Comic Book Improv

Would you be interested in a web comic whose heroes, major plot points, villains, settings, and more were controlled in part by you and your votes? My wife's pretty amazing, and she had that idea some months ago and now I want to know what you think about it.

Basically people could design a character look in HeroMachine and submit it. From those entries I'd pick the top ten or whatever for everyone to vote on. Whichever look got the most votes would be chosen as the "star" of the web comic, and we'd then have a contest for what he or she (or it, I suppose) would be named, powers, background, etc. Once all that was voted on, we'd have submissions and votes for the general topic of the first issue, for villains, supporting characters, etc.

Once it was set up, the idea would be that pretty much everything in it would be decided by voters, introducing a random quality that (obviously, given the rest of this blog!) tickles my fancy. I'd actually write and draw it, of course, but the elements would be from reader submissions. Sort of "Comic Book Improv".

If we get bored with the first character, more could be introduced. We might even have a "shared world" sort of thing going on, where all the characters would operate in the same setting but would have separate careers and adventures for the most part.

I see it as being along the lines of "Invincible", if any of you read that, where a new mind-blowingly-cool character is introduced seemingly in every other panel, sometimes never to be heard from again. I see it coming out every week once it gets going, each installment incorporating whatever was voted on before.

Anyway, it's been kicking around in my head since my wife suggested it, but now I'm starting to get a bit more serious about it and wanted to throw the doors open to discussion of the basic idea. Is it something you'd be interested in participating in as a voter or reader? Or does it seem pointless? Well, I mean, of course it seems pointless, we're talking about comics, not ending world hunger, but you know, given that.

26 Responses to Comic Book Improv

  1. The Grizz says:

    Dude, that’s an awesome idea. I wish my girlfriend would come up with ideas like that.

  2. DJ says:

    I think its an awesome idea as you know and really hope it gets done.

  3. Whit says:

    The idea sounds great in theory, but it sounds like a LOT of work, and I wonder if it would be realistic to keep a weekly deadline.

  4. Jeff Hebert says:

    Good point, Whit. But then again, other people seem to be able to do it, so it’s at least possible. Part of the challenge will be making them long enough to be interesting without being so long it’s too much to do. Somewhere between a daily newspaper comic strip and the Sunday edition, maybe? I dunno.

  5. DJ says:

    Maybe you should do it bimonthly and make it like a comic page. That way you still have time for other things in life and heromachine.

  6. DJ says:

    Sorry for double post but if you do want to do it weekly check out The size they use would probably be a really good one.

  7. Jeff Hebert says:

    Well, I’ve been thinking … This week’s Random Mashup Pile had a collection of Kirby/Lee Thor backstories in it. Kirby did everything in one of four basic layouts: full-page splash, four big huge equal panels, two big panels on bottom and one wide panel on top, or two big panels on top and one wide one on bottom.

    I figure I can do the same, basically, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out page layouts or to do anything fancy. Each week would be one page, which is at most four panels. Not a huge deal, if I can’t do a page a week then I have no business being in the business, you know?

  8. DJ says:

    You have a point. When do you expect to start if you do end up doing it?

  9. Jeff Hebert says:

    Thanks for the Applegeeks link, that looks to be an interesting size — formatted for 8.5″x11″ so if they ever want to print they can. I’m tempted to measure out a regular comic book as well and see what that turns into.

    As far as when I’d start, I don’t know. I kind of get a while hair like this and go crazy, so I should probably sit on it for a week or so just to make sure it still sounds like a good idea later. But probably sooner rather than later. My contract with UGO is up next May and I’d want to have something good and solid with a history by then. I mean, I hope we extend the deal but you never know.

  10. DJ says:

    No problem. If you need any help with any part of it just email me. I’m not a good artist but for ideas and writing I’m okay.

  11. Danny Beaty says:

    Don’t do anything that will take time and effort away from “HeroMachine 3.0”.

  12. DJ says:

    He wont be working on HeroMachine for ever so doing some thing like this could help me start a career in the comic buisness. While I would love for him to be trapped in a cave in the desert kidnapped by a secret terroist orginazation being forced to make Heromachine 3.0 until he creates a HeroMachine that lets him become the hero and then breaks out leaving his his partner in the cave dead as he escaped and then goes on to be a big superhero it just wont happen…yet..the check is still processing.*cough*

  13. HeroComplex says:

    hmmm… now WHERE did you got THAT crazy idea DJ?

  14. HeroComplex says:

    hmmm… now WHERE did you got THAT crazy idea DJ?

    anyway, I REALY don’t mind sharing my creations (click my name, click it…) most of them already have a back story, which, I don’t think there should be a vote on powers and back story for the characters, when you post a character you also post his back story

  15. Jeff Hebert says:

    This wouldn’t really be coming “at the expense of” HM3 any more than the blog does. I can’t code 24×7, I have to take time to do other things or I’d go crazy. Part of that is drawing the weekly contest prizes, that’s been a big help.

    And my underlying motivation is to make something so popular UGO has no choice but to renew my contract next year! I love working with them, I love working on HM and this blog, and I want to keep doing it for a long time.

  16. Jeff Hebert says:

    Last night I was thinking that powers and all shouldn’t be a part of it, that it ought to be a straight visual and I’d do all the writing part of it. I don’t want to get into a deal where someone is like “I wrote all of that and created it OMG!!!1!!” and feels like they own the character. It might be easier to avoid that if it’s just a visual people are voting on and not a story and name and background, you know?

  17. DJ says:

    Honestly it just came to me in my sleep.

    I agree it should just be the visual thats made and you decide the backstory and powers. Why? Because being a writer I know its a little more difficult working with some one elses character and having to work in their backstory.

    I have a few I’ve been making just for this but I was wondering. Do you plan on making it a serious type or a comedy type?

  18. Jeff Hebert says:

    I don’t know for sure … it would have to kind of play out on its own I think. But definitely not comedy in the sense of like PvP or whatever.

  19. EnderX says:

    Any particular limits on character types placed on this yet?

  20. Jeff Hebert says:

    This is all still very much in the brainstorming/making it up as we go phase, so pretty much anything goes.

  21. John D says:

    I would definitely be interested in this. It sounds like a lot of fun.

  22. collex says:

    Wow. An awesome idea I already have an full of ideas for this! Yes, you should write the background/name/story yoursel, but maybe you could like, write three version o background and let us choose wich one we prefer? So you created it but with reader’s input that do not force you to give credit to anyone?

  23. Jeff Hebert says:

    That’s a good idea, Collex!

  24. frankie says:

    Sounds like a cool idea. I’m in.

  25. Will says:

    Let’s do it.

  26. Tejas says:

    i don’t know all this!ByE!