Kurt Busiek & Steve Lieber’s ‘Thoughts On A Winter Morning’ Is A Perfect Digital Comic
Thoughts On A Winter Morning was released fairly quietly this week from the Monkeybrain digital comics collective. Very thoughtfully written by Kurt Busiek (Astro City, Superman: Secret Identity) and exquisitely drawn by Steve Lieber (Whiteout, Underground), the eight-page story is an autobiographical tale that finds its narrator reflecting upon the neighborhood where he grew up in light of the birth of his first child. I was taken aback not just by the uncommon quality of this little 99-cent comic book and how it spoke directly to my tastes, but by how well it suits the digital market in which it exists.
Firstly, as I said, Thoughts On A Winter Morning is really good. The best Busiek comics are those where you can sense the writer's deep personal investment with the material, like his Superman work with Stuart Immonen and Astro City with Brent Anderson. Busiek takes on a concept we're all familiar with, how big and special the world can seem through the eyes of a child, and how those perceptions can change with the passing of time. Lieber renders both modes with obvious sincerity and his typically considerable drafting skill. I think this is some of the best looking stuff Lieber has ever drawn. Also, there is a corgi.
Secondly, this is a complete story. I'm a trade-waiter by nature, and digital comics are so far largely devoted to serialization -- in many cases, to a kind of hyper-serialization where you get even fewer pages than a traditional print comic book. Consequently, I don't read many things digitally, at least not as they come out. But all I had to hear was that Busiek and Lieber had a new short story out and it was relatively little hassle to grab it off comiXology (I still think there are too many clicks to get to the comic you want to buy).
Thirdly, the 99-cent price. That's the amount iTunes has trained me to accept for "singles," which made following the link to Thoughts On A Winter Morning on comiXology a very easy decision. There's an ongoing debate as to how functional the 99-cent price point is for serialized comics, but it's a beautiful thing in this case.
Finally, as a longtime fan of both creators I was surprised to discover that Thoughts On A Winter Morning was originally published in 2005, as part of the old Negative Burn anthology. I had no idea this story existed before Monkeybrain reissued it. That this lost gem of a comic can now exist presumably in perpetuity in the cloud, and in such a way that offers Busiek and Lieber credit and compensation, is a great thing. Busiek tweeted that response has been great, particularly for a comic he never expected to get drawn, so that's lovely to see.
You can buy Thoughts On A Winter Morning for 99 cents at comiXology right now.