NEWS REPORT - Andrew Hudson - Beach Metro Community News - Nov., 2014: Comic books inspire film ambition

History of Digital comics
  • The first digital comic was Shatter, written by Peter Gillis and illustrated on the computer by Mike Saenz. Shatter appeared simultaneously as a one-shot special and as a backup feature in First Comics' Jon Sable title in 1985. It was published in its own 14 issue series from 1985-1986. Shatter was serialised in the British computer magazine Big K from the March 1985 issue.
  • Shatter was initially drawn on a first-generation Mac using a mouse and printed on a dot-matrix printer.
    It was then photographed like a piece of traditionally drawn black and white comic art, and the color separations were applied in the traditional manner.
  • Shatter artist Mike Saenz went on to create Iron Man: Crash, the first digital graphic novel in 1988.
  • Batman: Digital Justice was published by DC Comics in 1990, and introduced a more sophisticated blend of computer graphics techniques.
  • The Black Diamond Effect was created and started publishing by George Peter Gatsis in 1990, incorporating all the 3-D rendering and 2-D techniques of that time to mimic an animation still. The majority of the comic book was produced with the Vector Format.
  • Mike Saenz and Norm Dwyer created Donna Matrix, the first digital graphic novel utilizing 3-D rendering, in 1993.

Chronology 1985-1990:
  • March, 1985: the first episode of Shatter, written by Peter Gillis, illustrated by Mike Saenz and edited by Mike Gold, appears as a double-page spread in the British computer magazine Big K published by IPC Magazines (now IPC Media).
  • June, 1985: Shatter, written by Peter Gillis and illustrated by Mike Saenz, appears as a backup feature in Jon Sable: Freelance #25, and Shatter Special #1, published by First Comics.
  • December, 1985-1986: Shatter continues as a 14 issue series by First Comics. Mike Saenz leaves after 2 issues. Other artists include Steve Erwin and Bob Dienethal who drew traditional art on board that was digitized, and Charlie Athanas who re-established the practice of creating the comic directly on the computer.
  • 1988: Iron Man: Crash, the first digital graphic novel is published by Marvel Comics. Drawn by Mike Saenz.
  • 1990: DC Comics publishes Batman: Digital Justice. Artist and writer Pepe Moreno uses a combination of 3-D modeling, vector illustration and CAD programs in addition to image editing software like Photoshop, using a Mac II with 16-bit color.
  • 1990: The Black Diamond Effect started publishing by George Peter Gatsis. The comic was generated using 3D and enhanced art by scanning and painting, using all the various graphic formats, primarily the Vector Format, composed in a layout program.

Chronology 1991-2000:
  • 1991: Sandman #19: "A Midsummer Night's Dream," is the only comic to win a World Fantasy Award. It was colored using an early version of PhotoShop to create a progressive sunset and night in the colors of comic.
  • 1991: Victor Vector & Yondo by Ken Steacy is published as a CD-ROM comic by Sanctuary Woods Multimedia. Although this is not a digital comic, it features an early use of digital special effects (Photoshop twirl filters) applied to traditional comic art. It was published as a print comic in 1994 by Fractal Comics Group.
  • 1992: DC Comics publishes The Hacker Files written by Lewis Shiner and illustrated by Tom Sutton and Mark Buckingham, the last two issues of which incorporate digitally created art.
    Sept. 1993: David Farley's Doctor Fun is published on the World Wide Web.
  • 1993-1994: Dark Horse Comics publishes Version, an English language printing of the traditionally-drawn manga by Hisashi Sakaguchi, with all-digital (3-D CGI) cover art by Jack Harris.
    August 1993: Mike Saenz creates Donna Matrix, computer generated graphic novel with 3-D graphics, published by Reactor Press. This is the first 3-D CGI graphic novel.
  • January 1994: Adhesive Comics publishes The Eden Matrix, a comic book featuring digital color made in Adobe Photoshop 2.5 on Windows 3.11 and Brilliance graphics application on the Amiga platform with art by Ashley Underwood and George Edward Purdy (under the pseudonym Slogan).
  • March 1995: Bebe Williams launches the webcomics portal Art Comics Daily, an online gallery of several webcomics.
  • June, 1995: Argon Zark!, a digitally created Web comic, appears on the Web, drawn by writer/artist Charley Parker with a graphics tablet in Painter and Photoshop..
  • 1995: Sinkha, a multimedia graphic novel featuring sophisticated 3-D rendering is created by science fiction artist Marco Patrito and published on CD-ROM by Mohave.
    Fall 1996: Sinkha is published as a comics story in the Heavy Metal Fall 1996 Special.
  • 1998: The Black Diamond Effect-Syntax E.R.R.O.R. by George Peter Gatsis continued the story, with much better graphics, but still using the same techniques from 1990.
  • 1998: The DOME: Ground Zero by Dave Gibbons and Angus McKie is published by DC Comics. An early use of the Poser, 3DS Max and Bryce software in comic books.
  • 2001: The Spiders by Patrick S. Farley for his website, Electric Sheep Comix. The webcomic traces an alternate history of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, where Al Gore is President of the United States, and ordinary civilians can view the war through web cams carried by roving robotic "spiders" dispersed into Afghanistan by the U.S. Army.

Tech specs regarding the production of the The Black Diamond Effect comic books:

The comic books production mimics more closely to that of animation techniques. Generated 3D characters and graphics, scanned and enhanced line art, all get enhanced with additional digital painting. The software used in 1990 was; Quark Xpress, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and Swivel 3D. As the years progress, the 3 core programs continued to be used, but the 3D programs changed. Swivel 3D, then Strata Studio Pro and Infini-D. After the digital production is completed, the manipulation of the artwork continues on the printers end of the production, the actual linescreen of the covers were controlled to such a degree, that you end up with 2 to 3 different linescreens on the same page. The total assest count of each book tops an image library of over 500 elements. While everyone at the time was struggling with bitmapped graphics on the page... 90 percent of the graphics in TBDE are VECTOR based. This makes it possible to make creative changes at any stage of production, even at the printers. This technique is common in todays book market, but George Peter Gatsis has been and developed these techniques in art college between the years of 1986 to 1989 and put them to full use in the production of his comic books in 1990. A video example of this long time un-altered production process can be viewed by clicking here. Additional: The comic books have always been available for immediate download, right after they have been distributed into the market at This has been the longest on-going duo-distribution ( print and web ) by any comicbook publisher.