Alongside Samsung, LG was one of the first major manufacturers to jump on the “bezel-less” bandwagon. Barring some minor niggles about audio quality and storage space, we loved the LG G6 (check out our full impressions in our LG G6 review), so we’re understandably excited about the impending U.S. release of the LG V30. There are plenty of reasons why we’re excited — the V30 is bringing improved audio, a stunning 6-inch bezel-less OLED screen, and the raw power of the Snapdragon 835.
But it’s not just Samsung and LG in the bezel-less game now. Other companies are starting to catch on, and bezel-less concepts are popping up left, right, and center. Apple recently threw its hat into the ring with the iPhone X — its vision of a bezel-free future. With Apple’s newest and most powerful A11 Bionic processor, a 5.8-inch Super Retina OLED screen, and all the usual iOS polish, the iPhone X is a serious contender looking to rule the roost for the Cupertino, California giant. But who has the edge in this battle of the titanic screens? Which phone should you put your money behind? We take a look at both the LG V30 and the iPhone X in this head-to-head, and see how they fare when trading blows.
|iPhone X||LG V30|
|Size||143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 mm (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.30 inches)||151.7 x 75.4 x 7.4 mm (5.97 x 2.97 x 0.29 inches)|
|Weight||174 grams (6.14 ounces)||158 grams (5.57 ounces)|
|Screen||5.8-inch Super Retina OLED display||6-inch P-OLED display|
|Resolution||2,436 x 1,125 pixels (458 ppi)||2,880 x 1,440 pixels (537 ppi)|
|OS||iOS 11||Android 7.1.2|
|Storage||64GB, 256GB||64GB, 128GB (on the V30+)|
|MicroSD card slot||No||Yes, up to 256 GB|
|NFC support||Yes (Apple Pay only)||Yes|
|Processor||A11 Bionic with 64-bit architecture, M11 motion co-processor||Snapdragon 835, with Adreno 540|
|Connectivity||4G LTE, GSM, CDMA, HSPA+, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi||GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi|
|Camera||Dual 12 MP rear, 7MP FaceTime HD front||Dual 16MP and 13MP wide angle rear, 5MP wide angle front|
|Video||Up to 4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps||Up to 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 120fps|
|Bluetooth||Yes, version 5.0||Yes, version 5.0|
|Fingerprint sensor||No, has Face ID instead||Yes|
|Other sensors||Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer||Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, proximity sensor|
|Water resistant||Yes, IP67 rated||Yes, IP68 rated|
21 hours of talk time, 13 hours of internet, 14 hours of video playback, and up to 60 hours of audio playback
Fast charging – 50 percent charge in 30 minutes, wireless charging (Qi standard)
QuickCharge 3.0 fast charging, wireless charging (Qi standard)
|Marketplace||Apple App Store||Google Play Store|
|Colors||Space Gray, Silver||Cloud Silver, Moroccan Blue|
|Availability||AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Apple||AT&T, LG|
|DT review||Hands-on review||Hands-on review|
Apple’s A10 Fusion processor, which powered the iPhone 7, was still capable of showing the door to the Galaxy S8’s Snapdragon 835, so it comes as no surprise that the upgraded A11 Bionic is capable of thoroughly wiping the floor with the competition. The Snapdragon 835 in the LG V30 is going to put up a good fight but, based on tests of the A11, the iPhone X is far superior to the V30 in terms of pure power. That doesn’t mean that the V30 is a slow phone. On the contrary — the Snapdragon 835 is a very respectable processor, packing tons of power and scoring highly on Geekbench’s tests. So, while the iPhone X is the more powerful handset, that should be seen as a salute to the power of the A11 Bionic chip, rather than a black mark against the Snapdragon 835 in the V30.
In terms of RAM, the V30 hosts a whole extra gigabyte of RAM compared to the iPhone X, which is currently rumored to have only 3GB of RAM. That being said, it’s hard to say whether you’ll actually be able to feel the difference between the two. Android and iOS deal with memory management differently, so pure numbers can’t dictate real-life performance when comparing iPhones to Androids.
