How quickly we’re evolving: From Yvyes Bigerel’s rough demo in February 2009 to the near-simultaneous launch of Mark Waid’s Thrillbent and Marvel’s Infinite Comics in March 2012 to the Marvel ReEvolution suite of digital initiatives announced earlier this year (and still coming). And now we have DC Comics’ entry, DC2 (“DC Squared”), which looks to be the company’s take on Bigerel’s concepts. Also announced is DC2 Multiverse, a choose-your-own-adventure style digital comic that will inform DC on readers’ story choices.
While the latter seems a little creepy, it’s becoming clear that after years of digital and webcomics primarily mimicking print comic books and comic strips, a new kind of comic is emerging, one that is changing how they’re made and read.
These current platforms were far from the first to experiment with digital. Artists like Cayetano Garza Jr. began experimenting with limited effects and layout as early as 1998. Scott McCloud’s infinite canvas theory, in which digital could break free of the confines of the limited dimensions of a page, was proposed in 2000, ironically in the pages of his print book Reinventing Comics. Experiments with using an infinite canvas followed, but it never grabbed hold as a standard format. Mostly, webcomics have echoed the structure and dimensions of daily newspaper strips with the occasional experimentation.
That means creators will be able to make their own motion comics using Madefire’s tools, and then distribute them through deviantART and the Madefire’s app. DeviantART also has a new Motion Books section in which visitors can preview a dozen Madefire titles previously only available on the company’s iOS app, and purchase chapters for 10 cents each (they remain free through the app for a limited time).
Creators | Laura Sneddon talks to Neal Adams about his life in comics, including the time Stan Lee offered him the opportunity to work on any comic Marvel published: “I said, ‘Ohh okay, I see. So what’s your worst-selling title?’ He said, ‘X-Men, we’re gonna cancel it in two issues.’ I said, ‘You know what, I’d like to do X-Men.’ He said, ‘I just told you we’re gonna cancel it in two issues.’ I say, ‘Well fine! You know for two issues I will do X-Men. And that will be fine.’ He said, ‘Well okay. We’ll [write/run] it as long as we can, we’ll make you a deal. You can do X-Men, then we cancel it, then you gotta work on an important book like the Avengers.’” [The New Statesman]
It will be the eighth title produced by Shout! Factory since 2009, joining the likes of Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D., Iron Man: Extremis, Black Panther and, most recently, Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable. The Inhumans DVD will be available beginning April 23 for $14.97.
Debuting in November 1998, the Eisner Award-winning series follows the race of genetic outsiders as Black Bolt and the rest of the Royal Family attempt to repel attacks on their island kingdom of Attilan from without and within. Inhumans ran for just 12 issues.
While a 15-year-old series — rather than, say, something from the Avengers or Iron Man stables — may seem an unusual choice to receive the motion-comic treatment, it’s probably worth noting that Marvel Studios is gearing up for Phase Three of its cinematic universe, one that will include some of the company’s more offbeat properties, like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. An Inhumans movie was confirmed in October 2011 as part of the studio’s agenda, and the third phase that begins in 2015 seems as likely a home for the project as any.
See the official synopsis for Marvel Knights Animation’s Inhumans below:
The U.K. newspaper The Guardian marked the U.S. Election Day with a short comic called America: Elect! that uses limited animation in some very effective ways. The comic is constructed as one continuous series of panels, and as the reader scrolls downward, elements move in and out of the picture — primary candidates get crossed out, a tiny Osama bin Laden falls from the sky, sign-carrying tea partiers pop into the panel.
The comic is credited to “Guardian US Interactive Team with Richard Adams and Erin McCann“; Adams is in the newspaper’s Washington, D.C., bureau, and McCann is a copy editor who recently wrote about New York Comic Con for the Guardian blog. It’s lighthearted and clever, and will take about five minutes to read. Of course, it’s also incomplete, as the comic was posted yesterday. The story says “stay tuned for the final chapter,” but it’s not clear where that’s going to be posted.
In April we spotlighted the first music video/motion comic collaboration between writer James Davidge, Saga artist Fiona Staples and Canadian alt-country band Cowpuncher, and now, six months later they’re at it again.
This time Davidge and Staples’ 2007 short story “Nouveau Hobo” is transformed into a music video for Cowpuncher’s “Kill All the Artists.” The story originally appeared in Davidge’s collection My Modern Panic: Short Stories.
Watch the video below, and listen to more Cowpuncher music on the band’s website.
Conventions | San Diego City Council has given final approval to the planned $520 million expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, viewed as necessary to keeping Comic-Con International in the city past 2015. The project still faces a legal challenge to a financing scheme involving a hotel-room surtax, as well as state regulatory approval, leading the city attorney to caution that the targeted 2017 completion date is just “a goal.” Whether Comic-Con organizers can be convinced to sign another three-year extension to their contract remains a big question. [NBC San Diego]
Conventions | Most of Heidi MacDonald’s article about New York Comic Con is behind a paywall at Publishers Weekly, but she pulls out some stats at The Beat: Ticket sales are up 190 percent over this time last year. As the capacity of the Javits Center is somewhere south of 110,000 people, this means the ReedPOP folks won’t sell any more tickets than last year, but they are selling out faster. Three-day and four-day passes are already gone, only Friday tickets remain, and ReedPOP vice president Lance Fensterman expects everything to be sold out by the time the show begins. [The Beat]
OK, here’s a chance to get a paid gig alongside some of the greatest names in the imaginative arts industry: Dave Gibbons, Bill Sienkiewicz, Brian Bolland, Mike Carey, and more.
