Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder reminds you, that underneath their superhero hyperbole comics truly are still an art form, capable of telling intelligent, emotive and highly personal tales without resorting to twee cliche. On the surface this tale of the titular sub mariner is a Twilight Zone style supernatural mystery about a diver who discovers a mysterious pocket watch at the bottom of the ocean and the strange link it has to his past, in particular his missing father who disappeared on Halloween in mysterious circumstances. But this rather circumspect synopsis does not do the plot justice as under the surface are fathoms worth of hidden depths that make this a truly wonderful read.

You wait for ages for a book with a big blue cartoon guardian angel in and then two come along at once. However IDW’s Memorial: Imaginary Friends  by Chris Roberson and Rich Ellis could not be more different from Grant Morrison’s Happy, even though its main characters share a similar hue!

Imaginary Friends is the follow up to IDW’s charming Memorial series from last year and has a very classic fairy tale feel to it. Reminiscent of 80s classics like a Neverending Story or Labyrinth with a hint of the Narnia books and a generous dose of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman for good measure, this new instalment introduces Jonathan who is struggling to look after his senile mother and trying to figure out why she is drawing pictures of his childhood imaginary best friend, – an 8 foot blue dinosaur called Nox. When his daughter is kidnapped, Jonathan discovers Nox has entered the real world and they must set off to rescue  her with the help of Em, Peter and Schodinger the cat, who are alerted to this improbable arrival and offer to help rescue his daughter from the sinister world of Maybe

Although it doesn’t offer the reader anything particularly new and original, Memorial’s charming artwork and sweet, simple  story makes it a really fun read. Released fortnightly as digital exclusives these 10 page mini issues are a bargain  at 69p and really make the most of it’s simple adventure based plot which  will definitely keep you coming back for more as we learn yet more about Em and the world of Maybe.

Memorial: Imaginary Friends is available via the ComiXology app or via the IDW publishing app and the first Memorial story is available here.

With it being Halloween this month there could be only one choice for app of the month – the brilliant It’s The great Pumpkin Charlie Brown from Loud Crow Interactive. If like us, you grew up loving the comic strip adventures of Charles M Schultz’s Peanuts then this is the app you. Based on the classic 1960s cartoon version, this interactive book features all your favourites from Charlie Brown and Snoopy to Lucy and Linus and re-tells the classic ‘Great Pumpkin’ story as a sublime interactive storybook for your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

To celebrate Madefire’s inclusion in Apple’s iPad mini presentation this week,  we thought we’d round up the latest batch of titles from the current top dog in digital comics.  Regular readers will know we’re big fans of their app and following on from the initial prologue releases Liam Sharp and company have been steadily unleashing a menagerie of fantastic characters and new titles – from robot men, vampire girls and villainous kidnapper who steal children across time!

According to Wikipedia, Augmented Reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics. Although AR is not new in the world of apps (we’ve seen it on everything from arcade games to star chart apps) it is definitely at the cutting of edge of what can we be done in terms of digital comics. Marvel Comics have cut their teeth in the medium earlier this year, but with Anomaly we have one of the most ambitious projects  seen in recent months. This augmented reality graphic novel from writer Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin is epic in every sense of the word, and  literally sees the characters come to life from the page.

If like me, you love the darkness of classic horror movies – often the cheesier the better – then you might be interested in trying the first 3 chapters of Becoming by Brooke Burgess, published by Arcana Studio. As a fan of horror books, I don’t mind if they’re a little bit silly, in a foreign language, long or short. I can happily read pulpy, sexy shorts from the likes of Guy N. Smith and James Herbert or I can immerse myself in the longer, more thought-provoking tales of HP Loveraft and Brian Lumley. And I love a good horror comic. Whether it’s modern stuff like Dark Horse (my current favourite), Chaos! Comics‘s Evil Ernie and Lady Death, Glen Danzig’s Verotik series or legendary EC Comics from the 50s, I love horror, but something just doesn’t quite work with Becoming.

