Blitmap Comic Generative cover

Digital, Physical and Metaphysical Art of NFTs: Blitmap Comic and Ripcache Public // Private

This past week saw two monumental announcements in the realm of NFTs, particularly in bridging the digital-to-physical gap: Titan Comics unveiled a six-part series for the Blitmap project and ripcache tweeted a release with Transient Labs. The news was exciting for me because Blitmap, led by Dom Hofmann and Chris Supino, holds a special place in my heart, and ripcache is currently one of the most electrifying artists shaking up the scene. While both Hofmann and ripcache have explored the on-chain medium, they’ve both cast their gaze onto the physical world, though from wildly different entry points.

$5 One-of-One Generative Comic Covers—A Potential Bridge to Digital NFTs?

Let’s dive into the Blitmap comic first. But, before that, a disclosure is in order: I am a proud holder of multiple Blitmap pieces (encompassing both Blitmaps and Blitnauts) and have contributed to the community-run newsletter at the request of Sup, Inc., the company founded by Hofmann and Supino to steward digital worlds. Slated for publication by Titan Comics and set for release on August 30, the comic gives life to a cyberpunk realm known as “The Static.” This world teems with Blitnauts—an NFT extension of the Blitmap universe launched in September 2021—and Logos, a highly anticipated upcoming NFT offering exclusively for Blitmap and Blitnaut holders.

What truly distinguishes this comic book from the pack is that Blitmap is spearheading a novel “every cover is unique” initiative. While the Amazing Spider-Man may have a handful of variant covers, every single Blitmap comic produced will be unique. 

Now, to set expectations, this doesn’t mean that the covers will be wildly different in appearance. With three fundamental compositions forming the backbone, the individual uniqueness of each issue might lie in varying color schemes or elements added or subtracted from each character. This is similar to how a 10k PFP project might swap out traits—think 3D glasses or leopard skin—at the minting stage.

While it might be a matter of a few clicks in the digital realm, bringing a “generative comic book cover” to life in the physical world calls for a brand-new printing process—a challenge that the Sup team has reportedly tackled head-on. Each of the issues will then be “blind bagged,” leaving the customer in suspense until they unwrap the package—similar to the reveal post minting.

What’s truly remarkable is that the Sup team has pulled off this monumental shift in comic book publishing while keeping the price tag at an industry standard $4.99 per book.  So, for about the cost of a cappuccino, you can own a one-of-one physical item from one of the most revered companies in the NFT space.

So how does this translate into a digital asset? At this juncture, I transition from known facts to conjecture. The speculation concerning the Blitmap comic from this point forward hasn’t been verified by either Sup or their publisher, Titan Comics. However, given that Blitmap originated as an NFT project, a related digital asset doesn’t seem far-fetched. I contend that there will likely be an NFT or digital collectible linked to each issue. After all, why would a web3 company expend so much time and effort in crafting a one-of-a-kind, generative comic book?

Sure, it’s a groundbreaking move and an “industry first,” but Sup, unlike Marvel, DC or Dark Horse, is firmly rooted in the web3 and NFT space. Hofmann’s contributions have shaped DAO creation (Nouns), on-chain art (Nouns, Blitmap, Corruptions, Loot), and laid the groundwork for a virtual world through public domain items (most notably Loot). Finding an elegant solution in tying a physical asset to a digital token would be in his wheelhouse. While there hasn’t been an official announcement as of now, hope springs eternal with this author.

DISCLOSURE: I must stress that the aforementioned speculations are purely my own theories at this moment. While I’ve contributed to some Blitmap community newsletters, I am not a full-time employee at Sup and have no insider access. To me, all signs suggest some form of digital integration—though this prediction of mine could be far off the mark. This speculation should not be construed as financial advice to purchase this $5 comic; one should buy the comic for its story and art alone.

Forging the Digital and Physical Bridge in Fine Art

Now, let’s turn to ripcache and his confirmed physical-digital project in collaboration with Transient Labs.

In essence, rip is launching a series of physical works named Public // Private, continuing his established iconography centered around surveillance cameras. But here’s the twist: each piece, printed on a two-foot square metal panel, features a section that the owner can “scratch off” to reveal a private key. This key unlocks access to the Ethereum wallet holding the on-chain, digital NFT counterpart of the physical work.

While this concept—planting the seeds of digital-physical integration from the very outset—is undeniably intriguing, ripcache’s Public // Private pays homage to a couple of NFT pioneers who had their works exhibited at a 2019 show titled {PERFECT & PRICELESS}: Value Systems on the Blockchain. This show displayed Ed Fornieles’s piece, Crypto Cert, an art print hiding an Ethereum wallet’s private key beneath a scratch-off panel. This key grants access to a portion of the profits earned from the sales of the artwork. Although not an NFT per se, Crypto Cert’s idea of defacing a physical piece to acquire a digital asset does share similarities with the mechanic in Public // Private.

Moreover, Larva Labs used the same show to present physical renditions of their CryptoPunks tied to the digital asset. Alongside printing out their pixelated punks, Larva Labs attached a paper wallet to the back of the artwork. Hidden behind a custom-made wax seal, the wallet housed an Ethereum address and a private key. Upon breaking the seal, the purchaser gained access to the digital asset. Clearly, there’s a direct link from these 2019 pieces to ripcache’s Public // Private exhibit. However, this approach also seems to provoke thought about the metaphysical relationship inherent in art ownership.

Before the physical artwork’s “scratch-off” moment, does the collector truly own the digital artwork? Or is the NFT merely floating in the ether, devoid of a true owner? Does the metaphysical state of the artwork shift from the physical to the digital realm the moment the private key is revealed? Public // Private is an intriguing artistic paradox—even though the collector physically possesses the artwork, but does ownership truly materialize only when the private key is unveiled? And once that transpires, does possession of the physical piece hold any significance?

The owner of this physical piece can scratch off that section where the arrows are to review the private key to an Ethereum wallet holding the piece.

Ripcache’s choice of a small, unobtrusive space for the private key, leaving the overall composition intact, raises these thought-provoking questions. Had the artist taken an approach that caused extensive damage to the original—like scratching off the majority of the artwork—the answers might have been more straightforward. However, the transition of provenance from the physical to the digital realm, and the fact that the collector holds the reins over this transition, are fascinating things to consider.

Collectors can visit to bid on one of six physical representations of his pixelated art. Given that ripcache’s 1155 editions routinely fetch around 3 ETH and two recent top sales at a Christie’s auction—part of the Next Wave: New York Edit showcase—totaled 24.2 and 25 ETH, these six unique pieces sit on a completely different scale from Blitmap’s $5 comic.

Physical-digital ownership is the new frontier

As we venture further into the web3 universe, we can anticipate more groundbreaking projects that interweave the digital and physical domains. And as these two examples demonstrate, this intersection can occur at a wide range of price points, especially as L2 blockchains make transactions more cost effective. 

This is an exciting time to be involved in the NFT space—whether you’re an artist, a collector, or a casual observer. As we watch the lines between digital and physical ownership continue to blur, it’s impossible not to get excited at the innovations being made in this field. What seems certain is that we’re just at the dawn of this fascinating new era of physical-digital ownership, something I’m definitely here for!



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