It’s a similar story when it comes to hard drive capacity. Apple offers models with 64GB and 256GB hard drives, while LG only offers 64GB, with 128GB being available in certain markets with the LG V30+. But, while that’s all you’re ever going to get with the iPhone X, you can boost the LG V30’s available memory by up to 256GB, thanks to a MicroSD slot. While iPhone users may become annoyed with their eventual lack of storage, and be forced to invest in something like a Leef iBridge, or rely on the iCloud for storage, V30 owners will be able to swap out MicroSD cards whenever they run out of storage. That said, both models do offer a significant amount of space, and diligent users are likely to have plenty of storage for some time to come.
It’s a tough call between the two phones where pure specs are concerned. While the V30 offers slightly more RAM, and the option of expandable storage, it’s hard to beat the iPhone X in terms of raw power.
Winner: iPhone X
Display, design, and durability
Here’s the big category for both of these smartphones; those who live by the screen, die by the screen. Neither phone has anything to be ashamed of in regards to display fidelity. The LG V30 has an always-on, 18:9, 6-inch P-OLED display with a 2,880 x 1,440-pixel resolution. OLED screens are able to display much deeper blacks than LCD or LED screens, because OLED screens can shut down individual pixels that aren’t needed. Thanks to this, media consumption on the V30 looks amazing, especially on videos that can handle the 18:9 aspect ratio — Daredevil on Netflix looks incredible. However, on videos that don’t support such a weird aspect ratio, you’re stuck with massive black bars on either side of your screen, and as of yet, LG has not included a Samsung-like crop to fit option on YouTube videos.
The iPhone X is also packing a massive screen. It’s 5.8-inches in size, with a resolution of 2,436 x 1,125 pixels. The display fills the whole front of the phone, save the distinctive “notch” at the top. This screen is an AMOLED display (don’t be fooled by the “Super Retina” name), and comes with all the same advantages that the V30’s screen offers, with the ability to show blacker-than-black blacks, and deep, vibrant colors. Apple’s new True Tone technology also shifts the color temperature of the display to match the light in your surrounding area — a plus for activities like reading from the screen, but a nice touch nonetheless. Because of the notch, you’re going to have bars at the sides or a section cut-out if you go full screen with videos and other content.
Long-time iPhone users may be put off by the lack of Apple’s iconic home button, and only time (and the efficiency of FaceID) will tell whether this decision was the right one — though one suspects this will be a minor issue. Perhaps Apple intends the top notch to become the iPhone’s new icon? This small design choice has made waves in the Apple community, with some decrying it as ugly and invasive. It’s hard to disagree — at the moment, the notch is a blight on the front of a very pretty phone, but a necessary one that packs a host of sensors, a speaker, microphone, and the front-facing camera. Will we get used to it? Maybe. But for now, it’s a design choice that certainly makes the iPhone X stand out from the rest of the bezel-less crowd.
It’s a different story in terms of build quality. Both phones are a blend of metal and glass, as expected of flagship phones in 2017. The iPhone X is part of Apple’s first range of glass-backed phones — so Apple can finally introduce wireless charging. It’s a welcome change. The iPhone X is weighty without being cumbersome. After the almost wraith-like weightlessness of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the addition of a little extra heft is welcome.
By contrast, the V30 suffers the opposite problem, feeling too lightweight for a phone in its price range. During our hands-on review of the V30, it also suffered significant damage from a low drop of three feet — not quite the durability you want, even for a glass-covered smartphone. That said, the V30 is also IP68-rated, compared to the iPhone’s IP67 rating. So the LG phone should stand up to more abuse from water and dust than the iPhone, but we wouldn’t recommend putting them to the test.
Otherwise, the V30 looks great, with a similar design to the LG G6 with slight borders at the top and the bottom of the phone, neatly framing the massive display. It has the fingerprint sensor on the back and also supports wireless charging.
As glass-covered phones, you’ll want to consider covering both the V30 and the iPhone X with a protective case (check out our favorite options for V30 cases and iPhone X cases), since neither are likely to fare well with drops. With that said, the iPhone X is significantly smaller, making it easier to use one-handed, yet it feels more substantial. While “hand-feel” isn’t really something to buy a phone for, it certainly helps make you feel better about a purchase. The iPhone X may not be perfect — the jury’s still out on that notch — but Apple has to take it over LG in this category.
Winner: iPhone X
Battery life and charging
In a time where flagship battery numbers always seem to start with a “3”, Apple’s insistence on the oddly numbered 2,716mAh battery on the iPhone X could put a few power users off. However, Apple has stated that the upgraded efficiency of the A11 Bionic core should mean that the 2,716mAh battery lasts for longer than the numbers would suggest — and given Apple’s record with batteries, this isn’t too hard to believe.
