Showing posts sorted by relevance for query shatter. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query shatter. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shatter: Issue One

Shatter: Issue One
(First Comics, December 1985)

This marks the first issue of the 'dedicated' Shatter comic book from First Comics.

In the editorial page on the inside front cover, First Comics editor Mike Gold tells us that the  special introductory issue of Shatter from February 1985 sold out, as did the second printing. While there is always an element of hyperbole in these statements, it does appear that the comic-buying public was intrigued with the idea of a title with its artwork composed on a computer.

By the time Shatter No. 1 was ready for preparation, the First Comics team of artist Mike Saenz and writer Gold had an updated piece of software at their disposal: MacDraw, which allowed them to create 'layers' and place them atop one another. As well, a higher-res font was used to create the comic's text. 

And most impressive of all, Apple / Steve Jobs provided First Comics with a FREE newfangled LaserWriter - in 1985 such devices cost $7,000 ! 

The ability of the LaserWriter to generate prints at 300 dpi meant a visible improvement in the artwork of the comic.

The initial pages of this first issue are confusing in terms of plot, mainly because no effort is made to update the reader on events taking place during Shatter's run as a backup feature in the First Comics title 'Jon Sable'. 

But it seems that Jack Scratch has decided to throw his lot in with a team of malcontents known as the 'Artists Underground', which include some geeks, and (naturally) a playboy bunny:

The old tenement building housing the secret base of the Artists Underground happens to contain a swimming pool, and the attractive leader of the Underground, Cyan, likes to swim a lot, which in turn provides a convenient excuse for some Old School MacIntosh cheesecake (keep in mind this is 11 years before 'Tomb Raider' first appeared on the Sega Saturn).

Unfortunately for Jack Scratch, a potential romantic encounter is interrupted by the appearance of some high-tech ninjas:

Has Cyan sold out the Underground to Corporate Interests ?! We'll have to see in 'Shatter' issue 2.....

Friday, June 10, 2011

'Shatter' (special issue one)

'Shatter' debuted in February 1985 (although the cover date was June) from 80s indie publisher First Comics. The artwork was done by Mike Saenz and the writing chores were handled by Peter Gillis. This was, as the blurb on the cover indicates, the first comic book to be composed on a computer; in this case, the Apple MacIntosh, as the introduction on the inside cover page tells the reader:

Shatter carried on as a back page feature in the First Comics book 'John Sable: Freelance', until December 1985 when the first issue of the formal Shatter series was released. The title lasted 14 issues (until April 1988). 

By today's standards the art in 'Shatter' seems crude, but at the time its execution required more than a little masochism on the part of the artist. The MacIntosh  of January 1984 cost $2,500, and had a 9-inch black and white screen with a resolution of 512 x 342 pixels (for comparison, the iPad's resolution is 1024 x 768). The Mac contained 128 kb of RAM (the 512 kb model released in September 1984 cost $2800), and among the included software apps was MacPaint. 

After artist Saenze finished composing his art on the Mac, the pages were printed using a dot-matrix printer (which explains the decidedly low-res nature of the graphics) and colored by hand for final printing.

The comic as a whole is not so memorable as to warrant my scanning and posting its contents entirely, but I will post some of the more interesting pages.

Here's the opening pages from the special debut issue, including a rather graphic death scene...for a computer-drawn image....with a comical 'Borp !'

Later on in this issue our hero, Jack Scratch, visits a hipster club where the fashion is quintessential mid-80s 'Blade Runner' chic:
We'll see what happens in forthcoming issues of 'Shatter'....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

'Shatter' issue 3

 'Shatter' issue three was released in June 1986; Steven Grant handled the scripting chores while Steve Erwin and Bob Dienethal handled the artwork.

The inside-cover Letters Page touches on the arcane topic of whether a curved line is too perfect to have been drawn on a MacIntosh...! 

This was computer artwork ca. mid-1986, after all.

 In this issue, Shatter - aka Sadr Al-Din Morales - finds himself unhappy with serving as a thrall to the Alien Nation and its overlord, Unrath.

