Rob Balder, the author of the delightfully geeky webcomic Erfworld, has a new trick up his sleeves. He has written a short 24-page comic based on a story by Dr. Ben Bova, science fiction author and editor of Omni magazine, among other things. Illustrated by Bill Holbrook, Duel in the Somme is a “high-tech romance by the seat of the pants.” Without giving too much away, it’s a story of a rivalry between a geeky computer programmer and his smarmy boss, with some World War I dog-fighting thrown in.
Bova, Balder and Holbrook are trying a new model of comics publishing: they’re releasing one page a day online for free under a Creative Commons license, and asking people who like it to throw a little in the tip jar. Any tip will get you a PDF version of the comic, and a $10 or more tip will get you a hard copy of the comic. At the end of the 24 days, all three of them will be at Intervention in Rockville, Maryland, signing copies of the comic for sale. (Side note: I don’t know much about Intervention but it appears to be a new convention for people who spend a lot of time online, either creating content or consuming it. Could be interesting.)
I did get a chance to take a sneak peek at the comic. It’s not entirely unpredictable, but think of it as an episode of a sitcom: you may be able to guess how it’s going to end, but you still have fun watching it and there are some jokes along the way that you weren’t expecting. And, at a page a day, it won’t take you long to read. Check it out and send them a tip if you enjoy it!