The great thing about digital comics is that there isn’t one way to publish your story. Whether you’re distributing through a major company and keeping to a strict monthly schedule or you’re self-publishing online and releasing it whenever you feel is right, there’s no hard and fast rule about how best to release your work to the public.One prime example of doing things differently is the brilliant Cow Boy from Chris Eliopoulos and Nate Cosby. We spoke to Chris back in August when Cow Boy was still in it’s infancy and so it’s great to see it finally appearing online, and it really has been worth the wait. Chris and Nate have taken the bold step of offering pages from Cow Boy free on their site cowboycomic.net while also offering dedicated readers the option to pre-order a hard cover print edition which will be published by Archaia Press.
We review the newest and best digital comics, from big name titles on platforms like ComiXology to essential indie titles and the latest app-based publishers.
The guys overs at IDW Publishing have created a great niche for themselves in the digital comics world thanks to their awesome series of apps and titles featuring big names from G.I. Joe to True Blood. However it is with Transformers that they have had their most success, so much so that this week sees the launch of this digital exclusive series, Transformers Autocracy.
With gorgeous art from fan favourite artist Livio Ramondelli and a story by Warcraft writer Chris Metzen alongside seasoned Transformer author Flint Dillie, it focuses on the early days of Optimus Prime (here referred to as Orion Pax) on Cybertron, before the war. Working alongside familiar names like Bumblebee, Ironhide and Hound, as a kind of Cybertron Police Force, the story looks set to reveal how Prime came to be the great leader we all know and love – there is even the promise of appearances from Megatron and other Decepticons, but as allies rather than foes! Essentially, it’s a bit like X-Men First Class but with Autobots instead of mutants!
At a mere 8 pages, there isn’t much to get your teeth into, but it certainly whets your appetite for more, and with only two weeks until the next instalment (and a bargain price of 69p an issue) you won’t have long to wait. Plans are to have the story line run through into June and also to tie in with the continuity of new titles More Than Meets The Eye and Robots in Disguise so there should be enough to keep both hardened Autobot-fans and nostalgic geeks like myself happy well into the summer.
Is there a better team in comics today than Sean Philips and Ed Brubaker? Whether it’s the pot-boiled noir of Criminal or the post-modern super-villain antics of Incognito, they are truly masters of their craft. Now it’s time for them to turn their attention to the supernatural horror genre with brand new title Fatale. It features the traditional tight and complex Brubaker storyline blending time-travel, horror, whodunnit and classic noir. Flipping from the 1930s to the present day with seamless, mind-bending brilliance the story would be nothing without Philips stylish visuals. Tweaking his trademark stark, monochromatic style to a more pulpy 30s style it features much more of a dynamic feel than the tight close-ups of Criminal, however it is subtle touches of former Hellboy and BPRD colourist Dave Stewart that really helps give Fatale that gothic feel.
As with all Brubaker/Philips story it is difficult to get your head around this latest world in just 32 pages. Not because it is complex and unwieldy, but because the themes and subjects involved are so expertly weaved into the story. By the time you reach the final page you are only just getting started and are left wanting to read the next instalment as soon as you can. Fatale is the kind of book that will reward repeat reading as you pick up more and more with each reading as the story progresses from issue to issues, so make sure you get on the Fatale band wagon now as this will be on everyone’s ‘Best of 2012’ list by the end of the year and will be selling out in print before you know it.
Everyone loves zombies, and the only thing better than the undead is when an unlikely hero takes on the hordes of the undead for our enjoyment. We’ve had Egg from this Life in the Walking Dead, cabbage chucking pot plants in Plants vs. Zombies and and even Marvel Superheroes, but this week there’s a new corpse splutterer is about to take on the task – Mega City One’s finest lawman Judge Dredd.
This week’s must-have is the brilliant Powerplay by Kurt Christenson and Reilly Brown. A lot of comics claim to have embraced the world of digital, but they only go as far as same day print and digital. The boys on Powerplay have taken it one step further and have actually designed the comic to maximise the iPad’s interactivity. Rather than the standard left to right scrolling of panels, Powerplay takes the panel by panel approach of ComiXology and takes it to its logical conclusion by getting rid of individual pages all together and just letting you scroll through one panel at a time. Now this might not seem the best way to read a book, but it’s been designed so that in key places in the story panels begin blend together to give it a simple animated feel which is just awesome. Check out the scene where Mac turns to gold and Kris cuts off his hair between panels 28 and 37 to see what I mean.