However, it’s hard to see how Apple’s iPhone X could stand up against the raw battery power of the LG V30. In our hands-on review, we noted that the V30 had serious staying power thanks to the 3,300mAh non-removable battery. After taking the phone off the charger at 8 a.m., the V30 made it to 7 p.m. with 50 percent battery, after medium usage. Further heavy usage saw that battery fall to 15 percent by around 11:30 p.m., but that still makes it one of the best performing flagships for battery life, by quite a big margin. Apple’s record on battery life is good (with some blips), but it’s hard to see how the Cupertino, California giant could top that performance.
Both smartphones come with fast charging and wireless charging capabilities, and boast some seriously good fast charging numbers (Apple claim that their new iPhones can charge from 0 – 50 percent in 30 minutes). However, you’ll have to pay extra to get the cable and adapter required to fast-charge the iPhone X, whereas LG provides them in the box with the V30. While more rigorous testing will be needed to validate which of the phones is truly better over time, our money is on the LG V30.
Winner: LG V30
The ability to take good snaps has become an increasingly vital part of a flagship over the last few years. Gone are the days when fuzzy, blurred shots were the norm — we now expect so much more from our cameras, and they’re rising to meet the mark. The increase in the number of dual-camera phones is also on the rise, and it’s two of those we’re dealing with here. The LG V30 is packing two lenses on the rear of the phone; a 16-megapixel lens, coupled with a 13-megapixel wide angle lens.
While most manufacturers are now including a telephoto lens as the second in the set-up, LG have instead gone for a wide angle lens. Whether you’d prefer that or the telephoto lens is a purely personal choice, but you can get some stunning photos from the wide angle lens that are completely different from what other smartphone cameras can provide. The images are clear in good lighting, but are let down somewhat by the low light performance. But LG’s real focus isn’t on stills — it’s on video — and it shows. LG’s new Cine Video allows you to shoot in various colored filters, and the Point and Zoom function lets you zoom in on a specific point in the video — rather than always zooming into the center of the frame. It’s a handy little feature, and a nice touch.
The camera on the iPhone X is somewhat harder to grade since we haven’t had much time to play with it properly yet. But the camera on the iPhone X is likely to be a tweaked version of the twin-snappers on the iPhone 8 Plus — which in turn, is a slightly upgraded version of the iPhone 7 Plus’s camera. While it may sound as if Apple is resting on its laurels, it’s worth pointing out that the iPhone 7 Plus had one of the best cameras we’ve ever seen on a smartphone, and the 8 Plus’s camera was similarly impressive in our iPhone 8 Plus review, and won the top spot on our list of the best smartphone cameras. You don’t have to take our word on it, DxOMark has also given the iPhone 8 Plus the highest score ever for a smartphone camera, and since the iPhone X is Apple’s flagship, we think it’s safe to assume that it will be at least as good.
While we have to speculate a bit on the iPhone X’s part, we know that it shoots 4K video at 60 frames-per-second (compared to the V30’s 30fps), and can capture slow-motion 240fps video at 1080p. By comparison, the V30 can shoot slow-motion at 120fps, and only at 720p. Another plus is that the iPhone X also comes with Apple’s new Face ID recognition system, replacing Touch ID. While the LG V30 also comes with face recognition as a unlocking method, Apple’s Face ID takes that so much further with a system of infra-red 3D-sensing cameras that detect depth and can reportedly work in the dark. Add to this Apple’s new ARKit and Portrait Modes, and the iPhone X comes out on top by a country mile.
Winner: iPhone X
Comparing Android and iOS is like comparing apples and oranges — you likely know if you prefer one over the other by now, and swapping between the two isn’t generally something that happens on a whim, and without some major soul-searching. With that in mind, we’re going to take a quick look at the various elements of each smartphone that make them stand out from the usual in their crowd.
