By Jacey Gibb, Assistant Editor
The time is 8:25 p.m. on November 5. I’m anxiously watching the clock on my laptop, with a Dr. Funk lager already in hand, waiting for Graphixia’s first ever videocast to begin.
Unfortunately I’m even more inept than I thought I was with Google+ and I end up joining the Hangout almost 10 minutes late.
Already present are the four pillars of Graphixia, an online blog dedicated towards the exploration of comic books, both long-standing and recent. Graphixia’s origin is a modest one: back in January 2010, Peter Wilkins and David Wright, both English professors at Douglas College, began experimenting with collaborative writing on Google documents. These pieces quickly manifested into something more though, taking on a blog format with both writers producing 500-word posts each week on continuously evolving topics. In April of 2011, two more comic book enthusiasts joined the roster and began contributing to the site: Brenna Clarke Gray, another English professor at Douglas, and Scott Marsden, a librarian from Alexander College, whose personal collection of over 20,000 comic books has helped him earn the unofficial title of “head archivist of Graphixia.”
“It’s all part of our global domination effect,” Wilkins explains in the minutes before the videocast goes live. As someone who’s far from a comic book aficionado, the idea of listening in on a lengthy dialogue about them seems daunting at first. But the spirited interplay between the Graphixia members, with such organic banter and delightful chemistry, quickly reassures me that their discussions are accessible to both comic book fans and non-fans alike.
As the videocast officially begins, Wright briefly introduces the group and notes the upcoming globetrotting of different members: Gray and Wilkins are traveling to England for Comics Forum to discuss a paper on Scott Pilgrim and the following week Wilkins and Wright are teaming up to present a multi-media project in China. What’s interesting to note, as Wilkins points out, is that both excursions are coming as an indirect result from the group’s blog.
“I think that if we hadn’t had Graphixia in the first place, we would never be doing these kinds of things, jetting around the world to talk about comic books to international audiences.”
From there the conversation moves fluidly, from ridiculing original X-men storylines to briefly debating whether or not a hyphen exists in the name Spider-man (they’ve discussed this before; while the correct spelling nowadays has a hyphen, it used to be a simple compound), but a focus starts to develop when Wright asks the question, “What is the state of comics in 2012?”
Gray has noticed that readers now are more interested in short-run, complete stories—she doesn’t want to meticulously collect every issue in a series. Marsden argues that this could also just be an issue of space, considering his own collection now weighs about the same as a pickup truck. It’s become unsustainable for him to continue collecting comic books at the rate he has been. But a shift has been taking place that may solve this issue.
Despite the nostalgia factor of owning physical copies, the digitalization of most comic books may inevitably be where the industry’s future lies. Last month Graphixia oriented their posts around webcomics such as Garfield minus Garfield and Oglaf, which have both developed considerable followings. With the rise of webcomics also comes a booming online community, of which Graphixia is happily a part of. As if referring to comic books as superheroes themselves, Wilkins describes webcomics in a blog post “as a possible destiny of the medium.”
With a videocast, seven podcasts, and 93 blog posts already under Graphixia’s name, here’s hoping the comic book quadpod enjoys another 93 more.
If you would like to check out some of Graphixia’s blog posts or any of their other projects, go to www.graphixia.cssgn.org. As well, they are always open to having new contributors on the website. Email Peter Wilkins at email@example.com for more details.