On Strips: Computerizing

By | Friday, June 27, 2014 Leave a Comment
I recall in the late 1980s when a few comic book creators started toying with the notion of creating their work directly on a computer. Mike Saenz was probably one of the biggest experimenters in this regard, and his (still-heavily bit-mapped) Shatter book still holds fond memories for me. Batman: Digital Justice and Iron Man: Crash were also both well received in this era, although they evidently weren't successful enough to warrant continued efforts at the time.

The first instance I recall of a serial book utilizing a computer was in the early 1990s. I don't recall the title exactly, but I remember reading that John Byrne had a font created based on his hand lettering. He would then lay out his text on his Mac, print the dialogue on a laser printer, and paste everything onto his art boards. Doing typography and coloring became a regular thing in mainstream comics in the late 1990s, and now, of course, many comics are created start-to-finish on the computer.

But what about newspaper strips? When did comic strips finally get on the digital bus?
There are certainly any number of instances where computers are the subject of comic strips. They've shown up regularly in Dilbert and Foxtrot for decades. But even in that "How Garfield is Drawn" video I highlighted recently shows that most of the strip is still done with paper and ink. I know there are some comic strip creators out there who work all digitally these days, but does anyone know who/when/where that got started in comic strips?

Maybe not "who was first" (those questions are always more nebulous than they sound) but who were some of the early adopters? What were some of the early experiments? How did the syndicates and newspapers (notoriously technologically conservative) handle those people?

Does anyone have any insights into how that progression played out? Or could maybe point me to some resources where that information might be available?
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