The V30 will be launching with Android Nougat 7.1.2 at launch, but LG has confirmed that they will be working on getting Android Oreo on the device shortly after launch. LG’s spin on Android is fairly light, and we enjoyed playing with the customization options. Of particular note is the Floating Bar — an expandable bar that sits on the edge of your screen and allows quick access to a few apps, screen capture, audio recording, and more. It’s somewhat similar to the Edge Bar on the Galaxy S8 and the Note 8, and it’s something we appreciated during our time with the V30, but it’s easily switched off if you don’t like it. Also added is the ability to choose a different color theme, and various Smart settings that turn off functions like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when you leave your house. These are all things that were previously available via third-party apps, but it’s always nice to see a manufacturer embracing customizable options. And if you want more, you can always access third-party customization apps via the Google Play Store. The V30 also supports Google’s new VR standard, Daydream.
The iPhone X will ship with Apple’s new iOS 11, much like the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Outside of some small changes to the way that various options are accessed, there isn’t much that the iPhone X does that isn’t also available on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. While this is good for parity, it really does mean that the iPhone X doesn’t have much special going for it outside of its physical changes. With that said, iOS 11 is as smooth and responsive as ever, and if you’re a fan (and even if you’re not), you’ll find a lot to love here regardless of a lack of individuality. One thing it does offer, that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus don’t, is support for Animoji — cute animal masks that can be animated with your facial expressions via the same camera system that enables FaceID.
As always, picking between the two operating systems is a matter of personal choice. If you’re a fan of one OS or the other, neither phone’s software is going to do much to sway you the other way. In the time we’ve had to play with these phones, both have been fast, responsive, and great to use.
Pricing and availability
Neither phone is currently available, but the LG V30 will be available from October 5 from AT&T, and will be available from T-Mobile from October 13, after pre-orders open on the 5th. We’re not likely to see the iPhone X until November at the earliest, with pre-orders from Apple opening at the end of October. With that sort of small difference between the two, it’s not really enough to insist that prospective upgraders should buy the V30 instead of wait for the iPhone X.
However, only AT&T and T-Mobile have currently confirmed that they will be stocking the LG V30, restricting buyers to those particular networks for LG’s latest. On the other hand, the iPhone X will be coming to every network, with everyone wanting a cut of the newest Apple pie. So if you’re stuck between these two phones, but aren’t on T-Mobile or AT&T (or don’t want to switch), then you’ve really only got one choice.
The iPhone X is likely to cost north of $1,000 for any model other than the base one — which will set you back $999. Not really much of a difference there. Pricing for the LG V30 hasn’t been confirmed, but if history is anything to go by, it’s likely to cost around $750 on launch. The V30 may also come with Google’s Daydream headset when purchased on AT&T. The difference in price between the two is pretty hefty, despite the V30 not exactly being a budget device, so LG’s phone has to win this round.
Winner: LG V30
Overall winner: iPhone X
While the LG V30 put up a great fight with improvements to the camera, video, battery life, and Google’s new VR system, the day could only ever be carried by Apple’s iPhone X. It’s big, it’s expensive, and it’s Apple finally catching up to the status quo, but it’s just that damn good. Despite the notch at the top of the screen, it looks incredible, too.
In this battle between these two titans, your personal answer may not be that simple. In a direct comparison between the two phones, it’s clear that the iPhone X is the superior smartphone. But what does having Android or iOS mean to you? Your personal thoughts and leanings matter a lot, and anyone wedded to the Android ecosystem shouldn’t be put off the LG V30 by this verdict. It’s still a fantastic phone, and looks to be well worth the investment. But if you’re torn between the two, and OS doesn’t really matter to you, then you should definitely hold out for the iPhone X.
If you want to know how the iPhone X holds up against the rest of Apple’s latest, check out our iPhone X vs. iPhone 8 vs. iPhone 8 Plus breakdown.
These scientists beat the bookies — until the online casino shut them down
There’s no sure thing in gambling, online or otherwise, and if you find a way to game the system, you’ll eventually get caught.
It’s nearly impossible to win money betting on sports, and that’s by design. Whether it’s online or at a casino, the bookmakers who set the betting odds for sports gambling have an array of statistical tools at their disposal to ensure the numbers are always in their favor. But they also have to account for the human factor, and this is where a team of scientists came up with a way to use the bookies’ own calculations against them.
Researcher Lisandro Kaunitz of the University of Tokyo and a few of his friends from around the world devised a mathematical system that let them consistently make money betting on soccer games online. The MIT Technology Review has all the details on the system they used, but to understand it, you have to know how sports betting actually works.
