The Ninjabot

UNDER THE RADAR: Alex de Campi & Valentine Volume 2

Posted on September 29, 2014 at 5:16 am by Heather Antos

6a58ea1452ebd15381fa0542e5eb4592It’s been five long years since the release of Alex de Campi and Christine Larsen’s Valentine on the interwebs. Five long years since the duo help pioneer what digital comics are today. Now partnered with Mark Waid’s Thrillbent, the de Campi and Larsen are back with Volume 2 of Valentine with new releases available every Thursday. Check out what writer Alex de Campi had to share on the launch –



HEATHER ANTOS: Congratulations on the launch of Valentine Volume 2! Are you excited?


ALEX DE CAMPI: Ha! Yes. I’m just thrilled that after so long, Thrillbent have partnered with us to complete Valentine! The book actually started way back in 2009 on Comixology, self-published. I love this story so much and Christine’s art is FANTASTIC and… it just makes me so happy. I’m excited to be back.


HA: My favorite part about reading Valentine Volume 1 is that the reader never knows ahead of time what the next panels are. You take them one by one, like scenes in a play. It almost has a sort of cinematic effect. Was this intended?


ADC: Absolutely! We thought a ton about how to make a really exciting long-form digital story, and lit on the idea of throwing the page away and just having panels. And also, having it all optimised for the size/aspect ratio of a phone screen so you never have to squint or turn your phone or enlarge or do anything else to be taken out of the story.ValCover2


HA: What can readers and fans look forward to in Volume 2?


ADC: Well, everyone who thought we were a historical fantasy story will realise just how wrong they were as we reveal the truly epic nature of the story, and throw in even more whiplash turns that you never saw coming. Also: dragons, an amethyst castle, and a very, very bad trip.


HA: Christine Larsen’s art worked so well with the first Volume! Are you excited to have her back?


ADC: Christine is half the book. Without her exciting, passionate linework and the gorgeous colours (ably done by Tim Durning in the current chapters) it just… it wouldn’t be the same book. Christine is also hilarious and fun and draws amazing minicomics (and tells very funny, very dark jokes) when not slaving away on Valentine. Which, as you can guess, is no easy comic to draw. BTW: Christine’s tumblr here:


HA: How is writing a digitally based comic different than writing for the print medium? Do you have to approach it any differently?


ADC: I find I have the same storytelling rhythm no matter whether it’s print or digital. Every two pages, a mini cliffhanger or story point, so in digital, every 10-15 panels. Thus a Thrillbent mini-episode is more or less equivalent to four pages of paper comics, and has about two story beats in it. So, the underlying craft of storytelling is the same, but then how you fit that story to the medium to be the most dazzling and exciting to the reader…. that’s very different between paper and digital. It’s too long and technical to go into here, but the tl:dr version is: love the one you’re with. If it’s paper, make it the best paper comic you can, using that medium to its fullest. If it’s digital, dazzle away in that medium. Don’t try to compromise halfway between the two. Then you have a crappy paper comic and a mediocre digital comic.


HA: What are the benefits of doing Valentine digitally as opposed to print?


ADC: The ability to go back and constantly tweak things and make them better. No, that’s also a curse…. Seriously, though, the benefit is being able to reach so many people, outside the normal comic shop distribution system. There is a huge SF/F audience who love Valentine but don’t read that many comics… and many readers who find reading paper comics hard (parsing the page layouts) but are fine with Valentine.


HA: Are there any negative side effects to publishing digitally?


ADC: Yeah — especially in the beginning! Comics reviewers wouldn’t read it for like the first two years of its existence, because it wasn’t on paper and thus wasn’t “legitimate”. Seriously the dramas we had, trying to explain to reviewers how to download the comixology app and  find Valentine… they kept just saying, “don’t you have a PDF?” And we kept trying to explain to them that, unlike most of the so-called “digital” books that are really just bowdlerized print comics, we didn’t have a PDF form.


HA: Where can readers find Valentine Volume 1 and most importantly, where can they find Volume 2?


ADC: We are on both Thrillbent (here: ) and on Comixology in longer, full-chapter form (here: ). On each site, we are releasing weekly! Go forth, and gorge yourself on fantasy-thriller comics!


HA: Any last words?


ADC: I’m at NYCC (table Y-3 in Artists Alley) — come say hi! Also, if you like Valentine, I have the second season of my Grindhouse series (Dark Horse) coming out in mid-November and my supernatural thriller Semiautomagic with Jerry Ordway and Marissa Louise debuting in Dark Horse Presents #4 in early November. Out now is my Lady Zorro miniseries from Dynamite (#1-3 out now, #4 out soon) ( ) and that might be a great one for Valentine fans to pick up as it has the same sense of high adventure and, well, fun, that Valentine has. I tumblr and tweet at @alexdecampi.


Under the Radar is a column where I, Heather Antos, interview comic creators, writers, and artists of all kinds about their talents, skills, and projects to come! If you know of a comic creator who is Under the Radar and waiting to be discovered by the comic industry, contact me: @HeatherAntos

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