Artists use Apple Macs, writers use PCs

Mike Carey, the British comic book author behind American titles The Unwritten, X-Men: Legacy and the superb Lucifer series, has revealed to Pocket-lint that, in his trade at least, a majority of artists use Macs, while writers use PCs.

Speaking exclusively to us while promoting his part in the Activision game X-Men: Destiny (he wrote the branching storyline), Carey also explained that the comic book industry has radically changed over the last few years, thanks to the intervention, and invention, of technology. And not always for the better, with BitTorrent piracy, for example.

Plus, he was keen to point out that he still prefers the physical feel of a comic book itself - even though the industry is rapidly increasing its digital presence.

Here's our chat in full:

Pocket-lint: Mac or PC (or pen and paper)?

Mike Carey: PC. Most of the artists I know use Macs, and most of the writers I know use PCs. That seems to be pretty stable over time. PCs have always been cheaper, and I only make low-level demands on my system most of the time. I believe a lot of what I hear about how amazingly versatile and reliable Macs are: I just don’t really need that much from a computer.

What’s the difference between writing for a game and writing a comic book series - do you have to consider multiple paths and endings?

The biggest difference is that you can follow all of the different possible consequences from one action - have branching storylines. That’s an exciting freedom. With a monthly comic book, if you stay on it for long enough, every story you tell closes off the possibility of telling half a dozen others. You take characters down a particular path, ignoring the other ways they could have gone and the other courses of action they could have taken. In a video game, you can have your cake and eat it too. You can allow genuine choice and let the player control the story.

The pacing of a game is very different, too. The story logic feels more like the logic of a movie screenplay than like an episodic book told in chapters.

In one sense, though, they’re the same. You have to make character be the focus and let action arise out of character, so it feels real and carries weight within the story.

Do you keep in touch with the whole game development process?

There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as the game came together, which I think is how it has to be. Some of the things I was asking for were hard to embed in game design, and some great ideas were born out of the design teams saying “can we maybe use this?” So we talked, and we negotiated, and we redrafted. But I was less involved once we got to the final workable draft - so I’m expecting a few surprises (pleasant ones) when I actually play the game.

What is it about the X-Men that you love?

The characters, first and foremost. I grew up with them. I read the original book when I was a kid, then I was drawn back into reading comics in my late teens by Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men. They’ve always been in my life, in one incarnation or another, and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done has been to add some chapters to that ongoing story.

Has technology changed the way you work over the years - for example, has it changed comic books and the industry?

Oh yeah, without a doubt. When I started writing comics, which was in a previous millennium, email didn’t even exist. Comic scripts were sent by fax, which meant you were feeding every sheet through the machine and trusting that it was coming out where it was supposed to, a continent away.

All creative media has been changed out of recognition again and again as new tech has been incorporated. Digital colouring and lettering, bootleg torrents, bespoke software for scriptwriting and editing, social networking sites and message boards, they’ve all left their mark. We work faster now - and then get frustrated that we can’t work faster still.

Do you envisage a day when all comics are only delivered digitally (to iPads and the like)?

I’m a hard sell on these things. I still like the physical object - its texture and smell and weight and heft. I still have a vinyl collection! But I’m sure the day will come, and like all changes of that magnitude it will be bittersweet. Amazing things will become possible; and something invisible will have been lost.  But only for my generation. The next generation won’t even miss it.

The Mike Carey-scripted X-Men: Destiny is available now for Xbox 360, Wii, PS3 and DS. It's currently available for between £25 and £40 (depending on the format).

What do you think of the technological changes in comic book production and delivery? Are you a fan of digital editions, or do you prefer the good old paper version? Let us know in the comments below...

Pic: Flickr / peterjr1961