When bookmakers set the odds on a particular match, they use historical data and sophisticated analysis to predict the most likely outcome, and then set the odds of a win, loss, or draw accordingly. Certain teams are more popular than others, of course, and tend to draw more betting action, especially on big events like the Super Bowl. As a result, the oddsmakers may adjust the betting line by a few points one way or the other to compensate for this bias.
Kaunitz and colleagues devised a system that consistently identified betting opportunities that favored them rather than the house. They tracked odds offered by online betting companies on soccer matches and calculated the average odds to discover any outliers. Then they analyzed whether a bet on the outlier matches would favor them or not.
To test their system, they analyzed the results of 479,440 soccer games played between 2005 and 2015. This simulation delivered a return of 3.5 percent. “For an imaginary stake of $50 per bet, this corresponds to an equivalent profit of $98,865 across 56,435 bets,” they said. A random simulation yielded a return of negative 3.2 percent, or a loss of $93,000.
“At this point we decided to place bets with real money,” Kaunitz said. Over a five-month period, their 256 different $50 bets paid off 47.2 percent of the time, and they made a profit of $957.50, an impressive return of 8.5 percent.
But then down came the banhammer.
The online casinos would no longer accept their wagers, or would limit them to amounts as small as $1.25. “The sports betting industry has the freedom to publicize and offer odds to their clients, but those clients are expected to lose,” Kaunitz said. “If they are successful, they can be restricted from betting.”
One of the bookmakers used by the team told the New Scientist it’s the casino’s prerogative to restrict certain bets. “This can be for a number of reasons, including bonus abuse and taking proportionately more than their fair share of special offers and enhanced prices, which are designed for the many rather than a few,” said the spokesman.
What did they do with their winnings? Kaunitz and his wife splurged on a nice dinner in Tokyo. “We were excited, but it’s worth mentioning – you need to spend a lot of time to do it,” he said.
Enlightened Equipment’s Enigma Quilt let us sleep warm and pack light
If you ask a car person what they obsess over, it’s horsepower. For truck enthusiasts, they point to towing capacity. When you pose this same question to a hiker or backpacker, there’s no question the answer is pack weight. Hours are spent cutting excess strap lengths, meticulously weighing each item, and even trimming the length of a toothbrush handle, all to shave those precious ounces.
To put our own obsession over pack weight to the test, we decided to pack Enlightened Equipment’s Enigma Quilt for a trip through the woods. The ideal minimalist quilt when weight and simplicity are critical, it added a bit of a spring to our step and had us feeling as if we were walking in the clouds. After all, it was intently designed to decrease weight and space in a pack and to simplify a backpacker’s sleep system while keeping them warm — something we found it to accomplish with ease.
Specifically, the Enigma features a round sewn-closed foot box which provided more room for our feet while reducing dead air space that needs to be heated. With the foot box sewn closed, it required no fuss or adjustment and shedding the zipper shaved even more weight. This foot box should also prove to be perfect for cold weather trips, as it would help reduce drafts while maintaining maximum warmth.
Founded by avid backpacker, Tim Marshal, Enlightened Equipment specializes in creating custom-to-order ultralight equipment for anyone looking to spend time outdoors and who desires to experience it in the most comfortable way possible.
“A few years after getting into hiking, I went on a quick overnight with some friends,” Marshal told Digital Trends. “They were both lightweight, bordering on ultralight, and gave me a hard time about my 30-pound load for a one-night outing. One of them gave me Ray Jardine’s book and after reading it I was sold. That year , my family got me all the ‘Ray-Way‘ kits for Christmas and I spent the winter building Ray’s gear.”
Tim began making improvements to the actual kits and started developing his own unique designs, ultimately leading to what he makes today.
In the pack and on the trail
For our trip, we tested a six foot long Enigma with 850 down rated at 30 degrees. At first, we were skeptical — it’s not just light, it’s ultralight. At just 15.44 ounces and compressed in its stuff sack, the Enigma is not much larger than a softball, making it feel deceptively delicate. Herein sparked our doubts.
Due to the space-saving size, we were able to fit our entire sleep system, quilt, and sleep mat in the sleeping bag pocket of our backpack, in turn making extra room in the main compartment. This allowed us to make the decision to switch to a smaller pack, along with a combined saving of over 2 pounds in base pack weight. While on the trail, the hike was pleasant with a lighter, smaller pack and we were able to enjoy what may have been a more challenging 12-mile hike toting a heavier load.
