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Editor Ben Abernathy leaves DC Comics for Madefire

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.”

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DC goes Nokia-exclusive on its Dark Knight Rises prologue

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.

Wait, what?

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Dinosaurs vs. Aliens motion comic launches

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.

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Madefire launches app with new Dave Gibbons interactive comics

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.

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Liquid Comics teams with Yahoo for motion comics

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.”

See Elvis at the Pearly Gates — at rest or in motion

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.

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Comics A.M. | Remembering Maurice Sendak; IDW’s digital sales

Where the Wild Things Are?

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]

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WonderCon | A round-up of announcements from Saturday

The second day of WonderCon in Anaheim, California, featured announcements ranging from Marvel’s new Captain Marvel series to Dark Horse’s new motion-comics venture to IDW Publishing’s Womanthology miniseries:

• In his “Talk to the Hat” panel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed that Carol Danvers, long known as Ms. Marvel, will become Captain Marvel in a series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy. He also announced that, spinning out of his Astonishing X-Men run, Greg Pak will team with Stephen Segovia for X-Treme X-Men, which includes Dazzler in its lineup. “You have no idea how hard I’ve fallen for this woman,” Pak told Newsarama. “She’s so much fun to write — she’s funny and real and wry; she’s a survivor who’s seen it all and lived to tell the tale; and she will save your life with rock and roll.”

• Dark Horse will bring motion comics featuring such characters as Hellboy, Conan, Usagi Yojimbo and the Umbrella Academy to Felicia Day’s new YouTube Channel Geek & Sundry, beginning April 2.

• IDW Publishing will follow Womanthology: Heroic, the Kickstarter-funded graphic novel anthology showcase for female creators, with a five-issue miniseries titled Womanthology: Space.

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WonderCon | Dark Horse motion comics coming to YouTube

Courtesy of Guild creator Felicia Day’s upcoming Geek & Sundry, motion comics featuring Hellboy, Usagi Yojimbo, Conan and other Dark Horse characters will soon make their way to YouTube.

Dark Horse motion comics will be one of six original series for the new channel, which launches April 2. They’ll join shows featuring Wil Wheaton, Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, and Day herself. The channel “will present the very best of indie geek culture by exploring fun themes in comedy, gaming, comics, music, and literature that are sure to captivate audiences every week. Geek & Sundry will also provide a social destination and community for fans connecting online and offline about nerd culture worldwide,” according to the press release.

Dark Horse’ motion comics will air every Wednesday, starting with Dark Horse President Mike Richardson and Jason Alexander’s The Secret. The 40-minute video is directed by Erik Bruhwiler and produced by Richardson.

“We’re so incredibly excited to produce and develop a channel based on what we think the fans will enjoy the most,” said Felicia Day, cofounder, producer, and star of Geek & Sundry. “From Dark Horse Comics to Wil Wheaton, there’s a killer team of talent on camera and off that will help build on the success of The Guild and Dragon Age: Redemption.”

“This is an exciting new extension of our comics business. Our technology is state of the art and the tales are extremely engaging. Add Erik’s genius to some of the greatest creators in the comics business and the project becomes irresistible,” said Richardson.

Comics A.M. | Comic sales up in August; CDC looks to motion comics to fight HIV

Justice League

Sales charts | Dollar sales of comics sold through Diamond Comic Distributors were up more than 15 percent in August, while graphic novel dollar sales rose by more than 31 percent when compared to the year-ago period. ICv2 puts the gains in perspective, noting that comic sales were down 17 percent in August 2010 and graphic novel sales were down 21 percent. August 2010 also had four ship weeks compared to August 2011′s five. DC Comics topped the August charts with Justice League #1, followed by Flashpoint #5, Fear Itself #5, Flashpoint #4 and Ultimate Comics Fallout #4. Serenity Better Days and Other Stories from Dark Horse was the no. 1 graphic novel for August. John Jackson Miller offers commentary as well as a look at the best-selling comics of this century, a list that will include Justice League #1. [ICv2, Comichron]

Comics | The Centers for Disease Control has awarded a roughly $145,000 contract to Terminus Media to create motion comics to educate young people about HIV. The comics will be offered on “internet-capable platforms” including desktop computers, laptop computers, video gaming systems, wireless phones and tablet computers. [Politico, Via]

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Dean Haspiel checks into Warehouse 13

Artist Dean Haspiel already has an Emmy, so it’s no surprise that the television world has taken note of his talents. He shared on his blog that he was hired to do lead character design, lead props and two comic book covers for a 10-part motion comics web series called “Of Monsters and Men” for SyFy’s Warehouse 13. The series can be viewed on the SyFy website for free, and will be added to the season 3 DVD set.

Head over to his blog to view pitch and concept art for the series.

Animating Tatsumi

It’s not exactly a motion comic, but director Erik Khoo has somehow managed to make an animated version of Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life. He does this by coloring the panels and introducing limited motion, and in this short YouTube video, he and his staff discuss how they used both live-action sequences to model the motion and computer techniques to transform static panels to moving pictures. Tatsumi seems like a strange candidate for animation, but Khoo says, “You look at his panels, [and] it’s almost like a very well done storyboard for a film.” This making-of film has a definite promotional aspect (everyone uses the full name of every product—that’s the tell), but it is interesting to see the creative and technical decisions that were made in translating the book into film.

Gyakushu is set in motion at Hulu

Dan Hipp’s Gyakushu was originally published by Tokyopop and then moved online for a while (it seems to be gone now) after Tokyopop discontinued their global manga line. Now it is taking on a third life: Tokyopop is publishing volume 3 as a print-on-demand book, and Hulu just posted a motion comic of the first volume. You might as well settle in; it’s 41 minutes long.

Meanwhile, Hipp is posting some awesome fanart at his blog, and it’s all for sale.

NYCC ’10 | Stan Lee teaming with Japanese rock star for motion comic

X Japan

X Japan

One day everyone will have a comic book created by or with Stan Lee. Following the news from this past weekend that Lee is working with the NHL, MTV and 1821 Pictures on new projects, GalleyCat reports that Lee will team with Yoshiki, co-founder of the Japanese band X Japan, on a motion comic featuring a superhero based on the singer.

Yoshiki is doing the music for the project, while Lee will do “whatever else needs to be done,” he said at the New York Comic-Con.

X Japan, a metal band founded in the early 1980s by Yoshiki and Toshimitsu “Toshi” Deyama, has sold over 30 million records and sold out the Tokyo Dome 18 times. After disbanding in 1997, the group reunited in 2007 for an Asian tour, and their first North American tour kicked off late last month. They plan to release their first studio album in more than a decade next year.

Scott McCloud defends (some) motion comics

It's a comic about drinking, OK?

Scott McCloud has posted an example of an animated comic, Vincent Giard’s bol, that works pretty well, along with a brief explanation of how motion comics can work:

The best way I’ve come up with to explain it is that looping animation (and sound, for that matter) still communicate a static span of time. If panel 2 clearly comes after panel 1 and before panel 3, it still feels like comics, even if panel 2 is a short loop of some sort.

It’s a good point, and in this case, the motion gets more and then less pronounced as the comic goes along, so there is a progression to it. Scott says,

The point isn’t whether or not we want to give it a particular label or not, but whether a given comic works as storytelling. Does it feel whole? Can we lose ourselves in the reality of the strip? And in this case, I’d say yes.

I agree that the animation fits the story, but looking a the comic as a whole is a bit like trying to read a comic printed on a bowl of Jell-O.


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