Hello dope fRiends!
Happy New Year to you all! New year - new website, new look, new products! Over the course of 2018, the Dope Fiends Comics will be rolling out an entirely new product line - we are pleased to announce our Digital Action Figures!
What's a Digital Action Figure?
Okay, a little background - during the lest ten years of convention appearances and comic shop signings, I've noticed that people respond very well to the style and look of my comic, but (literally) have never commented to me about my story. Well, in response, the course of our business model is changing direction slightly, with Adobe's new real-time animation software, Character Animator.
I always knew that animation would be the next step in my storytelling adventure. Its one of the most common requests I receive. My puppets are stop motion puppets after-all. Adobe Character Animator (or CH to those of us in the 'biz') is a game-changer when it comes to the timing and simplicity of stop motion frame-by-frame animating.
I enjoyed a further epiphany during my thought process regarding CH puppets. First, they take about the same amount of time, as it takes me to crochet an actual physical puppet out of yarn. The benefit comes however when the CH puppet file is digitally duplicated so that there is enough stock available for everyone! This was something that I could do, that was easily marketable and didn't need any overhead or production costs at all.
Creatively this caused the realization that I didn't actually need to tell a story. I could create a premise with a few characters and then with no need for inventory or packaging deliver a digital action figure (or play set) directly to the user and let them create the stories. That way I can concentrate on the aspect of my art that people react best to, and at the same time empower them to interact with it using their imaginations (and some CH magic!)
Am I Just Lazy?
Without a doubt. But seriously, I have this whole fantasy beginning to brew in my mind where people can download our Digital Action Figures and animate their own videos. Then other users can combine or arrange those videos (from different animators) into "canon" playlists that they feel are the best story progressions or arcs for any given character or action figure group.
What I am suggesting here is an entirely new way of telling stories that involves not only the storyteller, but the audience as well. Kind of like a choose your own adventure cartoon show...
It was incredibly liberating to realize that I could collaborate with the end user this way, and I hope that the idea will catch on and we will see other animators pick up and promote the idea as well.
So What about the Figures?
Oh yeah, I guess you'd like to know about them, huh? So each figure is designed with the playability of a toy in mind. Physical action figures that are close to my heart (think 1980's) always had accessories or outfit changes. Most of the good ones also had some special feature that made them unique among the other toys in the line, so you HAD to get each one.
Our initial line is called the Party Animals and features five Figures and one Play Set. These figures will represent the standard tier of CH puppet available and have an articulated/animated mouth, articulated eyes, draggable arms, accessories triggers, and wardrobe change triggers in addition to CH's remarkable facial capture and real-time animation capabilities.
The Alley play set is loaded with surprises, including an exclusive articulated and draggable Tentacle puppet, 4 animatable and independent cockroaches, multiple triggered cycle layer animations, and even comes with a separate "foreground" Trash Can Fire puppet that you can use to create a bit of depth with your scenes.
With at least two other lines of Digital Action Figures slated for release (as well as upgrades to Tier Two puppets for the Party Animals which will include Head Turner and Walk Behaviors among others) later in 2018 it's going to be an exciting year.
What about those great Dope Fiends narratives though?
Don't worry! We are still working hard on all the stories that we love to tell, and will be continuing work on our own CH series In Your Dreams, which wrapped up Season 1 this Spring and will begin Season 2 later in the fall.
In fact, we will be debuting our comics in digital (.pdf) form later this year at significantly reduced prices! WHAT!! Yes. I said it, you heard it, I said it, but it went, but it went something like... DIGITAL COMICS! This means that as 2018 progresses we will be periodically updating our shop with digital back issues moving toward a 2019 commitment to creating new comics!
Well, thanks for stopping by, but I guess it's time to get back to work, we have loads to do!