Ben Abernathy, who left DC Comics last week after more than a decade with the company — most recently as digital editor — has joined Madefire, the innovative motion-comics company launched last year by Ben Wolstenholme, Liam Sharp and Eugene Walden.
“About two years ago Ben [Wolstenholme] and I realized there would be a point very early on where Madefire needed a full-time editor – if all went to plan!” Sharp tells ComicBooked.com. “We started to draft a wish-list – and it barely got past one! Ben Abernathy!”
Abernathy, who worked briefly for Dark Horse and Marvel, was senior editor of WildStorm until the imprint was closed in 2010 amid a corporate restructuring and he was moved with other staff to DC’s West Coast digital division. “… Ultimately, the industry is heading to a predominantly digital delivery and that’s not a reflection whatsoever on the direct market or the print publishers–it’s just a reality based on technology and the evolving audience,” Abernathy says in a Q&A on the Madefire website. “From the position I held at DC, I had the opportunity to see some of the reading tools being developed for the industry, and from the moment I saw Madefire’s work, I could tell they were ahead of the curve. Way ahead. And you’re right: I wouldn’t be answering these questions if I didn’t believe that 100 percent and wasn’t committed to doing everything possible to help facilitate this next step.”
Creators | In the wake of the FunnyJunk/The Oatmeal legal dispute, Ian Pike talks to San Diego-based webcomics creators David King and Phil McAndrew about the problem of having their work re-posted without credit. “If I were to sit there and try to hunt down all the websites that re-post my comics without my name on them,” McAndrew says, “I wouldn’t have any time to draw new stuff. So most of the time I just shrug my shoulders and keep on drawing.” One interesting sidelight is that Matthew Inman, the creator of The Oatmeal, has set up a site called BearFood where users can share their favorite webcomics with the appropriate links. [San Diego Reader]
Digital comics | Matt White surveys the digital-first landscape with a look at the strategies (or the lack thereof) from publishers ranging from DC Comics to Viz Media: “While the majority of digital comics are just digitized versions of print comics, available simultaneously (known as ‘day-and-date’) or after the physical version hits shelves, current digital-first offerings seem to represent an alternative, more specific market as publishers begin to treat digital more as a complement to print rather than a replacement.” [Publishers Weekly]
The venerable British anthology 2000 AD will now available digitally worldwide, through the Apple Newsstand, the same day copies go on sale in the United Kingdom. That’s good news, certainly, for U.S. fans.
“Making 2000 AD as accessible as possible is something we’ve been working towards for some time,” Editor Matt Smith said in an announcement on the magazine’s website. “For the first time we can offer easy, quick digital subscriptions so that readers can download the latest issue with a single push of a button. If you’ve ever had trouble getting hold of the latest 2000 AD, don’t like waiting for the physical Prog to reach your shores, or you just want the ease of having digital copies then our new app is ideal.”
As an introduction for new readers, Rebellion is offering a free 69-page sampler issue featuring such recent 2000 AD stories as “Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos,” “Zombo” and “Ichabod Azrael.”
Subscribers can save up to 24 percent, and gain free access to a range of back issues. Single issues can be purchased for download for $2.99; a one-month subscription is $10.99, while three months is $2.99. An entire year goes for $109.99.
Following quickly on its Squids news, Ape Entertainment announced this morning that it’s signed a deal with developer Imangi Studios to release a series of graphic novels and digital comics based on the popular video game Temple Run.
Debuting in 2011, the endless action game revolves around explorers who attempt to steal an idol from a temple while being chased by demonic monkeys. According to the publisher, the comics will delve into the backstory of the explorers as well as the mysteries of the ancient temples. No word on the monkeys, though.
“Temple Run is by far one of my favorite adventure games on the App Store,” Ape CEO David Hedgecock said in a statement. “The thrilling gameplay plays into our plans very nicely for an extraordinary storyline that we know fans will enjoy.”
As with the previously announced Squids, the Temple Run comics will be released in print and through a standalone app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Ape has already met with great success with its adaptations of the games Pocket God — the first issue alone has sold 200,000 copies – and Cut the Rope.
Ape Entertainment, which has already released a massively successful comic based on the successful Pocket God video game, is now setting its sights on Squids, the role-playing game from French developer The Game Bakers. The licensing agreement calls for digital comics and graphic novels.
Debuting in October 2011 for iOS devices, the turn-based combat game features anthropomorphic squids attempting to defeat aquatic enemies encroaching upon their underwater kingdom. A sequel, Squids: Wild West, was released this summer.
“In terms of graphics and storytelling, the SQUIDS games already have a lot in common with comics, so continuing and expanding the adventure in comic books is a natural step,” The Game Bakers COO Audrey Leprince said in a statement.. “Ape Entertainment has a proven track record within the comics industry and we’re excited to partner with them to bring our hungry fans more of the SQUIDS stories they love.”
