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Evolution Comics Takes the Plunge

Evolution Comics' second volume just hit the Internet. The online anthology of comics features new work from both upcoming and well-known artists, including the site's creators, Dan Carroll and Rachel Swift.

Carroll, who works for the University of Chicago Press in subscriptions, handles the main editorial duties. He also draws Mysterious Void. Swift, who's a site developer at the university, manages the web site itself. They both contributed to the latest volume of Evolution Comics, just recently released.

Evolution Comics' second volume just hit the Internet. The online anthology of comics features new work from both upcoming and well-known artists, including the site's creators, Dan Carroll and Rachel Swift. Carroll, who works for the University of Chicago Press in subscriptions, handles the main editorial duties. He also draws Mysterious Void. Swift, who's a site developer at the university, manages the web site itself. They both contributed to the latest volume of Evolution Comics, just recently released.

 

What inspired evolution comics?

Dan Carroll: A couple of things. For starters, it seemed like the time. Modern Tales had just started up when we began things, and people actually seemed to be paying for it. (Gasp!) Also, at the time there was no real venue for selling self-contained (as opposed to serialized) stories on the internet. (This was before Longplay was announced, keep in mind.)

 

How did you decide to go with a volume format?

Rachel Swift: We thought it would be easier for everyone concerned. The reader purchases a single product at a time, instead of committing to a year's subscription. The contributors get paid on a regular schedule, and have set deadlines to adhere to. In theory.

 

How is it working so far?

DC: So far that's a little hard to say, as we're just now approaching volume II. Although it's definitely helping us to budget our time, and to make sure everything is perfect before an issue is released.

RS: I like that everyone is working toward the same deadline; it makes maintaining the site a lot simpler. On the other hand, I think people are more easily able to justify purchasing ongoing access to a site they'll visit again and again then they are buying a "product" in which nothing tangible changes hands. So it solves some problems, while presenting challenges.

 

How are sales going, if you don't mind?

RS: Well, we're not putting Marvel out of business yet. But our sales are steadily climbing.

DC: I think, as it's become clear that we're not going to fold in a month, more people are referring us to their friends.

 

How do you see yourself fitting in the scene with Modern Tales, Keenspot Premium and sites like Unbound Comics?

DC: I think we're all kind of occupying different niches within webcomics. Moderntales and Keenspot presented viable venues to collect, promote, and (the big one) sell serialized webcomics. Unbound, I see [it] as kind of a nice bridge between print and digital, offering online versions of existing print comics. We are a venue for original, self-contained stories.

RS: Webcomics are a very new medium, and I think all of us are trying to explore different means of distribution. We all have the same goals: to connect good cartoonists with people who like good comics while allowing the creator to support him or herself doing what he or she loves.

 

How did you decide to get into the business?

DC: Well... we love comics. There seemed to be a market for webcomics, and we thought "by gum, we can do it as good as anybody!"  We'd been wanting to enter self-publishing for awhile, and webcomics presented a lower start-up cost, with what's steadily shaping up to be a more exciting arena. There's no dealing with distributors or retailers and there's no established fan-base locked into one genre.

RS: I'd recently finished Scott Mccloud's Reinventing Comics, and decided to join the cult. Seriously, it's exciting to be part of this new medium, where conventions are still developing, and people are really passionate about what they do. Our writers and artists are some of the most inspired, energetic and talented people i've ever encountered.

 

How did you get into comics?

DC: Well... at one point I was an eight-year-old boy. Therefore, I read comics. My friend Dave had a huge stack of Batmans, and I read them when I was over his house. They were okay, and it was something to do. Eventually I got hold of an issue of Fantastic Four (which, in later years, I learned was by Walt Simonson,) and flipped out. I never quite recovered.

RS: My story is much more embarrassing. I can still recite the entire Summers family tree. 'Nuff said.

 

Don't worry - I read Xmen too. How about webcomics?

DC: As Rachel said earlier, I think Reinventing Comics was the kick-off point. After reading it we got into Morning Improv, and eventually followed one of the links on his webpage (When I am King). That's the fun thing about the internet. One link leads to another, and before you know it you're reading twelve comics every morning and your boss is yelling at you.

 

Is the site at least paying for hosting so far?

RS: We've covered hosting, and had some left over for our creators' royalties. Hopefully, Evolution will make us millionaires. Then we can sip cocktails all day, and pay people to dance for us.

 

What comics (online and print) do you read?

DC: Hoof... got a few minutes? In print I read fewer monthlies all the time, but find myself popping trades and OGNs like they\'re candy. The last really good ones I read were "Chester Square" by Jaime Hernandez, and "Phoenix" by Osamu Tezuka. Online, I hit Sinfest, Checkerboard Nightmare, Modern Tales and Bob the Angry Flower every time they're updated.

RS: I've been reading The Filth, New X-Men, (yes, i worship the ground Grant Morrison walks on), and X-Statix monthly. I've got to admit that I'm really enjoying Marvel's ultimate line, but i'm buying the trades. Recent favorites include David Mazzuchelli's adaption of Paul Auster's City of Glass, and Cages by Dave McKean.

 

Do you believe that rumor of the person who reads 100 webcomics a day?

DC: If his day job is as boring as mine? YEAH. I believe it. It's not like they're not out there. Throw a digital rock, and you'll hit a webcartoonist.