Concerning our testing climate, our camp sat at just over 7,000 feet and the overnight temperatures hovered around roughly 35 degrees. Both nights we experienced a comfortable rest, though the quilt was a big difference for anyone used to a mummy bag. With the lack of a zipper and hood, the bag felt a bit drafty but not terribly cold. Packing up to head back out on the trail also made us really appreciate the Enigma’s size and weight all over again.
Placing the order
Even just visiting Enlightened Equipment’s website is like being a kid in a candy store. There are options to buy pre-constructed bags and quilts but the fun is in the fully customizable options. The Enigma uses DownTek-treated water repellant 850, 900, or 950 down, and temperature ratings can be custom selected from 50 to 0-degrees Fahrenheit. Length and width are also customly selected from short to extra-long, and slim to extra-wide.
The custom options don’t stop there as Enlightened offers 16 exterior and nine interior colors to choose from. These custom options do take time to deliver, as an average build and ship time for down filled products is roughly five to seven weeks — synthetic filled products even take two to four weeks.
“Time is our biggest challenge,” Marshal added. “I think we lose more customers to time than any other brand or company out there making gear. We can’t grow fast enough, launch new products soon enough, or deliver products quick enough. Time is our biggest frustration.”
Our final verdict
If you’re planning on making the jump into ultra-light backpacking or are a minimalist hiker, this bag is a no-brainer. It’s extremely light, compact, and provides you the customizable options to design it to meet your specific demands.
During our test, the quilt performed as we would have expected in terms of thermal capability. What particularly blew us away was its weight and ability to dramatically save space in our kit. We did experience a snag on the outer shell of the quilt which caused a small tear, and without a readily identifiable culprit, there was a mild question about the abrasion resistance of the material used. Currently, the answer to this question seems to exist only after we’ve put in months of use.
For now, Enlightened Equipment’s Enigma Quilt is a great addition to any camping quiver and one we wouldn’t want to leave home without.
The Walking Dead’ creator Robert Kirkman dishes deep on his next big project
Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead comics, as well as the Outcast and Thief of Thieves comic books, has crafted a brand new adventure called Oblivion Song. His latest comic focuses on a very different post apocalyptic story line where zombies have been replaced by predatory aliens and the hero, Nathan Cole, is a scientist who wears a cool cape. The story involves a dimensional rift that occurred a decade prior to the storyline, killing 20,000 people. The cosmic event swapped out a 30 square mile piece of downtown Philadelphia with an alien world, trapping humans in an alien world, and unfriendly aliens on earth. Cole has the unique ability to travel between these two dimensions at will, which means he contends with both alien foes and survivalist humans – neither of which are fun to deal with.
His latest comic focuses on a very different post apocalyptic story.
Kirkman has been even busier than usual, of late. AMC brings Season 8 of The Walking Dead to the small screen on Oct. 22, while companion show Fear the Walking Dead continues to explore a storyline within the same universe. He’s also creator and star of a new six-part docu-series on AMC, Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, which premieres Nov. 12.
Season 2 of Kirkman’s third adapted series, Outcast, is set to premiere later this year on Cinemax, while his Thief of Thieves comic is also in development at AMC as a new show. Invincible, another Kirkman comic, is being adapted for the big screen by Seth Rogen at Universal Pictures, and his company, Skybound Entertainment, just signed a first-look deal to develop television projects for Amazon Studios.
In this exclusive interview, Kirkman talks about his inspiration for his newest comic book world, offers his take on why the comic book industry needs to change, and explains how the world’s most popular television show continues to evolve.
Digital Trends: What was the inspiration for Oblivion?
Robert Kirkman: Around ten years ago I read an article about how [legendary comic artist] Jack Kirby had never done a run on Batman, and how it would have been cool if he had brought his zany ideas and wackiness to a Batman book. It started making me think what would Jack Kirby’s Batman have been like? What kind of Gotham City would he have created? And what kind of tools would Jack Kirby have given him? If you think about it, there would be crazy weapons that Jack Kirby would have given him in the ‘70s that he would be using now like the Batman canon. So I started thinking about this cool superhero idea with some crazy technology and gothic locations. And over the course of a decade it changed and morphed every year until it was completely unrecognizable from that. So I’d like to be able to say it wasn’t because of an article about Batman, but it really was.
