The growth of digital comics apps for the iPad has created an exciting new market place for independent comics publishers. With regular sales promoting titles from smaller publishers, ComiXology does a great job of getting it’s readers to check and out and sample new titles with the convenience of a digital download. One such title which I was tempted to check out for the the first time recently is The Sixth Gun from Oni Press. A supernatural western it combines all your favourite elements of the classic wild west with a brilliantly gothic under current that would make HP Lovecraft or Mike Mignola proud. The man behind the title is writer Cullen Bunn, who you might be more familiar with from his run on Marvel’s Fear Itself, so I got in touch with him to ask just what the effect of digital sales are having on books like The Sixth Gun. 

Leinil Yu burst onto the comics scene in the late 90s after winning a Wizard magazine drawing board competition, but he followed that up with awesome runs on some of Marvel’s biggest titles like Wolverine and Uncanny X-Men. His spiky, unconventional style is part anime, part abstract but always phenomenally detailed and totally unique. However it was his work with Brian Bendis on Secret Invasion and Mark Millar on Ultimate Avengers that really helped bring him to the attention of mainstream comics fans. That latter run in particular helped build his relationship with Millar and developed into the fantastic creator-owned title, Superior, which was released via Icon Comics last year and is coming to a [no doubt explosive] conclusion very soon. With another collaboration with Millar called Supercrooks, launching soon I got in touch with Leinil to ask him about what it was like to work with some of the comics industry’s best writers and what was next for the man from Manilla?

The aura of a number one issue has diminished to the point of meaninglessness over the years. Whether you blame the multi format 90s where every major franchise got rebooted and relaunched or the the post-DC52/digital boom of today where there seems to be a dozen new series launched every week,  the aura of a first chapter on a journey has lost some of its magic. However just as every journey has to start with a first step, so every great comic story must start with an issue 1, which brings us to this weeks digital must-have – Saga #1 from Image Comics.

Unlike other big name writers who seem be getting a new series every other week, the start of a new Brian K Vaughan book is still something to behold. The man who created the mind bending Y: The Last Man and who helped fine tune the brilliant Lost was never going to give you a dull book but Saga is something truly exceptional. Covering epic issues of love, fate, politics, religion and loss with a generous dose of epic space battles and kings with TVs for heads the only thing which I can compare it to is the brilliant Sandman by Neil Gaiman – but in space! Just as with Gaiman’s sprawling epic, it is the combination of intelligent narrative and stunning art that makes this book stand out from the rest. In the hands of a lesser artist the could become tacky or trite, but with the deft touch of Fiona Staples it has a mature dignity that helps mark it out as something truly special. Both the characters and the world they inhabit are perfectly crafted and with the psychedelic hand drawn lettering gives it a unique feel that even Mssrs Gaiman and McKean would be proud of.

Stretching to a substantial 44 pages, the story follows Marko and Alana and the birth of their daughter into the midst of an intergalactic war. She’s a winged ‘angel’ he’s a horned ‘devil’ although it’s far more complex than those obvious stereotypes would suggest. With the two parents on either side of the conflict, this is also more that just your usual doomed love storyline as Vaughan has created a complete universe of trouble for the characters to negotiate – not to mention the trials and tribulations of parenthood. It’s not all doom and gloom though and there is a  generous dose of surreal humour and some eye popping visuals as well which make Saga well worth checking out for anyone looking for something different to the normal superheroes or space operas this week.

Saga is available via ComiXology or from the Image Comics app for £2.49.

Hellboy convention sketch by Duncan FegredoIt’s always great to see the fantastic artwork people can create on the iPad using just their fingers and a generous dose of creative flair. But it’s even better to see what comic professionals can rustle up when not working on their latest masterpiece. Last month I found this brilliant iPad painting by Hellboy artist Duncan Fegredo on the WhatNot blog and was just blown away. I’ve been a huge fan of Duncan’s for as long as he has been drawing Hellboy for Dark Horse and so knew I had to get in touch with him to ask him more about his experience of painting on the iPad and also, his thoughts on drawing the devil’s son.

This week saw Apple launch it’s new iPad, with the now traditional circus of ridiculous hype followed by crushing disappointment followed by venomous online backlash. Although the Apple community may be baulking at the fact it doesn’t have a futuristic touch sensitive input interface or 24TB of storage in a thinner, faster cheaper, better design, the art community have several reasons to be very pleased with the new iPad, but just what is the fuss about this new tablet all about?

Manhattan Projects Comics issue 1It’s going to be a bit of a Jonathan Hickman special this week for the Pipedreamcomic Pull List. First up is his new creator owned series The Manhattan Projects published Image Comics. We’ve been fans of Hickman for a while here on Pipedream Comics thanks to his excellent run on Fantatstic Four and the new Ultimates, but with The Manhattan Projects it’s a return to his earlier pre-Marvel work (but more of that later).

