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Issue 1.05 | Nov 1993

The Way of Comics

By Mark Frauenfelder

Printing? Use this version
Returning to the Cave

Wired Paradise

What's In a Game?

Legislation Man

'Toon Dog

Intelligence Without Secrecy

A Window On the Matrix

New Visions New Voices

A New Formula for Conferences

Takashiro's Playhouse

Microsoft Burnout Prevention And

The Way of Comics

The early '70s offered two flavors of comics: muscular men in tight pajamas fighting crime and drug-gobbling freaks having sex. As a young teen, I was happy to add The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Trashman to my stacks of The Fantastic Four and Spiderman, but I was even happier when Byron Preiss began roping in my favorite aboveground comic-book writers and artists to produce a series of highly stylized graphic novels for adults. Called "Fiction Illustrated," these small paperbacks had stories that read like good pop-fiction novels and helped reintroduce comics to an audience that might otherwise write off "funnybooks" after adolescence.

Fiction Illustrated's combination of comic-book art and text was commercially successful, so Preiss tweaked his recipe and produced hundreds of "visual books" for major publishing houses, working with people such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harvey Kurtzman.

It's no surprise that Preiss is now bringing his favorite subjects - science, science fiction, and comic books - to CD-ROM. "I think there are tremendous possibilities for interactivity with the narrative style of comics. In fact, we're working on multimedia projects with [cartoonists], one being Gahan Wilson. Gahan is drawing and designing a haunted house that you interact with. We call it a 'Dying Book' as opposed to the Broderbund 'Living Book.'"

Byron Preiss Multimedia (BPMM) is releasing titles under five imprints, including Digital Bauhaus (entertainment for adults) and Crayon Multimedia (kid's programs).

The first Bauhaus title is The Ultimate Robot (US$50- $70), based on the works of Isaac Asimov. It includes a robot tool kit designed by Ralph "Star Wars" McQuarrie, film clips from real and sci-fi movie robots, and every major Asimov robot story and essay.

In 1994, BPMM will begin publishing CD-ROM versions of Scientific American Library books.

I haven't seen any of the BPMM titles yet, but I'm interested how the cartoonists working with Preiss will adapt to the medium. What will happen when word balloons and art panels mutate to fit the space defined by multimedia?

Byron Preiss Multimedia: +1 (212) 645 9874

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