And then another dimension popped into it about the complacency that we have as a society; how we can just ignore things no matter how bad they are. If you think about a big chunk of Philadelphia disappearing one day, and you fast forward ten years to where it’s like a thing in a museum that people talk about sometimes, but it’s not really that big a part of our lives; how weird is that? There’s just a lot going on in the story. And there’s a lot of inspiration from different places, and it kind of morphs into this madness.
Do you see TV or film potential for Oblivion Song given the success of The Walking Dead and Outcast?
I’m not just slumming it as a comic in the hopes that it will be made into a television show or movie.
The potential is always there. Just because of everything that’s gone on with me with Walking Dead and everything, people are always interested in what new things I have going on. So it’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. When you write something for a comic book medium the pages don’t move, it’s all static images and there’s no sound. So there’s certain limitations. But I’ll be writing a scene and be like, “Oh, if this ever gets made into a movie or a television show we can actually do this with this scene.” So that’s something that I think about.
But I love the comic book medium, so I’m not like just slumming it as a comic in the hopes that it will be made as a television show or movie. I don’t really care if it ever gets made into a movie or a TV show. The comic is the thing I love. And the fact that that exists is enough for me, but there’s a very good chance that it will happen. We’ll see.
With The Walking Dead you deal with a lot of themes like hope and hopeless situations. What kind of themes will readers expect in Oblivion Song?
I like to say this is an apocalypse adjacent story. There’s very much apocalyptic themes that are present in here with the dimension of Oblivion that people have been living in for ten years. It’s somewhat similar to The Walking Dead in that they’ve had to survive without resources and discover a new way of life. But we’re very much coming into their space after they’ve already established that, so it’s much different in that they’ve already put the processes together and we’re not watching that struggle over time.
As far as themes go, it’s not as dire as The Walking Dead is. It’s a very uplifting story to a certain extent because we’re focusing on one guy who is unwilling to give up on these people, who is continue to champion their cause despite the fact that the population at large has abandoned them to a certain extent. That is somewhat more hopeful than something like The Walking Dead.
What are the challenges of upping the ante in The Walking Dead TV series each season?
The comic book series is a real big help for us in that respect because as we’re upping the ante on the television show, we know the next four or five different levels that we can go to with the comic book series. So we have a road map, to a certain extent, mapping out the jumps and the things that we can do to keep people interested.
Anytime you set out to tell a story over the course of many, many years, you have to have things built in that are going to escalate things so that the audience can remain invested. That’s something that’s been very much a part of the process of doing the comic book series and that’s helping the longevity of the show.
How have you seen new technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality open up new opportunities for The Walking Dead franchise across gaming and storytelling in general?
We’re doing a lot of stuff behind-the-scenes with VR and AR. It’s public that we’ve partnered with Skydance to work on a VR game for The Walking Dead and there’s just tremendous opportunity there because The Walking Dead is successful because it is so personal to people. The core of the story being about how someone survives in the apocalypse, how they deal with the loss of family members and how personal things are for the characters — and VR being a medium that puts you at the center of the story — lends itself very well. So we’re going to be able to explore a lot of themes in The Walking Dead because of that, and break some new ground and do some cool different things with VR because of that.
You have a new docu-series on AMC, Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics. What are your thoughts on the current state of the comic book industry, given the wealth of mature content?
The industry has over-corrected to prove it’s not a medium for children.
Comic books are a medium just like anything else. You can do material that’s explicitly for children. You can do material that’s explicitly for all ages, and you can do things that are more mature. It’s just a storytelling medium more than anything else, so it’s up to the creator to treat the medium with respect and really dig into the character and the nuances of things and tell the stories that they want to tell.
I don’t think there’s any special trick to making a comic book appeal to an adult reader. If anything, the industry as it is right now has over-corrected since the ‘80s to try and prove that it’s not a medium for children. Now we find ourselves in a place where the majority of the readership is adult, and we’re striving to get back to being able to sell comics to kids, which is something that’s very important for the medium. So we’re at an interesting place with comics.
Do you see there being another swing in comics, TV, and film aimed at younger audiences?
If you look at the sales charts, the majority of what’s successful in comics does appeal to a mature audience. And for the future of every medium you need to be appealing to a younger generation so that you can continue to funnel in new readers that you know love experiencing that medium and want to continue experiencing it for years to come. I’m not going to preach doom and gloom or anything like that, but it is something that we’ll need to address moving forward.
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