The team behind The Thrill Electric took the stage first thing Saturday morning to show off their work and talk about the inspiration and the making of the comic. Writers Leah Moore and John Reppion, designer Emma Vieceli, and artist Kit Buss from Windflower Studios attended:
From left to right: Emma Vieceli, Leah Moore, Kit Buss, John Reppion
The Thrill Electric is a 12 part, weekly comic chronicling the life and times of various characters whose lives revolve around the telegraph in 19th century Manchester. Leah and John talked about the origins of the strip, arising from research that discovered that, for skilled operators, the telegraph facilitated as much timewasting as facebook and twitter do today. This attitude provides a hook for the readers to bring them into the story.
The webcomic itself is gorgeous. Emma Vieceli's designs have been handled incredibly well by Windflower Studios, a team of four who worked for nearly a year to turn the scripts and designs into the full comic. There are sound effects, links from within the pages to wider research (the project is funded by Channel 4, and is seen as an educational project), and moments where you can head into the inner thoughts of the characters. There is constant motion within the panels, whether animation or the elements of the panels moving to provide interest. All of these provide an experience that is deeper than just reading a comic that has been designed for print but is being read on a screen.
But there are two features of this project that really make this stand out. The first is that each instalment features a moment of total animation, the 30 seconds or so of film from the first issue functioning almost as a title sequence. The second is the enhancements that pop up in each issue. Moore and Reppion talked about trying to create moments in each issue that could only exist in a project of this format, and of working to ensure that each one is unique. The enhancement in the 2nd issue is genuinely revolutionary, and not even months of spoilage on Bleeding Cool could lessen the impact of this. I won't spoil it for you, except to say that it's as close to having a Steadicam shot featuring the same characters throughout that you can get in comics.
To put it simply: This is a great read, not just for the whistles and bells and the joys of experimenting with and developing the webcomic format. Episode three has just been released, and there are nine more to come, one a week. Check it out and enjoy!
Next on World of Superman: A pictoral trawl through the MCM Expo.