“We could not find a platform or vehicle that is friendly to the reader…so we made one from scratch” Terry McCarthy, creator of Barkane, discusses cutting edge apps and ancient history
In a holding cell in ancient Greece, 3 prisoners await their fate – a woman, a drunk and a sea captain. As lightning splits the sky, a ballista bolt breaks through the prison window and the prisoners escape into the night. If this kind of action is getting your heart racing then read on as this is the opening scenes of Barkane the new series from writer Terry McCarthy. Available as both an iOS and Android app for tablets and smartphones, as well as via ComiXology’s Submit, it’s a brilliant mix of cutting edge digital comics and ancient action so we contacted Terry to find out more.
Can you give us a quick background on the characters involved and the story?
TMc: BARKANE is really a mission-impossible style story set in ancient times…where men survived by wit and brawn…and daring-do. Commander Barkane is one of my favorite characters from one of my books. He is fun to be around because he is a clever and ballsy as all hell. A take-no-prisoners character. He is really a James Bond of the ancient world. His true heroic trait is that he is essentially a patriot for his country…something anyone the world over can relate to!
I get bored easily. I hate it when someone tells me a book “really got gets going after fifty pages…”. When I hear that, I’m like, “Really? Fifty pages? Why doesn’t the story kick ass on PAGE ONE?!”
My stories kick ass on page one.
It’s set in the days of Alexander the Great, is that just an area that you are particularly interested in?
TMc: I set the story in this era because I like a good old-fashioned swash-buckling story. And there are not a lot of complicated tools at everyone’s disposal…it is them and their wits and that is about it. Plus I have a deep knowledge of ancient history and I have studied even the non-mainstream histories, like the world of Barkane’s homeland, Carthage.
Why create a cutting edge app-based comic and set it in the past?
TMc: I used a cutting-edge app only because I am a product of modernity…besides…my readers don’t read as many books as they used to! My style of writing is cinematic anyway so the illustrated app is a great way for Barkane to rock through his world and reach more readers.
Tell us a bit about your creative process? Are you writing and drawing the entire thing yourself (and coding?)? Do you create the story first and then think about the visuals or do you try and make the most of them on screen?
TMc: Jeff Honeyman is my head writer and editor and he I wrote the story together and we had several different artists work on the art. Talented people from the Philippines, Romania, Argentina and Brazil. Indian and Chinese coders helped develop the app. We simply made the visuals follow the story because, well, the story is bad-ass so we knew the art would be too!
Is this your first comics project or have you produced other work?
TMc: I have published several books and this is my second app. I have also written screenplays so…I have quite a bit of writing under my belt.
Why did you choose to publish Barkane as an app first and not a digital edition or a web version? Did you look at any other app-based publishers for inspiration?
TMc: We developed our own app for the story because I have been unhappy with the state of digital comics. We could not find a platform or vehicle that is friendly to the reader…easy to use. Likewise, we were none too impressed by most of the app publishers…So we made one from scratch – problem solved.
There’s quite a big difference between reading comics on a tablet screen compared to a phone screen, did you make any adjustments for each version and how important is getting a phone version out there do you think?
TMc: Frankly, all I ever cared about were phone screens. That is where I want my stories – right in the palm of peoples’ hands. So every thing we did revolved around phone screens first. I made very few compromises in favor of the tablet experience. That was my choice.
The Barkane app is available on Android as well as iOS how important was that for you?
TMc: An Android version is a must. I want EVERONE to read BARKANE. Even me…I have an Android as my primary. 🙂
Your latest step is to release it via ComiXology. Can you tell us a bit about how and why that came about? Will the book make the most of Guided View?
TMc: We are really just testing the water with Comixology. They are such a big player, you can’t ignore them. They have brought a lot of cool stories to the marketplace. BARKANE is already a seamless read, so the Guided View feature of Comixology is redundant for us.
Finally, where did you get the title of Barkane from?
TMc: In my mythology, Commander Barkane is the grandfather of Hannibal, you know, the famous bad-ass who crossed the alps into Rome. I figure that is a pretty good bloodline. Hannibal was of the famous Barca clan. His old man was also a bad-ass, Hamilcar. So I just made up the name Barkane…the root of it is Barca. Which is fitting. Bad-ass begets bad-ass begets bad-ass. I love it.
You can download the Barkane app for iPhone and iPad from the iTunes Store for free (and then purchase episodes in-app for £1.99). You can also purchase issue #1 direct from ComiXology here. For more information about Barkane visit their website www.barkane.com