Pointless Nonsense

Posted in comics by Bill on July 15, 2011

It’s a testament to what a Warren Ellis fanboy I am that I bought SVK without knowing a single thing about the plot, just having heard the gimmick: some of the content is printed in invisible ink, and it ships with a small black light to reveal the hidden words and pictures. Interestingly, the story (about a spy-type guy in future London, hired to recover a missing prototype) actually ties into the gimmick perfectly. It’s about surveillance, augmented reality, and privacy, three things that already appeal to me, so it’s not surprising that I enjoyed the hell out of it.

There is also some prose content: a foreword by William Gibson, an essay on augmented reality (with some disturbing predictions on the monetization of the ability to look at things), and another essay on the history of visual tricks in comics (which included these Old Man Muffaroo comics from the early 20th century, which are 6 panels read normally then flipped upside down and re-read to get the second half of the story… it’s weird but impressive).

It’s not all good, though. I didn’t count, but I think the whole thing was a normal comic size (32 pages, with some ads), but it cost £10, plus shipping and the currency conversion fee from my credit card company, which ran the whole thing up to about $35, more than I’ve ever paid for even oversized hardcover collections. The UV ink both rubbed off on opposite pages and bled through to the page behind it, so quite often there would be faint impressions of invisible stuff when I shined the light, but upon looking closer I would see backwards text. The UV torch (it is British, after all) itself is a little hard to keep lit, since the power button is oddly sensitive about exactly where you pinch to keep it on.

On the plus side, the paper was really high quality. The packaging and torch were both designed to fit the story. Everything, in fact, was very well designed (which I suppose you should expect, since it was published by a design company rather than a comics publisher). There’s a weird mix of fake ads and real ads, both of which incorporate the UV ink, but since the real ads are mostly for products I’ve never heard of, I honestly didn’t know that some of them were real until I looked them up (which I suppose is a big win on the part of the advertisers). I should also point out that I was pleasantly surprised with D’israeli’s clean, simple art. The only thing I’d read of his before was Lazarus Churchyard, which, though story appropriate for a drug-heavy, depressing cyberpunk kinda thing, was muddled and weird and I didn’t like the look of it at all.

SVK sold out in 2 days, but they’re expecting a second print run. Overall, it was probably not worth the money. Unless you have money to burn or you’re in the UK, in which case it totally is.

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2 Responses

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  1. joseph said, on July 15, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Speaking of augmented reality, this is one of my favorite exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago,
    http://www.keiichimatsuda.com/augmented.php

    • Bill said, on July 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

      The crank to raise the advertising level is quite cool. But why you’d need a visual cue to tell you when to pee is beyond me, that’s one of the things I think our bodies do pretty well at.


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