Madefire is looking for a horror illustrator for a story that will go live on our 5-star rated app at Halloween. The creature in the story is a Metawhal Alpha (drawn by me, above).
…Please DON’T send me direct messages, including via DeviantArt. Simply submit your work to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Then go and check out the rest of our website and/or iPad app to get a feel for what we’re creating. The portfolio submission period won’t last for more than a few weeks, as we want to select an illustrator in time for a finished title to go live end of October.
Anyone applying for this gig will be seeing his work published alongside a dizzying array of comics superstars, so I’m guessing big brass cojones (or big brass huevos) are also required, if not actually stipulated by Sharp.
In other Sharp-related news, the DTV horror movie he recently worked on in an art department laced with comic book talent (including Gary Erskine, Lee Carter and Alex Ronald), Outpost II: Black Sun, has released a mood-book full of concept art (link via Everything Comes Back To 2000AD).
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.”
DC Comics announced The Dark Knight Rises prequel comic on Friday:
Can’t get enough of the epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy? Then download THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: PROLOGUE app from DC Comics, sponsored by Nokia and available on Nokia Windows Phone devices. The app features an exclusive motion-comic from writer Joshua Williamson and artist Jorge Jimenez that serves as a prologue to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES film. The app also include social media share options and links to other apps tied to the film.
The motion-comic adaptation of Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, the sci-fi graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Mukesh Singh, launched this morning on the video portal Yahoo! Screen. Announced last month, the partnership between Yahoo! and Liquid Comics will also bring Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper to computer screens.
Published in June through Dynamite Entertainment, Dinosaurs vs. Aliens tells the story of an alien invasion of prehistoric Earth, whose only saviors are dinosaurs more intelligent than humanity has ever imagined.
“Like Snakes on a Plane,the project title leaves no doubt as to what to expect from the movie,” Morrison told Comic Book Resources earlier this year, “so the trick was to deliver on the basics but also create an engrossing, epic story with a cast of diverse and memorable characters, both reptile and extra-terrestrial. We’ve talked about a different name for the movie when it comes out, but no matter what, I’m hoping Dinosaurs vs. Aliens will be part of the title somewhere.”
Watch the first episode of the motion comic below.
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.
Liquid Comics, the successor to Virgin Comics, has partnered with Yahoo to bring motion comics to the video portal Yahoo! Screen. The first two titles, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs vs. Aliens and Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper, will debut this summer.
Liquid emerged in September 2008 following a restructuring and management buyout of Virgin Comics, the joint venture formed two years earlier by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and the India-based comics publisher Gotham Entertainment.
Written by Grant Morrison and painted by Mukesh Singh, Dinosaurs vs. Aliens was published in May through Dynamite Entertainment, and is being developed as a film by Sonnenfeld (Men in Black). Gamekeeper, by Ritchie, Andy Diggle and Singh, debuted in 2007 under Virgin’s Director’s Cut imprint; it, too, is destined for the big screen.
In Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, aliens invade prehistoric Earth, whose only saviors are dinosaurs more intelligent than humanity has ever imagined. Gamekeeper is an espionage tale centering on a reclusive groundsman who lives a quiet existence until mercenaries appear to disrupt his world.
“We are thrilled to work with Yahoo! to bring the full graphic novel experience to their audience through Liquid’s motion comic versions,” Liquid Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan said in a statement. “Yahoo’s impressive global reach will greatly enhance Liquid’s goal of pushing the boundaries of comic books through digital platforms and technology and enabling our creative partners to share their stories with audiences worldwide.”
As I mentioned in my roundup of Free Comic Book Day comics, the Graphic Elvis preview from Liquid Comics was one of the more striking selections of the day, in particular because of Stan Lee’s Elvis tribute comic, illustrated by Jeevan J. Kang, which shows The King reaching the Pearly Gates. It’s a slimmed-down, pre-Vegas version of Elvis, who humbly falls into line with everyone else, amazing them with his lack of pushiness. “I wouldn’t expect him to be treated just like us,” says one man, who obviously hasn’t read his Gospels. And Elvis is almost turned away, but — no, I won’t spoil it, because now you can read the whole Graphic Elvis FCBD comic on Issu.
Passings | The Comics Journal collects tributes to Maurice Sendak, the legendary children’s book author and illustrator who passed away Tuesday at age 83. Philip Nel, director of Kansas State University’s Program in Children’s Literature, also writes an obituary for the influential creator of Where the Wild Things Are. [TCJ.com]
Publishing | In an interview with the retail news and analysis site ICv2, IDW Publishing President and CEO Ted Adams says that while digital sales are at 10 percent of print sales, both are going up: “There’s just no question at this point that selling comics digitally is definitively not impacting [print] comic book sales. If anything you could make the argument that the success of digital is driving more print comic book sales. The correlation at this point is that increased digital has resulted in increased print. Whether or not that is a direct correlation, I don’t know how you would figure that out. I can say with no uncertainty that our increased digital revenue has come at a time when we’ve had increased comic book sales.” [ICv2]