By Mitch Barracuda
Comic Book Creator 2.0
Featuring Marvel Heroes Comic Book Pack
Platforms: Windows 2000 / XP / Vista
Price: $49.99 & $29.99; Available now
So you want to make a comic book? So do I. Some writers find the comic book process rather painful, as the idea becomes four or five more jobs and a bankroll stealing from mama’s purse seem useless. On top of that, you have to search every message board out there for an artist, inker, colorist, letterer, logo maker, and therapist. (The last one is optional, but the independent creator might need one if not prepared for the madness that will ensue afterwards.) So what’s a writer to do? Well, either pony up the dough from your life savings and take a chance, or fork over just $49.99 on Planetwide Media’s Comic Book Creator 2. Just be prepared to give something back. Time, and plenty of it.
Comic Book Creator 2 is the second complete version of Planetwide Media’s unique vision of helping the average Joe with big ideas make that comic book come to life. The first release was a valiant effort, as the writer actually controlled his idea to great lengths without compromise or defeat. When you have too many hands in the pot, things are going to change, so CBC was exciting that the comic book could get done by just one person for the most part. Unfortunately, CBC Version 1 was plagued by many issues like the huge extra spaces in the lettering, the PDF publisher, online support, and the awkward layout where zoom doesn’t necessarily show you the right size. It was a great idea that had me excited personally because I was poor and it only cost I think $29.99 at the time. I used it until it couldn’t be used anymore. Mainly because I was looking to make professional comic books, and CBC Version 1 just wasn’t cutting it. I wasn’t a kid messing around on the ’puter. I was an aspiring comic book creator. So I went to the message boards and got it done while breaking the bank. But I was still hoping CBC would improve the program with another release, and Voila! Here it is. Thanks for listening!
Version 2 appears to have acknowledged that need for professionalism to some degree, but still a little off in some areas. The lettering in the captions is fixed a bit more, though the style selection is still very limited with the majority looking a little too cartoony. The dialogue balloons are also easier to condense, but those damn pointers will poke an eye out their so sharp. The zoom tool is still a little annoying as I’m used to Photoshop and Illustrator allowing me to see what will be printed clearly, and that’s probably my biggest pet peeve with the program: Zoom vs. Actual. The PDF editor appears to be adjusted, and the editing interface gives more options on the fly without having to click down from the top menu too much (a feature I can’t stand in many professional programs like Dreamweaver and Illustrator). It’s very comfortable to look at which is important because in order to use it to full capacity and to create something you can show at a comic book convention, you’re going to need some time to master it. I, and I’m sure most people want something that will compete with DC or Marvel Comics, which is ironic since this version is the Marvel pack, and that’s one of the debatable bonuses of the program.
Marvel Comics has loaned many pieces of art to this, and it’s great art to boot. Big name artists, and cool characters like Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Elektra are plentiful in creating their story. But that’s where it’s debatable on it being a plus. There is limited amount of pictures to use, and difficult to create your own story really as the art has already lended itself to a previous story. On top of that, my favorite Marvel characters that I’d want to write about aren’t there, unless it’s Spider-Man on a drinking binge or Wolverine eating his own arm stuck in space. (Hey, it’ll grow back!) So it’s not a feature I would be interested in. So for those that are just starting out in the comic book making process, this is actually a neat addition to warm up with and get to know how paneling works and lettering while staring at Elektra’s jugs. For those that already have a feel or are above amateur level, it’s not a feature that will be used too much. So that’s where time is needed in finding a professional route through the program.
Comic Book Creator 2 is a great step up from the initial release, with many tweaks and improvements, and is pretty close to being able to lend its hand into making comics that professionals will accept. And while webcomics are getting more popular by the minute, I see HyperComics, a website that Planetwide Media uses for creators to upload their work on for the world to see being one of the main keys in stepping out of the toy section and into the computer store. I think if Planetwide Media concentrates more on this need for professionalism with a third release, then this software will really take off. Because I have a ton of ideas and no money, so I’m counting on people like Planetwide Media to help me put money in the bank and get me where’d I like to be: Sipping coffee with Joe.