There are few comics writers who carve as individual a niche as Alan Moore. From his ground-breaking books Watchmen and From Hell to era-defining runs on Swamp Thing and 2000AD, when Moore speaks the comics world takes note – even if that is simply to pour scorn on his supposed ‘grumpy old man of comics’ viewpoint. On the eave of launching the latest incarnation of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen he has spoken to the Guardian about publishing his books away from the strict deadline-centric regimes of DC and Marvel and in particular the prospect of turning his books into interactive reading experiences on a tablet. Here’s what he had to say on the matter…

I have nothing against putting it on one of those devices per se except that it would require a complete rethink of that actual medium. The way the comics companies I believe are producing online comics is that they are old comics uploaded online and made available. That I don’t think is the way to do it, because comics storytelling is entirely predicated upon the print technologies of the late 1930s. We have six panels of page on average because that was the optimum numbers of panels to put on a page in a periodical of something like 32 pages. This is what has formed the very language of the comic book. The fact that you turn over the pages. And you can time it so that turning over a page will be the moment of some big revelation. Which you wouldn’t want your reader to have spotted on page 24 just because it’s opposite page 23. And subtler things that really affected the way that a comic story should be told.

So what I’m saying is that I don’t think these devices are quite there yet but they have some very interesting possibilities. But before we would be thinking about putting something like the League into that format, I would want to think long and hard about the possible advantages of that new medium and the ways in which my storytelling craft would have to be adapted to best effect from this new medium. Much the same as when comics were just a 24-page thing that you drew on pieces of paper. I was always trying to find what the medium was capable of and to push it as far as possible. Like I said I’ve been having some thoughts about this. People shouldn’t be too surprised if they were to hear something about me working in this kind of area.”

To read more about Moore’s future plans and to find out more about the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1969 project you can find the full interview here.

When it came to designing the logo for this site, as a designer by trade I knew it had to be a good one! So rather than just use a slightly ropey freeware comics font, or worse Brushstroke or Comics San, I decided to invest in a couple of fonts from the brilliant Comic Book Fonts website run by Comicraft’s Richard Starkings. It was while looking around on his site, that I realised that Richard and the guys at Comicraft are way more than just comic book letterers. They are publishers, artists and digital pioneers, so who better than to ask about their opinion on the wonderful world of digital comics.

1. Marvel to release Ultimates, Spiderman and X-Men titles ‘day and date’.
In other words print and digital titles will be released simultaneously. It’s a horrible phrase but this is a huge deal for Marvel with DC already launching their books on the same day as printing and planning to roll out their 52 reboot simultaneously across both platforms. This could finally be the tipping point where digital becomes as important as print in the house of M as Marvel plan to start the roll out with the complete Ultimates line up in August (the final Ultimate Spiderman having already tested the waters for a same day release). This will be followed by the Spider-man titles in September which include the eagerly anticipated Dan Slott written Spider-Island saga. The X-Men titles will join the day and date gang in October with Avengers and all new titles following soon after in a push to ensure all major titles are running day and date in order to maximize the new reader potential of the Avengers movie in 2012. It’s exciting times for the world of digital comics as the big boys finally put their weight behind the medium.

2.Todd McFarlane says ‘bet against’ DC Comics 52 relaunch
Image co-founder and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane caused a bit of a storm with his comments to Comic Book Resources about the new DC relaunch. Saying he would “bet against it” and that it’s a “fools game”  McFarlane was highly critical of  DC’s plans to relaunch titles simultaneously, saying he would have preferred a staggered release over the course of 8-9 months in order to boost sales across all titles rather than spike sales of issue 1s. Comparing it to Apple’s product launch he said “Apple doesn’t say we’re going to release the new iPod, iPad, Macbook and I’ll talk to you about the cloud, all in the same day”.  As an instrumental part of the 90s comics book boom with his own Spider-man #1 and subsequent Image Comics, Todd knows a thing or two about spiking sales, as you would hope would fellow Image founder Jim Lee, now publisher at DC. When it comes to digital comics and piracy, Todd was more circumspect saying, “You can’t undo the mindset of  ‘I like to be in my pyjamas, hit a button and get my comic books’ . You have to do what the music people do and say, we want you to download, but not download for free”.  He was also keen to push the idea of digital comics being cheaper than print, saying that the 99c comic could be a profitable option once you remove printing, binding and distribution costs, again comparing it to the music model of offering 99c songs, but was not prepared to announce a Spawn release on the digital platform.