Ape plans to release the Squid comics in print and through a standalone app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Madefire, the company Dave Gibbons mentioned in his recent interview with us, this morning launched a free iPad app with new motion comics by the Watchmen co-creator, Mike Carey, Liam Sharp, Robbie Morrison and others.
The Madefire App debuts with the first episodes of the “Motion Books” Treatment: Tokyo and Treatment: Mexico City, by Gibbons, Kinman Chan and Robbie Morrison, and Mono, by Ben Wolstenholme and Sharp. Subsequent episodes will be available twice a month. There are also previews of future comics by Carey and David Kendall, Haden Blackman and Gary Erskine, and others.
“Madefire is igniting a new era by creating a modern, dynamic reading experience and bringing that to the millions of iPad users around the world,” Gibbons said in a statement. “It is exciting to be able to bring this robust storytelling into the 21st century while also democratizing the ability to publish comic books.”
Watch a video demonstrating the “immersive experience” of the Motion Books below. The Madefire App is available for free from iTunes.
After bringing Classics Illustrated into the digital age, and onto Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, in March, Trajectory Inc. announced this morning it has teamed with Apple to deliver the enduring comics series on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Debuting in 1941 as Classic Comics, Classic Illustrated adapted such literary works as Treasure Island, The Last of the Mohicans and Jane Eyre, publishing 169 issues during its 30-year run. More than 120 titles are available from Apple’s iBookstore.
“Making the Classics available in digital form brings these brilliant works to where people live now, on their mobiles,” Trajectory CEO Jim Bryant said in a statement. “The iPad and iPhone are great for interacting with one of the most beloved comics and graphic novel series of all time.”
The Vampire Chronicles novelist Anne Rice also endorses the series, saying, “I remember reading Jane Eyre in the Classics comics and how much I loved the details and seeing the madwoman in the attic in those little panels and seeing the whole novel play out. What always drew me were very detailed, representational drawings, rather than something abstract. I wanted to see a lot of richness and a lot of depth.”
Watch the trailer and read the press release below.
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MAD Magazine will release an iPad app featuring exclusive content, interactive stories, MAD videos and access to MAD library on April 1, the birthday of their legendary mascot Alfred E. Neuman. The app will be free to download through the App Store and will include a mixture of free and paid content, including a free preview of the magazine.
“We’re delighted to bring MAD to the iPad,” said MAD editor John Ficarra in a press release. “We think the MAD app may be just the thing to turn the struggling iPad around and make it successful -though most experts think it may be just the thing that kills it altogether.”
The MAD app will include interactive versions of all current issues, access to a library of back issues and books, animated covers and “fold-in” pages and promo videos from the MAD Cartoon Network show. In addition to the regular issue interactive “fold-in,” digital issues will also include a second, classic interactive “fold-in” from a past issue. Fans of Sergio Aragones’ MAD Marginals will enjoy a feature that allows readers to “pop-up” the margin artwork for a larger, more detailed view.
Conventions | WonderCon was held in Anaheim, California, this year because the traditional venue, San Francisco’s Moscone Center, was closed for renovations. Heidi MacDonald wonders whether the shift will be permanent, and a lively debate ensues in comments. SFBay, meanwhile, informally surveyed exhibitors, and found many retailers saw a steep drop in sales from last year, while many artists saw an increase in revenue. [The Beat]
Retailing | ICv2 sees an uptick in manga sales in comics stores and speculates that the Borders bankruptcy has led readers to a variety of different channels, including the direct market, which could be an opportunity for comics stores to expand their customer base. [ICv2]
Digital comics | Digital distributor comiXology will offer HD versions of all its comics for readers who use the new third-generation iPad, and Jason Snell says the new retina display and the HD comics make for a much better reading experience. [Macworld UK]
Comics sales | Torsten Adair takes a snapshot of what graphic novels were selling best on the Barnes & Noble website last week, and the results look very good if you’re Robert Kirkman: Thirteen out of 20 graphic novels to make the Top 1000 books were volumes of The Walking Dead, and overall, hardcovers outsold paperbacks. So maybe the zombie thing isn’t totally over? The top-selling graphic novel isn’t even out yet: It’s the graphic novel adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Both that and The Walking Dead Compendium cracked the Top 100, which includes all books, not just graphic novels. [The Beat]
Digital comics | Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times says the new iPad improves the comic reading experience: “But the iPad’s new Retina Display throws the door to digital comic books wide open. The experience of reading a comic book on either of the first two generations of iPads was, at best, adequate. If your vision is good and you’re willing to squint a little, you can possibly read comics in fullpage mode. Halfway through the first issue of a story arc, though, you’ll stop being a hero. If you’re using an open comic book editor, you’ll start zooming and scrolling. If you bought your comics from the Comixology mode, you’ll switch to their guided panel view mode.” [Chicago Sun Times]
Theme parks | Disney CEO Bob Iger said the company has begun preliminary design work that will pave the way for Marvel superheroes to one day appear alongside familiar characters in Disney theme parks. Iger told shareholders attending the annual meeting Tuesday that the company has been working on some concepts, but hasn’t announced anything yet. Disney is currently developing attractions based on James Cameron’s Avatar film for its Animal Kingdom park in Orlando, Florida, which are expected to be ready in 2015. [Los Angeles Times]
Comic strips | Alan Gardner counts 57 newspapers that aren’t carrying this week’s Doonesbury comics, which address a Texas law requiring women requesting an abortion to submit to a transvaginal ultrasound. But according to Universal UClick, no papers have dropped Garry Trudeau’s strip. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | John Jackson Miller discusses the Rule of Eight, which holds that independent publishers start to falter once they put out more than eight titles per month, and goes into the nuances of the theory with its originator of the idea, Marc Patten. [The Comichron]
Launching on iPad, iPhone, Android and Flash — presumably, the latter means Facebook and Google+ — the story-driven game will feature “all the classic and iconic elements of Archie’s world, from Riverdale High to his two love interests, Betty and Veronica — not to mention friends and foes like Reggie, Jughead and more.”
