in the same way that, say, Joe Cartoon’s Gerbil in a Microwave, or those stick-figure kung-fu fighters, rapidly reached worldwide audiences, and made tamer, corporate offerings look pale in comparison.”
Manley added that some of the most popular webcomics on Modern Tales, such as James Kochalka’s Fancy Froglin and Jason Shiga’s Eisner-nominated Fleep, have been dropped by the newspapers which originally carried them. “And yet they are incredibly popular on Modern Tales –probably more popular than they were in print. Mainstream doesn’t have to be tame, or safe, or stupid,” said Manley. “Modern Tales, and ‘Charlie Red Eye,’ prove that the new mainstream can be bizarre, twisted, funny,
“The Bizarre Life of Charlie Red Eye is actually a biographical portrayal of my childhood growing up in Australia,” elaborates Matthew William Boyd Langfield Esq., co creator of Charlie Red Eye, “Except for all of the interesting stuff. That stuff never happened. We added that so that it wouldn’t be mind-numbingly dull. Or less so, anyway. Really we just wanted to do something truly unusual, something surreal, but not pretentious. Something that even folks whose only real contact with comics is through the Sunday funnies could still dig. It’s just meant to be fun, so what more could you want?”
Why Modern Tales? “Well that’s a no-brainer,” Edward J Grug III, co-creator of “The Bizarre Life of Charlie Red Eye,” says, “They’re the premier web comic publishing company around. Modern Tales publish some of the biggest names around, and only the highest quality strips. With a broad range of genres, they make comics accessible to everyone, rather than a select few, which is something the print industry isn’t really doing very well right now. Webcomics as an industry really is a viable option, and it just took companies like Modern Tales to prove it.”
“Charlie Red Eye” debuts on Modern Tales Monday, April 28, 2003. The latest installment of most Modern Tales comics is always free for all. “The idea is that you can follow the strips without paying, if you visit the site every day,” said Manley. “Just like following a strip in your local alternative newsweekly. But if you want to read the entire archives of every strip to date, you have to subscribe.” There are currently more than 4000 pages of comics available to subscribers only in the Modern Tales archive.