As comic fans we’re all famalliar with the idea of a pull list – the carefully selected list of titles which our friendly comic store clerk puts by for use each week and adds to with carefuly curtaed recommendations based on our personal tastes. But what happens in this new digital world? Who is going to put aside that first printing of the new super cool book which no one else has ordered? Well here at Pipedream Comics we hope to be able to offer you that very service with our own Pipedream Pull List. Each week, we’ll point you in the direction of that week’s must-have digital comic and help you find that new gem which otherwise might have passed you by.
Our first recommendation is one which I am sure a lot of you will already have in your actual pull list and that is Batman #1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. With all the excitment about Justice League, Action Comics and the rest of the 52 relaunch, this book has been somewhat sidelined. OK, so it’s still going to do massive numbers, but with all the attention split between the marquee titles and the forgotten gems, this one might be passed over by your average fan which would be a shame as it is one of the best of the 52 relaunches so far.
The tone of the book is as dark as you would expect from the writer of American Vampire but it is the art which really helps the book stand out. I’ve been a massive fan of Greg Capullo’s work since the early days of Spawn but his style has really evolved since then and removing himself from the McFarlane bubble has helped step his game up to another level. Capullo’s Batman is sinister and learing with a dark and twisted quality. Juxtaposed with the clean simplicity of Bruce Wayne and co when they aren’t out fighting crime, the phenomenal level of detail he gets into every page is just astounding.
From the opening double page splash you can tell this is the work of a man who is loving the opportunity to draw such a wierd and wonderful cast of characters and the macabre story which Snyder is looking tell is really taking advantage of Capullo’s art in a way that we haven’t seen before. In many ways it’s reminiscent of his mentor Todd McFarlane’s work on Year Two or the Batman/Spawn crossover but with so much more going on in every panel.
For non-regular Batman readers it fulfills all the jobs that the Relaunch intended. It both grabs new readers with it’s exciting new creative team while at the same time not moving too far from the the source material for the diehards (although I am sure many will complain about Capullo’s unorthodox treatment of the Joker). The murder mystery storyline meant that as soon as I got to the end of the book I couldn’t wait for the next issue and there are very few books from the 52 relaunch that I could say that about.
Wacom are set to launch a fantastic new product next month called the Inkling. I saw the brilliant Dave Gibbons post this link to it last month and have been very excited about seeing what it was all about ever since. Well, I had a quick play with one last week and I have posted my thoughts at the MacFormat website – click here to read it – however I thought I would also post a link to it on here as well, along with some sample images that I produced for it.
In short, I think the Inkling is an awesome gadget and has the potential to be really exciting for digital artists everywhere – especially in the world of comics where line art is still so important. The results were really impressive, although not quite there for final artwork. The freedom that you have when sketching with the Inkling is great though and the technology that has created them is clearly very clever. However I can’t help but think it feels quite niche and a bit like a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. After all, how many artists outside comics will want a digital transfer device for line art?
That is not to say that it can’t find a niche of it’s own with all manner of creative pros and become a truly must-have product for digital creatives, but I think it all will depend on the uptake of those who start to use it and the buzz that they can create online. Certainly the ability to create physical and digital art simultaneous is very exciting and could lead to some very intriguing possibilities! With the relatively low price-tag of £149 price tag it will certainly be very tempting for a gadget-loving artist with money burning a hole in their pocket and is clearly a more budget conscious alternative to a Cintiq 24HD!
With the number of digital comics released increasing every week, the ComiXology team have released a brand new version of their Comics app. Version 3.0 is a complete overhaul of the old app, with everything from a new look store front to fantastic new browsing and search features that makes the experience of using it more intuitive than before.
As well as writing features I also write reviews for Tap! and thought I would share them with. Back in issue 4 I reviewed the brilliant Inkpad from Steve Sprang (creator of Brushes). Inkpad is a fantastic vector illustration app for the iPad. For those not in the know, vector images are made using shapes and lines to create paths, rather than colouring in pixels, and these paths can then be manipulated using anchor points to create precise shapes with defined edges. These are perfect for creating logos or technical drawings, as they can then be scaled in size easily without any loss in quality because they are based on mathematical data rather than on pixels.