Marvel Iron Man Artist Sean Chen: Web3 Is a ‘Paradigm Shift’ for Comedian Creators

 Marvel Iron Man Artist Sean Chen: Web3 Is a ‘Paradigm Shift’ for Comedian Creators



Comedian e-book artist Sean Chen—who lower his tooth illustrating “Iron Man,” “Avengers,” and “Spider-Man” collection for Marvel—has left the standard comics business behind to supply his personal work leveraging Web3 expertise. 

With the assistance of Web3 startup 247 Comics, Chen is creating a brand new NFT-driven comedian e-book collection referred to as “Genesis”—and for the primary time, he’s entering into the author’s seat, as properly.

“Genesis” follows Asian-American scientist Lucas Zhang and his daughter, who’ve a tenuous relationship. It grapples with issues surrounding robotics, huge companies, militarism, and immortality. It even contains biting allusions to Disney—all whereas providing a mixture of darkish humor and sci-fi motion with characters Chen dreamed up himself.

The story’s first subject affords quite a lot of vignettes to arrange the world. Gritty navy scenes of large robots with distant human operators are juxtaposed in opposition to the pastel theme park of Bobo World, a spot that is cheery on the floor however supplies darker experiences for adults. 

Chen will provide followers Ethereum NFTs of the work’s characters, with the purpose of offering readers with a brand new sense of possession and fandom within the digital age. Chen and 247 Comics Writer Carl Choi have already launched one of many characters—a large gorilla named Bobo—as a fractionalized NFT which acts as an early-access cross to chose 247 Comics content material.

The “Biplane Bobo” NFTs alone have seen over 553 ETH (practically $900,000) in whole quantity traded up to now. Chen and Choi shared that plans for extra characters to turn into NFTs is probably going on the horizon, though likely received’t be fractionalized like Bobo. 

Marvel Cash

Over the course of his profession in comics, Chen labored for Marvel, DC Comics, and Valiant. However whereas he was prolific and labored on comics based mostly on among the best-known characters in leisure, Chen informed Decrypt that making a residing within the conventional comics business is an ongoing wrestle for a lot of artists.

“There’s very predictable gross sales and there’s a really predictable path this stuff undergo,” he stated. “And it is often not a really fairly image.”

Echoing acquainted refrains from different creators within the business, Chen defined that whereas comedian e-book publishers have raked in income from blockbuster motion pictures and precious licensing offers, little of that income has trickled down the company ladder to the precise comedian e-book artists.

Actually, some comic creators, like Thanos creator Jim Starlin, have fought again in opposition to Marvel for truthful compensation when their characters are used to energy profitable film franchises. And Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, who developed the Winter Soldier storyline which was then tailored for movie “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” stated in 2021 that every one they acquired was a “thanks right here or there” from Marvel.

“What actually acquired me is that these motion pictures—clearly everybody’s seen them, and so they’re all family names and so they’ve performed phenomenally properly,” Chen informed Decrypt. “And so they made Marvel and Disney some huge cash.”

“However it was born from concepts from creators who, quite a lot of occasions, they’ve aged out [of the industry] now and so they cannot afford well being care. They’re simply in actually unhealthy form,” he continued. “Numerous that does not filter again to the unique creators.”

Actually, Chen himself believes that he has had a significant affect over Marvel’s cinematic portrayal of Iron Man. Chen labored on dozens of problems with “Iron Man” throughout his time with Marvel, in addition to many problems with “Wolverine” during which Iron Man seems. 

Choi defined that Chen’s Iron Man designs “are sometimes utilized by Marvel licensing as model guides for distributors trying to license the property.” Chen additionally confirmed that Marvel has repeatedly cited his Iron Man take as a key reference.

“My run on Iron Man falls in a candy spot the place a lot of the traditional, iconic look [is] blended with the fashionable day aesthetics,” the artist informed Decrypt.

Decrypt reached out to Marvel for remark concerning the usage of Chen’s Iron Man designs and its method to compensating creators for film and media use, however didn’t instantly hear again.

Web3’s Wild West

Whereas discovering success—particularly monetary success—as an artist within the comics business is way from sure, Chen nonetheless noticed the soar to Web3 as a dangerous, however vital transfer. 

“I’m in a lucky place the place I do not actually need to desperately work to place meals on the desk,” he informed Decrypt. “So that permits me to take the massive gamble and do some writing for the primary time and really take management of the mission, after which have this daring approach of placing it out.”

However the comics business has already seen backlash in opposition to NFTs, as many expressed frustration on the likes of “Decide Dredd” co-creator Pat Mills and the property of Marvel legend Stan Lee for releasing NFTs.

Picture Comics equally took flak in 2022 for placing a Bored Ape Yacht Membership NFT character on a comic book e-book cowl, and Archie Comics nonetheless has but to launch its Archieverse initiative—which might see it construct a digital writers’ room of NFT holders—after vital pushback to final 12 months’s announcement.

“There’s quite a lot of resistance from the group,” Chen stated. “They actually wish to cling to the best way issues had been performed previously, which I am undecided why—as a result of for probably the most half, it is not very profitable.”

Like many musicians, filmmakers, and creators leaning into Web3, Chen sees NFTs and tokenization as a strategy to set up a extra direct connection between artists and followers.

“This new mannequin, it is extra from creator to the reader or client,” he stated, including that the standard comedian business is anchored by firms which can be “only a machine” and that the mannequin “exploits quite a lot of the creatives” behind the books.

Whereas he does see some previous profile image (PFP) NFT tasks launched by others as “money grabs,” Chen doesn’t assume which means individuals ought to surrender on the expertise or its potential.

“I feel most individuals with a mind can type of see that is the place issues are going,” Chen stated of “digital collectibles,” a time period that some firms—like on-line group platform Reddit—use as a synonym for NFTs.

As he appears to the way forward for comics, Chen isn’t involved about traditionalists preferring bodily points over digital. He believes his personal work “appears a lot better on digital,” and that digital experiences assist readers “truly enter the house” and have interaction.

The Web3 comics world is, as of now, however a fledgling business. That stated, Chen and 247 Comics should compete with the likes of “The Starvation Video games” co-producer Bryan Unkeless and his crew creating “Runner,” in addition to the Huxley NFT comics created by famous idea artist Ben Mauro which have yielded practically $9 million value of buying and selling quantity so far.

No matter pushback from some followers and the unsure path ahead, Chen stays optimistic about the way forward for Web3 comics.

“That is the very first thing that is an actual paradigm shift in the best way comics are consumed,” he stated.

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