I recently had the pleasure of getting the chance to chat with Ryan Fisher, the creator and coordinator of a new kind of Comic Con, called DigiCon. Known for his work on the hilarious webcomic Gin and Comics, Fisher took the time out of his day to discuss with me his beginnings into the realm of comic books, how he began his career as a webcomicker and just what DigiCon is all about.
First thing I wanted to know is what got you into comics?
Well, two things really, the first being that since I was around 3 years old, I’ve love the TMNT. I couldn’t get enough of that stuff growing up. I had the merch, the clothes, I never missed an episode etc etc. Once my uncle who was a mailman got wind of this he gave me some old issues of Spider-Man he had laying around. (This is back when you still got comics in the mail.) They were mostly Maximum Carnage stuff, but I loved the hell out of it. From there it was Jim Lee’s X-Men run and once I found the TMNT comics, it was all she wrote from there.
Haha. Believe me, I get it. I have the TMNT tats and office covered in Turtle art to prove it.
So in addition to that, who were/are some of your favorite creators? Do you tend to follow writers of artists more?
Some of my favorite creators are, Stan Sakai, Mike Mignola, of course I’m a sucker for the old Kirby stuff, I think Frank Miller‘s writing is great (never been a fan of his art though). Lately I’ve been in love with Skottie Young and Ryan Stegman‘s work as well as the writing of the fantastic Gail Simone and Dan Slott.
As far as do I follow artists or writers more… I would say there are a select few from each camp that just seeing their name on a book means I’ll check it out, but generally I’m more character loyal then anything.
What inspired you to begin webcomicking? Where does the influence for Gin and Comics come from?
I started the webcomic because as much as I love comic books (and believe me, I do love those suckers) I love cartoons just as much. Since I was a kid I remember rushing out to the living room every morning to read Peanuts, Garfield, Dilbert and of course, Calvin and Hobbes in the paper. My passion for them never really weened when I got older. Combine that with the fact that I love to make people laugh, I suppose it was only a matter of time before fate took over and I was working on a strip. My biggest cartoon influences begin where many of my webcomic brothern did, Penny Arcade. Too much in my case. When I go back and look at some of my earliest work it sometimes feels like I was trying to write THEIR comics and not my own, but that’s beside the point. The other cartoonists whose work I adore and I’m always looking to learn from are Scott Kurtz of PvP, Dave Kellet of Sheldon. Of course Watterson and Jim Davis as well as Lar Desouza.
Tell me about DigiCon. Where did the concept for DigiCon come from?
It all started the Wednesday before SDCC. Sadly I wasn’t there… so naturally I was glued to my Twitter and Facebook streams reading about the people that WERE there. I’ve tried to go to that show every year for the past 5 years and I’ve just never had the cash to pull it off. Factor that in with the disappointment that my big show up here in Seattle, the ECCC, had filled up literally two days before I’d have the cash to register for a table. Which really hurt because I’d planned my whole year around attending that show. So you factor those disappointments together and in the middle of my moping session, I got to wondering if there wasn’t something the rest of us could do. Lo’ and behold the online comic convention came to mind and DigiCon was suddenly a thing. Remarkably, Casey, my girlfriend, was able to get the coding done for DigiCon beta in just 3 days, so we had a test run going on during the weekend of SDCC. When that turned out to be so much fun I scheduled this show for September 10th-11th.
It’s certainly an awesome idea. I’m pretty much in the same boat as you, not having the funds to get to the larger cons, so knowing that something is out there for people like me is so refreshing.
That seems to be the number one thing I hear once people learn about the show.
Honestly, it’s the panels. If you’ve been to a standard convention you know how frustrating it can be to have to pick and choose what panels you want to go to and plan your day around those. With DigiCon, all panels will be recorded and then available for download free of charge year round, so none of that great info goes missed. I think that’s the biggest innovation we’ve come up with here. And that reminds me, there is one thing I want to point out. I DON’T think of DigiCon as an alternative to the traditional comic convention. I love cons; I never want to see those things fade. In reality I’d like to think that DigiCon is more of a supplement to the con experience, so everyone, even those that can’t afford to travel, or may have things preventing them from going, i.e. day jobs, kids, etc can still get in on some of the experience.
