Melksham03What do you get if you combine Captain Jack Sparrow, Darth Vader and one of Despicable Me’s Minions with a sleepy Wiltshire market town and a sunny Saturday afternoon – why its the Melksham Comic Convention of course! We were there along with over 600 other eager geeks from all across the UK, so here’s our report on what went down.

Pipedream Comic logoIt’s been a landmark year for digital comics in 2012. We’ve seen them develop from simple page turners from a few leading lights to an increasingly diverse and exciting medium with offerings from the world’s biggest comics companies, alongside a whole host of new digital exclusive publishers and app creators. From Madefire and Marvel Infinite to MonkeyBrain and more, we have seen animated pages, immersive soundtracks and new companies developing comics and apps with new and exciting characters in new and exciting formats.

To celebrate this we want you the readers to help us choose the very best digital comic of the year 2012. Below is our shortlist of the top 10 titles we’ve seen this year and we want you to vote on them here at our Facebook page. Voting closes on Friday January 4th and we’ll announce the winner the winner on Monday January 7th so be sure to get voting!

Although not strictly in our remit here at Pipedream Comics, we were very excited this week by arrival of a copy of the DC Comics 75th Anniversary poster book from Quirk Books. Admittedly the book has been around since last summer and so doesn’t include the post-52 universe, but it’s still a fantastic read. Written by Robert Schnakenberg it covers the complete history of DC’s comics , dating back to 1935 and the debut issue of Fun magazine – the first comic published by eventual DC founder Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson. Each cover features a glorious full page poster with a breakdown of the books significance on the back including information about the story, characters, writers and artists. There’s everything in here from the first issue of Detective and Action Comics to the debuts of Batman, Superman and Green Lantern. One of the real highlights though is the pre-Comics Code books of the 1950s with obscure titles such as Mister District Attorney and Strange Adventures – a book which had a strange obsession with stories about scientifically altered gorillas!

It’s a brilliant visual history of DC‘s back catalogue serving as both an education for those who aren’t big fans or a walk down memory lane for those who are. With the breakdown of different titles on the back it’s a great way to remind fans that there is no such thing as a new idea and the notion of common images, themes and stories in comic books is not something new and is a key reason why companies have to keep re-inventing themselves.

As gorgeous as this is in print though, we always think forward to digital and we would love to see this become an app. Just imagine the full screen glossy covers on a retina iPad with the ability to zoom in to every tiny detail. Now that, really is the future of digital publishing completely embracing the past.

DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book is published by Quirk Books and can be be purchased here from Amazon.

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.

Apple's NewssatdnThis week saw the release of Apple’s new iOS5 operating system for iPad and iPhone. You might have missed it as it got somewhat lost amongst the tragic news of Steve Jobs passing and the internet backlash against the iPhone 4S, but it is probably the most exciting thing that will happen to digital publishing this year.

British artist Frazer Irving has worked his distinctive magic on such diverse books as classic 2000AD to Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated. If you’ve seen his digital artwork on his blog or Tumblr, then you will know he is a man who loves the world of digital comics, so I dropped him a line and asked him his thoughts on creating art on the iPad and the success of the DC relaunch.