Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente wrap up their second “pay what you want” digital comic today, as the fifth issue of Barrier arrives on the Panel Syndicate site.
Barrier was the second project from the trio, following the Eisner Award-winning The Private Eye. Billed as “an unconventional drama about violence, language and illegal immigration,” the first issue of Barrier arrived somewhat quietly back in December of 2015, with further issues showing up with little hype. More importantly, though, is that Barrier proved as interesting as its predecessor, as Vaughan and Martin showed why they’re at the top of their game. Issue five sticks the landing, and you have to wonder — what comes next?
Their Twitter feed suggest that this may be it for the team:
— PanelSyndicate (@PanelSyndicate) July 25, 2017
Hopefully they just mean it’s their last outing on Barrier, and we’ll soon see a new series from them. Crossing my fingers …
Update: Via email, Vaughan pays mad props to Martin for his work on Barriers and Panel Syndicate, noting they plan to add more series to the site this year:
I met Marcos (and his astounding partner in art and life, colorist Muntsa Vicente) way back in 1999, after we were assigned to do a Batman story together, and I discovered that the normally Barcelona-based artist was improbably staying right around the corner from me on West 10th in Manhattan. We’ve been friends and collaborators ever since, in no small part because Marcos and I are both miserable bald weirdos. This pay-what-you-want comics site we’ve been working on for the past five years was entirely Marcos’ batshit idea. He believed the internet had the potential to help turn comics back into an affordable medium for everyone, instead of an expensive hobby for the relatively affluent. Even though Marcos could be getting paid a healthy page rate to draw pretty much any existing superhero he wanted, he chose to self-publish an original story for zero upfront pay, because a) he thinks it’s important that our medium continue to tell new stories that creators own and control, and b) he believed enough of you generous folks out there would throw a little scratch our way to eventually make the effort worthwhile.
I’m still bewildered that his scheme actually worked, and that our site has somehow already expanded to host Albert Monteys’ Eisner-nominated triumph UNIVERSE!, as well as David López’s brilliant super-heroic comedy BLACKHAND IRONHEAD. And I’m happy to announce that we’ll be adding at least a couple more excellent new series from some of our favorite creators before the end of the year.
Anyway, after Marcos and I finished our first Panel Syndicate series THE PRIVATE EYE, I pitched him some new ideas for possible followups, and the bastard kept pushing me for a story that would be more challenging, at least for us. The result was BARRIER. We recognized that an untranslated, bilingual (trilingual if you count alien-speak) comic about immigration wasn’t exactly destined to be a commercial hit, but Marcos and I were both excited to see if we could tell a story about the way language can divide us, by using the (hopefully?) universal language of comics.
More than any project I’ve ever been a part of, Marcos did ALL of the heavy lifting on this one, spending the last year of his life designing and drawing this nearly 200-page story, translating my scripts into multiple languages (sometimes with the aid of local embassies!), and even lettering the entire series himself. And again, he did all of this obsessively detailed work “on spec,” for absolutely no money upfront. But starting today, 100% of whatever we earn from your contributions for this or any previous issues of BARRIER will go directly to Marcos, Muntsa and their awesome boys Nil and Teo. If you can afford to pay something for this issue (or for any issue of our work, including our original WALKING DEAD: THE ALIEN one-shot), you’ll be directly supporting this kick-ass family of artists.
Vaughan also says he’ll be taking over the Panel Syndicate Twitter feed on Friday, so prepare your questions for him.