Tuesday, January 18, 2011

PDF Waiting – The Adventures of Bernard the World Destroyer

Skottie Young is one of the few artists who I feel has a distinctly novel and personal approach to what he draws. He brings character and a unique sensibility to each page and so when I saw he was selling a digital book for $2 I knew I had to get on that. I’m not disappointed that I did because The Adventures of Bernard the World Destroyer is great fun and well worth the investment. Hit the jump to hear some thoughts about the work, and its delivery system.

I’m excited by the possibilities digital distribution offers. I like it, and use it, for plenty of my entertainment consumption needs. Comics is slowly going this way, but not completely. There are certain books I absolutely want to own in paper and sit on my shelf, and hold in my hands. There are other comics I do not mind getting in digital form. It’s a space saver, a time saver, and often cheaper than the hard copy alternative.

But one thing I do know is; if we don’t support digital comics in some way then the option won’t remain viable for very long. This is one reason why I try to support digital comics in some way. I have bought through the Marvel Monday Sales, as well as the DC special sales, through ComiXology. I don’t mind reading comics on my phone, certain comics, and I know that if sales of digital comics look good then we’ll get more of them. And with that will bring creator experimentation.

Skottie Young tweeted, just the other day, that he had 9000+ followers and he wanted to know how many would buy a PDF version of his Bernard book for only $2. As soon as I heard about it, I bought it. It doesn’t take a genius to know that $2 is a bargain, even for content that was freely available on his blog (which this was at the end of 2009), and that sometimes you just have to pony up and support these guys. They’re doing it for love of the game and just need some love back to know they can keep going.

I dropped my money into his pocket, conveniently and easily, and then downloaded my PDF. Here’s what I thought.

The Adventures of Bernard the World Destroyer

Created, written, drawn, coloured, and digitally distributed by Skottie Young

This book is a set of relatively disparate images, things Young wanted to draw, that he tied together with the inclusion of his strange alien, Bernard. It starts off random, stays random but slowly threads it all into more of a narrative. It’s not a perfect tale, and it’s only 24 one image strips, but it’s certainly an enjoyable romp full of humour and social conscience that is worth your time and money.

Each clip is broken up with a white page simply stating the number of the strip. This staccato motion gives the whole book a strobe effect of showing single cell vignettes of Bernard’s adventures on Earth as he looks to destroy it. Mostly, this book is funny. Young isn’t trying to send an allegorical message to any higher power, he’s simply out to have some fun. He’s also out to let you know exactly what annoys him and how he’d probably deal with the issue were he a powerful alien in a little life support tank. It appears he would destroy most people who stupid haircuts. I support Skottie Young in this crusade.

The main draw is Young’s art. The man really knows how to draw and every image, every page, is the sort of thing you can savour and enjoy for longer than the average panel. There’s a gleeful insanity to the line work, even when homely middle American moms are being incinerated. But once Kanye West appears it gets all sorts of fun.

If the story isn’t to your taste then this package as a collection of individual pin ups should be enough. It’s a funny book, very easy to look at, and something you can read quickly. I don’t know what more you want, or expect, for $2. This is a guaranteed winner for the price. And the PDF is yours to keep, forever.

Then there are also the guest artists who contribute their own takes on Bernard. To give you the names, though not the art, there are: Darren Rawls, Ramon Perez, Mike Hawthorne, Nic Klein, Mike Norton, Chris Samnee, Tom Fowler, Francis Vallejo, and Rafael Albuquerque. Each artist brings a little something different to the concept and the character and it’s all almost worth buying for these pages alone.

I’m interested to see how Young feels this endeavour went and if he’ll do more like it in the future. I hope he will because I have no problems with downloading PDFs full of gorgeous art like this.

Verdict – Buy It. An easy, funny, pleasant read for $2 that supports a creator and shows the world that there is a market for alternate distribution models, yeah, that’s worth all our time. If you are interested in the slightest, and you really should be if you like great comic art, then go to Skottie Young’s store and buy the digital download. Hell, while you’re there buy some more of his stuff. The guy is one of the greatest artists of this generation.

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