Zander Cannon On Going Digital With ‘Double Barrel’ [SDCC]
When comic book creators Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon jumped into digital publishing, they went big: Double Barrel #1 clocked in at 122 pages of content for less than two dollars, going monthly with a story by each, plus bonus features and extra strips. It was a bold move, especially considering that Zander Cannon was an established artist already well-known for his work with Alan Moore on Top Ten.
I spoke to Zander at San Diego Comic-Con about his approach to digital, why he launched with such a huge book, and where he plans to take Double Barrel after his and Kevin’s stories are done.ComicsAlliance: It’s always interesting to see when established creators choose to go digital. For a lot of new creators, they’re attracted to it because of the low cost entry point, it’s a lot easier to get a digital project off the ground than to go with print. But you’ve worked with Alan Moore, you’ve done a lot of comics. What was it that attracted you to digital?
Zander Cannon: A lot of it’s the same thing. It’s easy to get something off the ground, and it’s easy to do something without having to justify it to people. You don’t have to say “this is the high concept, this is the log line.” You can just say “this is a story I wanted to tell and here it is.”
The very practical impetus of it was that Kevin had done Crater XV and I had done Heck, we’d finished the books at the same time. We talked to Top Shelf, and they said they’d publish it, but they couldn’t put it on the schedule for another year or 18 months. So we said, let’s try this. I’ve always thought that digital media sort of breaks down at $2 an hour. You download an episode of Breaking Bad, it’s $2, you download a book, it’s about $10. You listen to an album a few times so that skews it, but I feel that comics are generally too expensive. So we have all this material, let’s try it out and see if it’s real. Let’s throw some content at it and see what comes out.
CA: What’s the response been?
ZC: Well, we don’t know the monetary response yet, but people have been very excited about it and open to it. We’ve gotten a lot of good press, and we’ve gotten as much press for our approach to the digital economic model as for our content, which you could take either way I suppose. But it’s been really great. It’s very satisfying for me, that people are getting into it for the sheer volume of it.
It’s 122 pages for the first issue, 100 for the second, and the third one, which hasn’t come out yet, is 113. We thought they were going to scale back as we went along, but there’s so much extra material. I told someone earlier that it’s kind of a black hole of content, where it’s like I’ve got the extra stuff and I’m like “I could publish it here… eh, I’ll just put it in Double Barrel, pump up the page count a little bit.”
CA: That’s a really big investment for you as a creator. That kind of page count, especially with the schedule of it being a monthly book.
ZC: That’s why this level of commitment from me and Kevin is finite. We’re doing twelve issues and that’s going to complete these stories. Then I’m going to do more Replacement God, which is my previous comic, and Kevin’s going to do some other work, but we’re going to bring in some other creators. We’ll still be the editors and we’ll still do the introduction cartoons and backup stories, but there’s going to be some other main features that run through there.
CA: So while your stuff has a finite ending, is this something you can see yourself doing indefinitely?
ZC: Yes, it’s really one of those things where it’s like, it’s the book that is our book. It has a theme and that’s “indie pulp,” pulp fiction in an indie style, but basically that’s all the stuff that I ever do, so it makes me happy to have every project that I ever thought “maybe I should pitch that to Oni, maybe I should pitch that to Top Shelf,” Double Barrel is where it belongs.
CA: You talked about “indie pulp,” so what are the influences on Heck?
ZC: I always like adventure stories. I always like pulp stories. Obviously I love super-heroes, because how else do you get into comics in the eighties? I like fantasy and science fiction and all that stuff, but I don’t draw stuff the way that the so-called mainstream comic book guys draw it. I’m not the guy they’re going to hire to do Green Lantern. My style is cartoony and silly, it has an indie quality to it, so I want to do these adventures and these stories that can work as adventures and be semi-serious but also have the freedom to be this different style of art that doesn’t have to be what people expect from an adventure story.
Double Barrel #1-2 are on sale now via comiXology.