For the full interview pop on over to Comic Book Resources here and see him talk about everything from Spawn and Haunt to the positive influence of Robert Kirkman on the Image Comics family.

3.Dark Horse to launch Star Wars titles digitally for 20th anniversary
With the Dark Horse iPad app now in full effect, it was only a matter of time before it felt the full power of the force. Just in time for the 20th anniversary of Star Wars comics, Dark Horse announced they will not only be releasing new issues directly on the app, but that each week they would also be releasing classic back issues such as the Marvel adaptation of New Hope alongside expanded universe story lines like Crimson Empire and Knights of the Old Republic.   Also announced for their fall line-up are of books based on Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro’s best-selling novel series The Strain, a new partnership with Valve to create comics based on their hit video games line and Orchid from former Rage Against The Machine Guitarist Tom Morello.

4. Frank Miller unveils the trailer to Holy Terror
We’re huge fans of the creator of Sin City here at Pipedream Comics and so the prospect of a new Frank Miller book in 2011 got us very excited indeed. Judging by this sneak preview, Frank has not lost a step with his time behind the movie camera and in actual fact has given his stories an even more cinematic feel than ever before. This will be the first released book from the newly formed Legendary Comics, and what would be the chance of him releasing it as an interactive app – we can but dream surely?! We’ll find out September 11th!

5. Ape Entertainment announce Cut The Rope the comic
We’re huge fans of the Ape Entertainment guys, (as you can see from our interview here) so news that they are releasing a comic of hit iPhone/iPad game cut the rope is just fantastic. After the great job they did on Pocket God you know that Om Nom will be in good hands and we can’t wait to check out his back story and all the new characters that are promised. Released in late August, Cut The Rope will be available as a digital only comic via its own app.

When you do a search on iTunes for ‘comics’ you get the familiar array of apps from the big publishers like Marvel, DC, Image and ComiXology. But hidden in among these monster apps is a little icon with a angry pygmy on it called PG Comics. If you’re an iOS gamer you might recognise the name Pocket God as the hit iPhone game, but in this incarnation it’s a self published comic from the guys at Ape Entertainment. It’s a real gem written by the very talented Jason M Burns with awesome art from Uruguayan artist Rolando Mallada. I wanted to find out more about how this little title could outsell the big boys, so I got in touch with Ape’s publisher Dave Hedgecock and asked him what it’s like to carve your own niche in the brave new world of digital publishing!

Todd McFarlane’s Spiderman #1 is one of the featured titles on Marvel’s iPad app this week which got me feeling rather nostalgic. You see, growing up as a comics fan in the 90s, the most iconic book for me wasn’t Amazing Fantasy 15 or Action Comics #1 it was  Spiderman #1. I’d been  a Todd McFarlane fanboy from the moment I first picked up Amazing Spiderman #317 and saw Venom and Spidey go back and forth while surrounded by Todd’s trademark webs. His pencils were so exciting and dynamic and the weird poses he had Spidey contort into were just mind-boggling and unlike anything I had seen before. So, as his run on ASM came and went,  the prospect of seeing Todd not only drawn but also write, his own title was a fanboy’s dream come true.

One of the real success stories of comics on the iPad is IDW Publishing. Not only do they have a strong presence on ComiXology but they also have a series of their own apps  based on hit series like Transformers, True Blood and Dr Who. With smaller independents flourishing in this new market place, I got the chance to ask IDW’ Publishing’s Jeff Webber, their director of e-publishing, about some of the success stories at IDW and just how he sees the future for smaller comics publishers like IDW.

While researching this article I tried to get in touch with all my favourite artists and writers in the faint hope that they might be able to spare some time from their busy schedules to answer my questions. After sending out emails to everyone of note in my comics collection, one of the first people to get back in touch with me was the fantastic Kurt Busiek of Astro City and Marvels fame. Growing up I was a massive fan of Kurt’s work on Marvels and I was so excited to hear what he had to say, and here it is…

While investigating the world of iPad comics apps I came across this little gem in the ComiXology Comics app. As well as distributing the adventures of the world’s top super heroes, ComiXology have also published their own titles, in particular the Box 13 series by writer David Gallaher and artist Steve Ellis. Both David and Steve were really helpful in my research and below is the full transcript of my interview with them which never quite made it into the article as planned.

The copy of Tap! with my feature in arrived in the office this morning and so I can now start populating this blog with all the extra interviews I did.

To read the article you can click on the thumbnails below or you can read all about it here and order it online. Alternatively issue 6 of Tap! is on sale from July 6th and is available in all good newsagents.