“We’re excited and honored to be partnering with Gogii Games,” Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater said in a statement. “They came up with a way to really bring the comics to life and to engage an entirely new and fervent fan base. We can’t wait for this game to go live across all platforms and countries.”
Although the announcement notes that development is already under way, no release date has been made public.
Based in New Brunswick, Canada, Gogii boasts a catalog of more than 30 games, including Princess Isabella, White Haven Mysteries and Escape the Museum.
Passings | Jan Berenstain, who with her husband Stan created the popular children’s book characters the Berenstain Bears, passed away Friday at a hospital near her home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Berenstain, 88, had suffered a stroke earlier in the week. Since the release of The Big Honey Hunt in 1962, the Berenstain Bears series has grown to more than 300 books and sold about 260 million copies worldwide, inspiring animated television specials and series, museum exhibits and a stage show. Stan Berenstain passed away in 2005 at age 82. [The Washington Post]
Events | This year’s 24-Hour Comics Day will be held Oct. 20. [ComicsPro]
Comics | Here’s a variation on the comics-aren’t-for-kids-anymore theme, with reasonable parents who know they need to check what their kids are reading, and a retailer who gets it. [WNYT.com]
Legal | A judge refused to dismiss DC Comics’ lawsuit against Gotham Garage, a manufacturer of custom-made Batmobiles, ruling that the design of Batman’s vehicle is indeed copyrightable. DC sued the California company in May for copyright and trademark infringement, claiming Gotham Garage is confusing the public into thinking the cars are authorized products. The manufacturer asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the U.S. Copyright Act affords no protection to “useful articles.” The judge disagreed, ruling that Gotham Garage “ignores the exception to the ‘useful article’ rule, which grants copyright protection to nonfunctional, artistic elements of an automobile design that can be physically or conceptually separated from the automobile.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
Legal | Nancy Hass provides a broad overview of the legal battle at Archie Comics that pits Co-CEOs Jon Goldwater and Nancy Silberkleit against each other for control of the 73-year-old company. Silberkleit, who spoke briefly to Hass before a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order last month, called claims that she’s threatened and harassed the publisher’s employees and vendors “completely untrue.” [The Daily Beast]
Digital comics | Geoff Johns explains how digital presentation made him re-evaluate his approach to writing Aquaman #1, as digital readers focus on stories panel by panel rather than page by page. He notes that they also spend more time on individual panels, taking in all the details before moving on: “It’s weird to go back and look at some of the old comics now. If you read something in this fashion you will notice stuff that you skipped over so quickly because your eye takes in the whole page instead of the panel individually. I think that’s probably one of the biggest advantages of digital.” Johns also reveals digital considerations have also led him to scale back on internal dialogue to “let the art and characters expressions speak for themselves.” [Variety]
Digital comics | On a related note, Shaun Huston ponders the challenges of making “comics as we know them” work on digital devices: “While there’s some latitude to read full pages on the iPad, and the Fire at 4.7” x 7.5” (or the Nooks) affords that option more realistically than the iPhone or similarly-sized devices, in all of these cases there will be situations where most readers will shift to Guided View in order to effectively see some particular detail on a page. For many, Guided View will be the primary choice, which is a qualitatively different experience than reading page-by-page. In fact, while in that mode, ‘the page’ arguably becomes irrelevant as panels are strung together into one linear sequence, rather than into a series of page-specific sequences.” [PopMatters]