Since announcing Electricomics last week, we have had a great deal of interest, enquiries and questions about the project. Here I will attempt to answer those questions, or at least explain why we can’t yet answer them.

Electricomics is wholly funded by the Digital Research and Development Fund For the Arts. This is how they describe themselves:

“The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund from Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta to support collaboration between arts projects, technology providers and researchers to explore the potential of increasing audience engagement or find new business models.”

The fund requires three parts to any application. An arts organisation, a technology partner, and a research lead, so that the project has a definite benefit for the wider arts community, a definite technological aim which drives the project, and a solid research team to make sure the findings of the project are studied and analysed for maximum ongoing benefit.

In the case of Electricomics, the arts organisation is Alan Moore and Mitch Jenkins’ Orphans of The Storm, the tech partner is Ocasta Studios, and the research partners are Alison Gazzard at London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education, and Daniel Merlin Goodbrey at the University of Hertfordshire.
This large and unwieldy team jointly applied for the funding, using the same huge daunting form as everyone else who applies for it.

On the huge daunting form we explained that we wanted to look at how comics currently exist in the digital space, and explore their translation/transition from page to screen. Hopefully we would do this in new ways to what has already been explored before – so complementing what is already on offer, but using the R&D aspect to explore it in a way that isn’t usually possible with such projects. We wanted to focus on storytelling in particular, and try and find new ways to explore comics narratives using the technology now available.
We wanted to figure out a way to make these innovative comics narratives using a set of tools that the clever chaps at Ocasta would create, we would then put those tools into an app, release the comics we’d made while researching it all, and then let everyone else use the app and create with it.

Amazingly, the Digital Research and Development Fund for the Arts did not scoff and file our application in the bin, in fact we were granted an interview at Nesta’s offices in London. We went down, nervous and mob handed, and managed to answer all the questions without being sick or passing out from terror.
And then we could only go home, and sit and wait.
Eventually, after what felt like an eternity, we found out we’d been selected for the funding.
Once we’d finished congratulating ourselves, we realised we actually had to do this now, it was a real thing.

We held a meeting in the atmospheric and evocative library at 400 year old Delapre Abbey in Northampton. It was quiet, they gave us really nice cakes, and there was no Wifi so we got a lot of talking done. Daniel Goodbrey gave us an incredibly informative primer on digital comics, which introduced us to things we’d not seen before, things which intimidated us, and inspired us. I took notes. I took so many notes I forgot to doodle in the margin.

There was a lengthy wait on the paperwork, we all sat watching our in-boxes but then at last it was all systems go. Green light.
We were Announcing Electricomics!

The announcement happened last week, and from inside the whirlwind of interaction that occurred we discovered three things.

1. People want to know the exact specifics of the app.
2. People want a solid release date for the app.
3. People do not want wishy-washy answers to these important questions.

People may, I’m afraid, still be disappointed. The nature of an R&D Arts project means nothing can be nailed down quite yet. Nailing down is not our business.

Here, instead, is what we do know:

The project lasts one year, during which time we shall create the comics (the scripts are done already, the artists have them, ready to start drawing), attend other learning events and report back to Nesta through interviews and reports by our research team.
The research team will be heading out to do workshops and seminars at various events through the year to find out what you want from the app, and when there is a skeleton build ready, they want you to come and play with it, test it live with them and see what you make of it. They really need your support, online and in person. It’s a fundamental part of the project to include the audience in the process so please, we invite you to join in.

The project is not your usual comics launch. We don’t yet have a release date, or a product to sell, but we still need your support. Hopefully in about a year’s time we will have a fantastic app ready to download and create comics with, and a 32 page comic to read on it.
That is our plan, and now we are contractually bound to pursue it doggedly. We are all completely committed to that goal, and the nature of the funding means we will all be working constantly toward the project milestones, a yearlong tick list of Things To Do, which will result in ‘Electricomics’.
Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and we will make sure you are included in the next part of the Electricomics story.

–Leah Moore