Wednesday, August 3, 2011

FEEDING GROUND _ Found in Translation-FG Flip Book

CHRIS here:

When we pitched Feeding Ground to Archaia in 2008 at NYCC the first question the CEO & President PJ Bickett had was, “how do you feel about making each of the six issues a flip book, translated into Spanish?”  Right after being asked this question, Micheal Lapinski, who pitched it to PJ, called Swifty Lang and I to share the news that Archaia was interested in publishing our comic and that they wanted to translate it as a flip book (English on one side and Spanish on the other- same story). The uniqueness of the floppy flip book resides in the tactile weight and ease of flipping from cover to cover, and those Spanish speaking readers could read Feeding Ground in their native language. This was both an challenge and an opportunity to capture the nuances of Swifty Lang’s well written English dialogue. Either-way, it would be exciting to see how our story would translate.

The three of us were thrilled by the idea and thought it perfectly mixed with the set of our story on the Arizona/Mexico border.  Mike had one brilliant contingency though, that the flip book be set at the standard $3.95 single issue price point (thought being, no one would pay twice the amount for a floppy, and a new title to-boot). Archaia agreed. Feeding Ground Spanish/English Flip book was going to be an exclusive opportunity and only the single issues would be flip  books (the graphic novel would be stand alone as either English or Spanish books).  

As we eased into the production of our first floppy there were a few issue. For one, between the three of us, none of us spoke fluent Spanish.  Luckily, we found a few translators (translated by Nathalia Murray / Hard Cover being edited by an editor from Mexico) for the 6 issue trade and began a long journey of writing/revising and translating month to month with them.  Second, Diamond at the time was going through major market changes as comic shops across the country were greatly effected by the digital shift brought on by tablets and other incidental printing problems.  And, as we tirelessly worked on our first issue, we watched our published shift interests away from printing single issues to focus on printing only hard cover.  In fact, our property was the final floppy they were to publish. Lastly, to add to the complexity of production, our floppies were being printed in Korea, which at the time stood on the rim of war and had problems with shipping exports on time, making it hard to find our issue in many stores.  Needless to say, we regarded this opportunity as creators on a changing print frontier and cherished the medium we were working in as a once in a life time opportunity.

The first time we held our first issue “One in Ten” in hand in the fall of 2010 at Bergen Street Comics, the first thing we noticed was how heavy it was and others noticed too, like you were getting more than you paid for. The quality of the floppies semi-glossy offset coloring and tones looked outstanding.  We ran out of comics that night at Bergen Street and it introduced us to the scarcity of each issue.  Since, we have had trouble finding a few spare issues to hand to family and friends, which meant collecting each issue, even as creators, reminded us that floppies are a tactile joy, that unlike unlimited digital distribution there are a finite amount of printed floppies. In these fine days of curious curation, cataloguing music and films and comics, somehow that makes the floppy feel special.  After two years and six issues, our Feeding Ground flip book are finished printing (Issue Six is available for a limited time in stores) and we are as proud as we are humbled to find our art and story out there.  Give us a shout, let us know how you found the translation or flip book!

by Chris Mangun

FEEDING GROUND _ Something about the Floppy

SWIFTY here: Issue 6 hits the shelf today and it's certainly bittersweet. This will be the first opportunity I will have to see the issue itself in print.  Walking into stores I've been in countless times and seeing something I helped create on the shelves has been such a joyful experience. While the Hardcover is sure to reach an even wider audience, there has been something amazing about the floppies.

From the onset, and in nearly every review, the bilingual content of the floppy has been the most salient feature of the entire series. Those who have not even read the book know that FEEDING GROUND is "the flipbook". This brilliant publishing decision by Archaia has created an object that is truly memorable.

While I have stated that FEEDING GROUND is something to be read in its Hardcover edition, the floppy itself embodies our learning curve. There are some bits of dialogue that have changed in the Hardcover, panels that have been reworked: we have remastered the story.  But there is something about the imperfections, the mistakes we made along the way that have an earnestness that cannot be reproduced.

When I was a kid collecting baseball cards, it was the error cards that were the most valuable. Former Baltimore Oriole and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken's kid brother, Billy, had a Fleer Card that was rather infamous. He stands with hands clasped, bat handle exposed on which there was written the expletive "Fuck Face". Whether or not this was just a prank by the young second baseman or an honest mistake was certainly something that was hotly contested at the time. The fact that Ripken's questionable demarcation created such a fervor signals not only how long ago this incident occurred, but how far removed we are as  culture from valuing mass produced objects.

What is amazing about comics that is different from all other forms of media right now, is that comics are still collectible. Their digital counterpart transforms something meaningful into something highly disposable. There is still a palpable sense of nostalgia anytime you walk into a comic shop. So if you can, get your hands on Issue 6, the last of the series. We are certainly proud of it. The story is definitely memorable. But the comic itself, the flipbook, is unforgettable.