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Shatter Special from 1985, released by First Comics before the regualr series.

Shatter Special from 1985, released by First Comics before the regualr series.

If you’re lookin’ for the pixelated look, here it is. But don’t blame the way-ahead-of-the-curve Mike Saenz for the blockiness, as it was the best he could do (the best anyone could do), drawing comics digitally in 1985. Yep, it’s Shatter.

From IsotopeComics.com:

The first ever digitally created comic book, Shatter‘s beautiful dot-matrix art was drawn on a first-generation Macintosh which, for you tech junkies out there, boasted a mere 128 KB of RAM. Long before Wacom tablets were invented, Saenz’ work was the painstaking result of the click-by-agonizing-click of the mouse. And it was through Shatter’s innovations in technique and software that forever changed the way comic creators, publishers, and readers looked at how comics could be made.

And from Wikipedia, a nice explanation of Shatter‘s mid ’80s production process:

The artwork was initially drawn on a first-generation Apple Macintosh using a mouse, and printed out on one of the first Apple LaserWriter laser printers. The print-outs were then photographed like a piece of traditionally drawn black-and-white comic art and the color separations were applied in the traditional manner for comics at the time. This is almost the reverse of the current method of drawing comics on board and scanning the art into a computer for the application of color in computer graphics programs.

And even more great “stone age computer comic book drawing 101″ from BurningCity.com:

The hardest part was not drawing with the big clunky mouse that came with the MacPlus. Nor was it the complete lack of memory, which meant that you had the drawing program (Fullpaint) on a floppy in the main drive slot, your 800K work disk floppy in the external drive, and you had to swap out disks to use any stock art that you had created. No, the hard part was the fact that you could only see about two thirds of a full page at any one time, unless you shrunk it to a postage stamp size thumbnail. Covers and splash pages, especially double-page splash pages, were a layout nightmare.

Well, by the time I started to collect monthly comics in 1986, Shatter at that point was becoming “old news,” but I do remember being intrigued by listings / cover images from it in back issue catalogs…

…never picked-up back issues of it (at the time, that is), however in 1988 I did buy Mike Saenz’ (then new) Iron Man: Crash graphic novel — digital illustrating was already evolving quickly, and Saenz was at the forefront of it.

More info / resources:

I’m saving Iron Man: Crash for a future posting, but pretty unbelievably, Amazon has it in stock! Also available in trade paperback is Shatter, recently released. You can head to Amazon for that as well, and it’s also listed in the Copper Age Comics aStore, within the Independent – Various section.

As for the original Shatter issues? I bought them recently, to finally have in my collection. Check your local comic shop first, and if no luck there, there’s always mycomicshop.com!

2 comments to Shatter

  • Anthony

    How many issues were there in the SHATTER series? I remember buying #1 — looking forward to hearing about IRON MAN: CRASH; I vaguely remember when that came out too. [off to read about "Where is Mike Saenz now?' on Wikipedia...]

    Ahhh, FIRST Comics. :) So cool.

  • admin

    Publication history from Wikipedia:

    * March, 1985: the first episode of Shatter appears as a double-page spread in the British computer magazine Big K published by IPC Magazines (now IPC Media).

    * June, 1985: Shatter appears as a backup feature in Jon Sable: Freelance #25, and Shatter Special #1, published by First Comics.

    * December, 1985-1986: Shatter continues as a 14 issue series by First Comics. Mike Saenz leaves after 2 issues. Other artists include Steve Erwin who drew traditional art on board that was digitized by Bob Dienethal, and Charlie Athanas who re-established the practice of creating the comic directly on the computer.

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