Back when he was studying design and digital arts at Edinburgh Napier University, one of his projects there was a superhero named “Captain Sidewalk”. One day, as he was walking to university, a big square of sidewalk plates looked to him like a blank page from a comic book, and he got the idea to fill these frames with a superhero comic. He thought: A superhero appears on a spot out of nowhere, takes care of business, saves everyone and disappears – and you’re lucky if you manage to see him/her. Same with comics made with chalk – they appear on a spot in the city, and they disappear after few days just to reveal themselves in another spot.
Michael Klimczyk in Lodz
Crayola UK even sponsored chalk for this project, and Unicef UK wanted to become a partner. The idea was to send a box of chalk to everyone who’s interested, ask them to draw a Captain Sidewalk story, collect all the stories in a book and sell it. The revenue was meant to support the Unicef causes. The idea behind is that real superheroes are the ones who want to use their talent to save children, and that you don’t have to give money to help, you just have to offer your skills.
Brian Azzarello asked what kind of superpowers Captain Sidewalk has. Klimczyk told him “at the moment he doesn’t have any superpowers, but more people will draw him, the stronger he will get.”
Due to health issues, he couldn’t finish the project.
But during his presentation at the Lodz festival, Klimczyk gave the listeners chalk, told them this story and explained that even the best ideas may not always work if you’re doing it alone. It’s important to collaborate, support one another and work together because together, people can achieve more.
And that is the high concept of COMICSPRING - All of the website’s stories are free to be picked up and continued. Every artist who creates a profile will be able to publish their comics, but they will also be allowed to continue an existing one.
However, the website is also founded on a profit-oriented idea. It’s a well-known fact that the market for conventional, printed comic books is shrinking. Finding a full-time, profitable job in comics isn’t easy. The solution, or at least attempted solution for many, has been to give web comics a try. The developer COMICSPRING intends to share advert revenue with its users. The website even has merchandising ambitions, as COMICSPRING also wants to collaborate with toy producers, and give companies access to creative people. There are also plans for an online store in the future, which of course isn’t that unusual for a sufficiently popular web comic site.
Rough draft of the first comics menu
But since there is some degree of marketing thinking involved, COMICSPRING have split their existing comic titles into five categories: Music, superheroes, “real love”, “real stories”, and cities. Some of these may overlap, since some of the superhero and “real love” stories are also focused on specific cities (there’s already both a “Captain Edinburgh” and a “Captain Cracow” comic on the website). Klimczyk was inspired to collect love stories after reading Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s famous comic book Young Romance, which claimed to recount true-life courtships. As far as the music theme goes, the website has established business relations with people like Pantera-founder Max Cavalera, producer Lee Scratch Perry and Polish thrash metal band Acid Drinkers.
At the moment when I’m writing this, Michael and his co-operators have yet only to release a prototype platform, which is not intended to be available for the general public. Some comic titles and images are listed, but the comic strips and pages have not been released. The platform doesn't predict profit sharing, or profit generating options. However, it is being developed with investors in mind. - Without investors we won't be able to prepare a fully planned, commercial version, Klimczyk explains.
- To create an environment in which the talent of a vastly growing number of artists in Europe and all over the world can be put to good use.
- To properly adapt comics to the Internet and develop a mechanism which allows artists to work together to create bigger things, earn money from what they do best, and do self-promotion at the same time.
- To exchange information about places and cultures through storytelling – At COMICSPRING, we like to think that when they met at designated places or camps, they used to tell each other stories for entertainment, Klimczyk explains on the website. - Then, some would take the stories to other fire camps, presenting them to a different audience. People from the audience would share these stories with other listeners and so on. That is how stories developed into legends and then into a complex mythological structure.