Is there anything that you want to add to future DigiCons that you weren’t able to this time around?
There is, in fact. We are trying to arrange it so each artist will have the ability to have a dedicated channel for themeselves, as well as a communal arena. That way, they can talk about commissions or if a fan really wants some one-on-one time with a creator, they get a chance to do it. Another thing that I’m not sure whether or not we can get in time for this show is a partnership with my good friends over at Comic Collector Live. What I want to do with that is give fans at DigiCon access to the thousands of cheap comics available for sale over there. Just like the $1 and quarter bins at cons.
Who would be your dream collaborator? Either artist or writer. Or both, even.
Collaborator as far as working on a comic together, or dream partner/guest for the show?
Either. I meant the question as working on a comic or strip but I wouldn’t mind hearing your answer for both.
Well, as far as working on a comic, it would be an absolute dream come true to do anything with the TMNT, whether that involves working with the likes of Eastman, Lawson, Ryan Brown or whoever. Also, I would kill for a chance to do a Gutters strip for Ryan Sohmer or anything where I can work with Lar DeSouza.
As far as a guest for the con goes, I would love to see some of the print talent come out for it as well. Maybe it could be a cool avenue for some of the talent that is getting up there in the years and it’s harder for them to travel. People like the great Herb Trimpe. When it comes to current talent that I’d love to see there, I think someone like a Warren Ellis or any other number of incredibly talented people that don’t live in the states would be a fantastic addition to the show. So much of their fanbase really doesn’t get a chance to meet them and I’d like to see this become a sort of bridge to do just that.
I just have a couple of fun questions left.
Have at her.
In Gin and Comics, you reference Gummi Bears, Ducktales, and Darkwing Duck. Which is your favorite Disney Afternoon show?
Yes! Bonkers! He came in late in the game but that was an awesome show.
The fact that he came in late and it was short run is probably the only reason for the “honorable mention” status.
I get that completely. So, what are your thoughts about the DC reboot?
Man, this kills me to say it, but as a comic fan my reaction is meh. I mean, sure, Jim Lee on Justice League was fun but I think of some of the great stuff that was killed off and I just don’t think it’s worth it. Losing Birds of Prey and Secret Six for another set of number ones just doesn’t do it for me. Do I get the idea of wanting to mix things up? Sure, but this feels far more gimmick then anything else. I mean, my girlfriend is someone that is only getting into comics just recently so I see the appeal of having someone like that walking into a shop knowing they can pick up anything off the shelf and it will make sense, I do get that. But I feel that’s what things like the Ultimates line are for.
Then again, I could just be crusty and hate seeing the things I’ve loved for ever change, as stupid as they may be. (I want Superman in the red briefs dammit!)
Haha! Just one last question…Did you really never watch Thundercats during the 80’s? (I mean, how does something like that happen?)
Haha. No I didn’t. And something like that happens for one simple reason. My parents only had antenna for quite awhile and from there only the basic package. It just simply wasn’t a channel I got. So I never watched that, or Voltron.
Ah, got it. The “no cable” defense.
Defense nothing, I was poor, man!
Be sure to head over to DigiCon on September 10th and 11th for your chance to meet some cool writers and artists. Attendees will have the chance to participate in live-chats with creators, watch live-sketch video of their favorite artists, and even purchase cool swag like original sketches, books, and t-shirts through a massive, cross-site web store. Fisher plans to put out multiple DigiCons per year, which gives creators and fans multiple chances to take part in the event. As mentioned above, there are also new features planned for the future, promising big things for DigiCon and giving attendees the greatest experience possible. I’m excited for DigiCon and have high expectations of its future success.
Also, be sure to check out Fisher’s Gin And Comics, a slice-of-life comic about three sci-fi obsessed geeks and just how their love of comic books, video games, and Star Wars affects their lives.