Deciding to light out for home, he stumbles upon an orgy (?!) and later, a whip-wielding dominatrix (?!)...

His escape attempt unsuccessful, Shatter must stand beside Unrath and watch as the forces of conglomerate 'Simon Schuster Jovanovich' close in on the Nation....

we'll see what happens next issue......

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Batman: Digital Justice

Batman: Digital Justice
by Pepe Moreno
DC, 1990

It was 30 years ago next month (i.e., March, 1985) that the first 'digital' comic strip, Shatter, was published in the PC magazine Big K............

In December of that year, First Comics released the first issue of a dedicated Shatter color comic book series, which eventually lasted for 14 issues.

Marvel, noticing the high sales of the initial issues of Shatter, hired its artist, Mike Saenz, to produce Iron Man: Crash in 1988. Crash was advertised as the 'world's first digital graphic novel.'

DC eventually entered the digital comics market two years later, with its own graphic novel, 'Batman: Digital Justice.'

As indicated in the jacket flap, 'Justice' was composed on a Mac II with 8 MB of RAM, 45 MB of hard disk space, and a Trinitron 19 inch monitor ....a high-end setup for the late 80s !

Pepe Moreno, author and artist of 80s comics favorites like 'Rebel' and 'Generation Zero', took a year to complete 'Justice.' Given that Moreno was a more accomplished artist than Saenz, and was working with more advanced computing equipment, 'Justice' - not surprisingly - is the better-looking of these early digital comics.

'Justice' is set in the early 21st century; a time when hardly anyone remembers the legend of a caped crusader named Batman. Law enforcement in Gotham City has been modernized, relying on a system of ubiquitous, hovering drones to deter crime and punish evildoers.

James Gordon's grandson - also named James - is a sergeant on Gotham's police force. As 'Justice' opens, Gordon is in plainclothes, and pursuing an illicit drug transaction, when a drone lays waste to perps and police alike.

Outraged, Gordon starts an investigation of the drone's programming, which leads to a direct rebuke from his superior officers. Continuing his investigation through covert channels, Gordon discovers that a rogue AI - the digital embodiment of the long-ago super villain 'The Joker' - is in control of the city's computer network.

Stymied by a bureaucratic coverup, corruption in City Hall, and the deaths of close friends and associates, James Gordon finds himself alone and embattled......

However, when he pokes through some of his grandfather's old files, Gordon comes across knowledge that may turn the tables on the Joker.....knowledge about the legend of Batman........

I won't disclose any spoilers, save to say that Batman - and a reincarnated Robin, and a reincarnated Catwoman - will soon be dispensing digital justice on the evil forces, digital and 'real', besieging Gotham City.

To anyone under 30, obviously the computer-drawn and colored artwork in 'Justice' is going to appear crude. However, if you are willing to make allowances for the limitations of the technology at that time (keep in mind that today's XBox One is a more powerful PC than anything available in 1989), you will find that Moreno succeeds in giving 'Justice' a unique look and atmosphere, and the graphic novel retains its artistic appeal even to the present day.

Copies of 'Batman: Digital Justice' can be obtained for reasonable prices from your usual online vendors (I got mine for $5, from the discount bins at my local comics shop). It's well worth picking up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

'Shatter' issue 2

Issue 2 of ‘Shatter’ appeared in February 1986.

At the end of issue one, we saw hero Jack Scratch (aka Shatter) and his companions, ‘The Artist's Underground’, at the mercy of a corporate heavy. 

The tables are turned, causing an unpleasant episode of face-exploding (!):

While the Mac-based artistry of this issue seems crude to today's eyes, there are some panels  that demonstrate the potential of PC-based comic and graphic art:

Later on in the issue, Cyan, the leader of the local cell of the Artist's Underground, has a violent confrontation with her ex-husband...........

....while Jack Scratch decides to seek shelter with the 'Alien Nation', a collective headed by an eccentric homeboy named 'E.T.' Unrath:

Will Cyan survive ? Will Jack Scratch be protected by the Alien Nation or find himself an outcast again ? 

We'll find out in issue No. 3......