When it comes to digital comics, it is easy to focus on the new and cutting edge, however, it is also a fantastic medium for rediscovering the past. The Certified Hunt Emerson app is the latest release from Panel Nine, the company who released the audio graphic novels Kickback and Dapper John and who’s publisher, Russell Willis, we have spoken to on the site previously. The Certified Hunt Emerson collection brings together a selection of this infamous British ‘comix’ artist’s work into one place and gives the audience a unique insight into each page thanks to Emerson’s own audio commentary and introductions to each piece which gives the work. Unfortunately there aren’t audio tracks for every strip and you can’t scroll between pages while the tracks play, which is a shame, but it still helps to give the respective pages a fantastic insight as you hear about their intricacies from the man himself.

As a child of the 80s I grew up on a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons and superheros, and perhaps my all-time favourite was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Every weekend I would love to see He-Man vanquish the evil Skeletor with the “Power of Grayskull” and it would all be wrapped up with a nice moral message at the end. So it was with some excitement that I started reading the new digital only relaunch of He-Man and the Master of the Universe from DC Comics to tie in with a new on-going series. What was even more exciting was the prospect of a first issue written by the one and only Geoff Johns!

Writer Grant Morrison is a divisive figure at the best of times, garnering passionate fandom and fervent derision in equal measure. For some he is the psychedelic master of twisted fairy tales, the writer of The Invisibles, Doom Patrol and Animal Man who is so adored he warrants his own convention. For others he is a pretentious, egomaniac whose long winded, rambling writing lacks the depth and subtlety of his big name contemporaries like Mark Millar Brian Bendis or Garth Ennis.

As with all ‘celebrity writer’ books, your opinion of Happy will be shaped by your opinion on Morrison. For those in the former camp it will no doubt be viewed as another tour de force that exhibits the same anarchic sense of wit and invention that have instilled his other titles. However for those, who fall into the latter camp it is much more of a challenging read, but one that may surprise even his most ardent haters.

This weeks we’re going to celebrate the diversity of digital comics with two titles that could not be more different, but each of which exemplify what is so great about the medium.

First up is Avengers vs X-Men #10 aka the 3rd Marvel Infinite title. Written by digital comics godfather Mark Waid and with art by Pipedream Comics favourite Reilly ‘Powerplay‘ Brown it features the kind of boombast and spectacle that comes from Marvel’s two top super teams duking it out in a summer crossover epic. Digital specific books often benefit from action rather than subtlety and AvsX #10 delivers this is spades thanks to Brown’s manga tinged artwork and his smart panel designs that he has clearly been honing in Powerplay. With a neat three tiered story that has Scarlet Witch simulating battle scenarios between the Avengers team and the Phoenix possessed Cyclops we get to see all three scenarios play out simultaneously with characters shifting in and out of shots simultaneously with some very neat transitions, giving the whole book an epic, cinematic feel. Brown still has some tricks up his sleeve for the talking head scenes though, and his use of layered pages (rather than sequential panels) along with clever use of eyes moving and heads turning within otherwise static panels give the book an animated feel, without taking away from the comic-ness of them. The balancing act of digital cleverness vs. readability is a always a tricky one but Waid and Brown and co do an excellent job here and have definitely created the best of the Infinite books so far.

At the other end of the spectrum is Thoughts from a Winter Morning by Kurt Busiek and Steve Lieber. Published by MonkeyBrain Comics, there are no superhero slugfests or sophisticated digital trickery in this book, just a man,  a dog and his memories.  This autobiographical ‘slice of life’ book is a sublime slice of Americana that sees Busiek reminisce on childhood past and look forward to the future with the story brilliantly realised by Steve Lieber’s expert linework and subtle use of colour.

In days gone by this would simply have been one of many entries in an anthology that relied on Busiek’s name value (along with several others) to get it solicited and published. (In fact that was how this story first existed in NEGATIVE BURN published in 2004). However thanks to the growth of digital and the opportunities it now gives to smaller publishers like MonkeyBrain to release personal and intimate books without worrying about solicitation and distribution, it can now get to exist as its own entity and enjoyed as such. Sure it helps that it is written by a name talent like Busiek but for every book like this that does, it helps make it possible for other MonkeyBrain titles (like the brilliant Masks And Mobsters, also released this week) to get attention. And it is that open market where quality has room to breathe which is as exciting in the world of digital comics as the large scale advances at Marvel Infinite.

Both Avengers vs. X-Men #10 and Thoughts From A Winter Morning are available on ComiXology