The New Way of Comics by Alex Correa
Toronto-native and comic creator Cameron Stewart was in town recently promoting his latest hardcover for Sin Titulo from Dark Horse Comics. Quite possibly his opus, Stewart crafted it over the span of six years which has won him several prestigious awards, solidified his status in the upper echelon of respectable creators in the medium and lead to more prosperous work on popular mainstream franchises. As impactful and engaging an experience that Sin Titulo holds for prospective buyers, the not-so-hidden truth is that it is a compilation of episodic webcomics, meaning that it is available in its entirety online for free.
What does this mean to readers, be they casual buyers or voracious consumers as the dreaded fanboy/girls tend to be? Well, they can engage with a highly lauded comic series online with the guilt-free sensation unknown to the common torrent user. And therein lies the inevitable conceit when it comes to publications originally found online. Whether it's a critically acclaimed digital work like Sin Titulo or juvenile fodder like the Sh*t My Dad Says paperback, it's difficult to justify the purchase of either book when their respective contents could be easily found through a Google search on one's cell phone. Then what places a book like Cameron Stewart's to a higher standard than most other digital-to-print offerings?
A quick glance through the pages of Sin Tiitulo will show that it is not an experience to be shared with the mind numbing motions that internet browsing entails. Advertised as a surrealist mystery story told through a noir-style the book mixes Stewart's own life experiences with profound deliberations on art, reality and life. The "Sunday funnies" type of panel layout and format is one that dares readers to rush past its pages. However, it's Stewart indelible art style that slows the eyes in admiration of the amount of detail and emotion captured in every frame to tell his complex narrative. It's the story of a middling young man, Alex Mackay, who finds himself delving into his recently deceased grandfather's past for answers on a puzzling photograph left in a box of remains. The more about the mystery that Alex unravels, the more insidious and frighteningly dangerous the answers become until he is jobless, loveless, on the run from the police and chasing ghosts.
Before starting work on Sin Titulo, Cameron Stewart had already successfully traversed into mainstream comics by drawing cultural comic book icon, Batman and working with some of the most widely known writers in the medium. Could it be said that it was not an effort fuelled by monetary gains but instead a work of pure self expression? According to Transmission X (TX) Comics, the webcomic collective that produced this and other independent projects, it is exactly that reason. Here is a blurb from their website:
Transmission X is a collective of professional illustrators and cartoonists who are united by their desire to produce top-flight comics. Recognizing the potential of the internet to be a primary source of art and entertainment, and motivated by their interest in producing exciting, personal work free from commercial and editorial constraint, the artists of TX have all worked to create some of the highest-quality comics yet seen on the web.
In truth, they have not only achieved these goals of setting a high standard for quality webcomics but have demonstrated an incredible potential found outside of the mainstream Marvel or DC Comics but the potential found locally as TX Comics is based out of Toronto.
From 2007 to 2012, Sin Titulo entertained a strictly online audience who got to witness Cameron Stewart's evolution both artistically and professionally. Whether a traditionalist accustomed to sifting through pages with delicate fingertips, or a modern reader tapping a screen with furious fingertips, Sin Titulo deserves to be read in any form. Placing a value on the story only manages to diminish its worth.