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Brian K. Vaughan’s The Private Eye is a bold move forward for digital comics | Books | Big Issues | The A.V. Club


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The opportunities afforded by digital technology have been quickly changing the comic-book industry, and this past week, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin made another forward leap by unveiling an unorthodox online distribution model for their new series, The Private Eye. As the book features a story set in a future America with no Internet, Martin suggested that it be released only digitally, which means readers can go to panelsyndicate.com and pay what they want for a new full-length comic by two of the biggest talents in comics. The sales of each issue go directly to the creators to make the next chapter possible. It’s a bold move on Vaughan and Martin’s part, bypassing print publishers and digital outlets like Comixology to put their product in as many hands as possible, as quickly as possible. It also allows the creators to use their fan base for funding without asking them to donate to an unfinished product, as with the Kickstarter model. 

For fans, it’s money well spent when the product is this captivating.The Private Eye poses a fascinating question: What if all the personal information that was stored online—every embarrassing photo, inappropriate search, offensive conversation—was suddenly dumped from the cloud for everyone to see? People would want to hide their real faces in public, so in Vaughan’s futuristic society, almost everyone wears a mask, everything from animal heads to cloaking hoodies with creepy faces on the back. In a world where no one is who they seem, the paparazzi have become a new kind of private detective, a role the book’s central character performs with panache. Vaughan wears his noir influence on his sleeve, decorating the office of “Patrick Immelman” with posters of The Maltese Falcon and Angel Face, and offering a thrilling twist on the typical P.I. tale.  

Cool story. Cool distribution mechanism. Just plain cool.

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