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Dig Comics: Feature-Length Challenges

Columnist Miguel Cima, director/host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics, looks at what makes comics so great, and what’s holding them back.

digcomicsAs we prepare for the next stage of Dig Comics, we’ve been asked to describe how we will overcome the challenges of filming the feature. I had a tough time answering that because all filming presents the same challenges. Nothing seemed special in my first few responses. But then I realized, this isn’t about filming at all. It’s about the mission. It always has been. Surely, this is no get-rich-quick scenario. My whole premise is that comics has far too low of an audience. As you can imagine, that’s left a gaping hole in my pitches. After all, who wants to finance a project with a dwindling core audience? So it occurred to me that the real issue isn’t about film at all. It’s really about comics, my life-long commitment to them, and my unstoppable desire to give something back to this wonderful, under-appreciated art form. And here’s what I came up with:

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Miguel Cima on-camera

For the last seven years, our crew has been working passionately to bring DIG COMICS to a wider audience, most of us working regular office day jobs outside of the entertainment industry, spending our evenings, weekends and holidays laboring to make our goal a reality. We’ve had to juggle everything from film permits, to logistics, to scheduling, and of course – the unexpected. It’s always a matter of preparing as best you can, combined with quick thinking, holding a seasoned crew close at hand to draw from their own hard-earned lessons. So far, we’ve only filmed in Los Angeles and San Diego, pretty much our back yard. The future holds the same sort of challenges with a new twist: extensive travel to places none of us have worked in before.

There will be cultural differences, language barriers, the hazards of working in highly urbanized areas, different expectations and the knowledge that there will be no chance for reshoots down the road. Unlike Los Angeles, we can’t simply come back and film another day. Our budget is skin tight, affording none of us the luxury of quitting the day job.

So there will be no second chances – it all has to work on the first go-around. That’s where a little magic has to come in, magic supported by wide open senses and a deep faith in the core truth of what we are chasing down. Some of our best moments have already come on our most disastrous days, at times from elements added at the last moment, or by a whim of fate.

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The Dig Comics film crew (left to right): Chris Brandt, Stanley Gonzales, and Justin Talley

Our love of comics and our determination to fulfill our mission attracts great happenstance. This is said with all sincerity – the love for what we do produces opportunities. Our willingness to accept an unforeseen change of plan will leave room for providence to materialize. We have learned to be organized and confident enough to let it all go at a moment’s notice and flow with the stream. So far this approach has taken us very far, but we now realize to continue this journey, we need YOU to come along with us.

We look forward to our most difficult days with great anticipation, as they will produce our very best work. DIG COMICS has a life of its own: we are not its creators, but its partners. We work in that spirit, combining our discipline and diligence with reverence for the powers beyond our sight which accompany us in everything we do.

Argentinean-born New Yorker and NYU film school graduate Miguel Cima is a veteran of film, television and music. He has worked for such companies as Warner Bros., Dreamworks and MTV. An avid comic book collector since he could read, Miguel began writing stories in 4th grade and has not slowed down since. He is a world traveler, accomplished writer, filmmaker, and comics creator. He is the writer, director and host of the award-winning documentary Dig Comics. Follow Dig Comics on Facebook. Read more of Miguel’s comic book recommendations.

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Read It: Far Flung Calendar Uses Comics to Tell Story Every Day of the Year

Far Flung 2012 Calendar - frontComic books and graphic novels typically tell stories using panels, or little boxes, lined up one after the other in a sequence depicting different moments in time. Similarly, most calendars use boxes to visually represent the sequence of days in each month. Along comes cartoonist Chris Brandt, who noticed this similarity and ingeniously merged the two into what may be the first calendar comic book.

The Far Flung 2012 Calendar uses each month to tell a chapter in a year-long adventure of four cartoon animals. The top image serves as the splash page, and then each day of the month is one panel or moment in that chapter, just like a long comic strip. It’s a fun, funny adventure of a sheep escaping from a farm with the help of a rabbit, turtle and ring-tailed lemur. The quartet steal a car and head off for freedom and cute shenanigans!

Originally made as a 2000 calendar with a very limited print run (only 300 copies were made), Chris Brandt updated it for 2012 with an equally limited print run at the insistence of friends. But this time he’s made the calendar available as a free downloadable PDF that anyone can print out and hang on their wall to enjoy for the whole year.

More pictures are below, or check out the mini-gallery I made. For more on Chris Brandt, who is also serving as a producer with me on Dig Comics, check out his website Bainst.com.

Far Flung 2012 Calendar - January

Far Flung 2012 Calendar - May close-up