Manhattan Projects is essentially an alternative history of the atomic bomb project, set in a world of telepathy and aliens more reminiscent of Dark Horse’s BPRD than a dry old history book about physicists! It tells the story of the arrival of Robert Oppenheimer to the project, but also of his relationship with his twisted twin brother, Joseph. Told in a series of split-screens, it uses colour brilliantly to juxtapose to the two characters’ very different back stories. With fantastic art by  Nick Pitarra,whose work is reminiscent of Geof Darrow and Frank Quitely, it has an ultra detailed and textured feel which counter balances the brilliantly stark graphics of the cover. It gets especially Darrow-esque with the invasion of Death Buddhas (Japanese Samurai robots) half way though, as they attempt to thwart the project and provides a bit of drama and action to really liven up the book.

With it’s dark and twisted undercurrent, this is going to be much more than just an alternative history cum parody of the atomic bomb project, and with the twist at the end, it sets the rest of the series off in a very intriguing direction. We can’t wait for issue #2!

Also available this month is a collection of Hickmans creator owned titles called Test Pattern. included in there are the brilliant The Nightly News, but also Pax Romana, Transhuman, A Red Mass for Mars and Red Wing for the grand total of £24.99. Although not cheap, you get a hell of a lot of comics for your money, but if that is a bit pricey for you though, make sure to check out the sample pack of issue 1s which are available for free, and might even persuade you to part with your cash and get the whole lot. Alternatively each volume is available for £5.49 (or £6.99 for The Nightly News)

The Manhattan Projects are available from Comixology and the Image Comics app for £2.49 with Test Pattern available for £24.99 or check out the first issues of all 5 series available for free.

MoonShot Comics coming soon to your iPad, PC or tabletIt’s an exciting time for small publishers on the iPad and we’re always excited to hear about new upstart ventures. The latest is Moonshot Comics, started by former Nickelodeon executive (and long time comics fan) George Lentino. It’s much more than just a new publisher though, it’s a one stop shop of digital expertise and creative thinking that is hoping to offer writers, artists and readers a new way of looking at and experiencing the world of digital comics. This is could be another fantastic option for those looking for something different to the traditional work of the big comic publishers and so ahead of it’s official launch this summer we got in touch with George and asked him to tell us a bit more about the Moonshot Comics Mission Statement!

It’s been a busy week for the big two, with a couple of major announcements from each company. First up was the appearance of a new dedicated area in the Apple iBooks Store for Marvel Graohic novels. A handful of titles have been available for a while now, but with this announcement and it’s appearance on the front of the iBooks store it’s a major move for Marvel. Their relationship with Apple has been every strong over the years, with their iPad app one of the showcase titles at the launch of the the first iPad back in 2008. However they have taken a bit of a back seat in the world of individual digital issues since then with Dc really leading the way thanks to their prominent position with their dedicated store on the ComiXology app. Perhaps this is a reflection of the House of M’s long term strategy for digital content on the iPad, preferring to prioritise collections rather than individual issues. If that is the case then there aren’t many better places to develop that plan than in the iBooks store.

Currently there is a good, but not comprehensive, collection of titles on there, featuring all your favourite Marvel characters and some classic titles like Marvel Zombies and Mark Millar’s Ultimates at the competitive prices of £5.49 per volume. Alongside these are more recent titles such as Dan Slott’s recent Spiderman books and Brian Bendis’ New Avengers, however how regularly these are updated and filled with new content has yet to be seen. And it will be interesting to see if other publishers follow Marvels lead and join up with Apple.

Meanwhile, DC have not been resting on their laurels and have released a new app showcasing their Vertigo imprint. As is the case with a lot of other title specific apps (Walking Dead, Transformers etc) it is just a re-skinned version of the Comics app, however it is loaded with some of the best titles of the past 25 years. Already on there are complete runs of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Garth Ennis’ Preacher and Warren Ellis’s Transmetropolitan alongside more recent titles like Adam Hughes and Bill Willingham’s Fables and Mike Allred’s iZombie. As with the main app there is a great section outlining which books are worth checking out and so If you’ve never read any of these infamous titles then this is a great way to check them out and really shows how great the digital medium is as a way to collect classic comics together in one place.

Pocket God iconThere’s nothing we love more in life than torturing a couple of pygmies. Whether it’s pushing them around their little tropical habitat or zapping them with lightning, we can be a vengeful god on a wet Monday afternoon! Before you think we have gone completely sociopathic though,  we probably should mention that we don’t actually hunt down indigenous rain forest dwellers in order to bestow physical harm on them, we just do it on our iPhones with the awesome Pocket God game from Bolt Creative. We spoke to the team behind the brilliant comic, Publisher Dave Hedgecock and artist Rollo Mallado, last year, but what about the game itself? With it’s 43rd episode recently released, we got in touch with co-creator Allan Dye to ask, just what is it about torturing pygmies that makes people so happy?!