Heroes worship: Reinventing comics online

John Gushue
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You dont have to be a comic book fan to enjoy NBCs hit series Heroes, although it would probably help.

The show an amalgam of thriller, superhero adventure, science fiction and fantasy literally lifts motifs right out of comic books themselves, right down to the lettering used onscreen.

Small wonder, then, that the creators of the series post a comic book um, make that an online novel on the official Heroes website.

Heroes: Online Novel


Heroes offers lots of rich content for fans to enjoy, including what other prime-time hits offer: video clips, interactive fan material and so on. But theres not much else that matches the comic book that not only complements the show (I became a fan during the fall, when the watercooler chatter of colleagues became too curious to ignore), but adds to it, too.

Look for the online novel link on the main page its next to extras and games and then choose whether youd like to view the interactive version (fun, if you have a broadband connection and a little patience) or the version ready for printing (preferable, if you just gotta have your copy, and youre OK with burning through your printers colour cartridge).

Back when I was a kid, I was a major comic book fan, migrating from the DC to Marvel universe as I got older and more interested in deeper plotlines.

Eventually, though, I just moved on to other things that caught my interest, and comics fell to the side.

Were very much in a superhero culture: just watch the lineups this weekend for the third Spider Man film if youre lacking any proof.

Or, take a gander at the care that goes into an ancillary, web-only project attached to an expensive TV series where Im sure producers are very much mindful of their budgets. My point: they dont need to create the comic book, although its proven to be a great promotional tool for keeping viewer interest piqued.

I dont know how interesting the comic books are if you dont follow the show, but even if you dont, take a look at a how one series is building buzz and, more important, expanding its storytelling options with a unique online product.

A library of back issues is available, by the way.

Elsewhere this week

PB Wiki


Wikipedia has spawned not only a bunch of imitators, but a whole approach to creating Web content. PB Wiki the name comes from peanut butter, with the idea being that making a page should be as easy as making a sandwich is easy to use, and designed for a group exercise.

Some of the examples include classroom projects, for instance, or a family project in which anyone can have a say. No coding is required, and I can see plenty of applications for friends, families, schools and even offices.

Train Trax


My wife crossed Canada by train the other evening. In fact, she stayed up a little late to get it done. Train Trax is a CBC.ca game (ostensibly for kids, although I bet adults will get hooked as easily) about joining together blocks to help a locomotive with its journey. In this case, its across Canada and, yes, it starts (historically appropriately or not) in St. Johns. Click your mouse to keep the blocks moving to keep the track extended. A few minutes, and youll find out why getting that last spike is so persuasive.

Human clock


I wouldnt know how to count all of the various clocks there are to be seen online, including tools from the utilitarian to the bizarre that can be downloaded to your desktop.

This is a Web-based version that is fun to bookmark a bit of programming involving photographs lifted off the Web of human beings making digits. Its certainly an unusual way to get a time check.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBC.ca

in St. Johns. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surfs Up columns

and daily updates at his blog:


Organizations: Wikipedia

Geographic location: Canada

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