Comic Heroes - Old Habits (Die Hard)If you were to create a ven diagram of this site, then on one side you would have comics, on the other side you would have iPads and right in the middle where the two circles overlap would be Comic Hero: Old Habits (Die Hard). An interactive comic which you can read on your iPad it mixes old school text adventures with pulp crime comics. Starting in a jail cell you choose the direction you want the story to go in and it takes you on some wild and wonderful adventures. The folk behind it are developers Black Tobacco with writer Santiago Herrero and artist Manuel López Arambarri so I dropped them a line and asked them about the success of this great new app.

Champion! preview issueThe world of magazine publishing is a dynamic and shifting landscape that is seeing the old world order of printed pages being slowly usurped by a new dynamic digital world of interactive apps and websites. Since the closing of Wizard in January this year the main source for comics news has been via websites like Comic Book Resources, but now that gap may be filled with the arrival of Champion! – the ultimate comic book magazine.

An interactive iPad app/magazine from former Wizard Creative Director Steve Blackwell and former Wizard Editor in Chief Mike Cotton Champion! contains news, previews and interactive interviews . A free preview issue is now available on iTunes and it features Jim Lee discussing the DC relaunch and a roundtable with Mark Millar, Mike Mignola and Robert Kirkman on the growth of creator owned comics.  As well as traditional magazine style pages, there are also interactive elements such as 360 degree rotating product shots of action figures and embedded audio in the interviews. There also an interactive cover with exclusive Jim Lee art which shows you the development of the image from pencil to ink to coloured masterpiece and you can  interact direct with the team thanks to the live Twitter feed sections which allow you to give feedback directly to the creative team along the way.

The app itself looks great and is filled with the kind of high production values you would expect from such an experienced team. As with all launches, the first issue is still quite buggy with many of the pop ups not disappearing properly and so not allowing you to return to the original text which you have just navigated out of. However there are enough potentially new and exciting ideas in this that it will fill you with confidence about the product going forward as the potential is there for it to be something genuinely exciting.

The preview issue is available for free here with the first complete issue arriving 1st September

As a graphic designer I’ve always been a big fan of the look of a comics – often more so than the story. Growing up I used to love analysing the lettering in old comics books and then in the 90s everything changed with advent of digital and a new generation of super talented typographers started to appear. One of my favourites was Chris Eliopoulos whose work I first noticed on the Erik Larsen run of Amazing Spider-man and later on Savage Dragon. Chris’ lettering really captured the fun of Larsen’s artwork and later when I saw his artwork on Franklin Richards and Desperate Times I became a fan for life. Having seen Chris tweet about his love of all things Apple I dropped in a line to interview him for MacFormat, but while we chatted about iMacs and Thunderbolt ports, I also asked him a few questions about his new book Cowboy and his plans for it’s digital release.

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.

This month the brilliant Freak Angels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield published it’s final episode online. A brilliant steam punk story of Whitechapel based telepaths known as Freakangels who are born with special powers at the same time and swear and shag their way around a post flood London. Although not the first online web comic, it was one of the best in terms of great artwork and fantastic story telling. It’s brilliantly detailed, Manga inspired artwork was created by the super talented Paul Duffield (aka Spoonbard) and I dropped him a line to ask him about the legacy of Freakangels and just how difficult it was to produce his super detailed artwork on a weekly basis.

As well as writing features I also write reviews for Tap! and thought I would share them with. Back in issue 4  I reviewed the brilliant Inkpad from Steve Sprang (creator of Brushes). Inkpad is a fantastic vector illustration app for the iPad. For those not in the know, vector images are made using shapes and lines to create paths, rather than colouring in pixels, and these paths can then be manipulated using anchor points to create precise shapes with defined edges. These are perfect for creating logos or technical drawings, as they can then be scaled in size easily without any loss in quality because they are based on mathematical data rather than on pixels.

In 2008 I wrote an article for MacFormat magazine about artists who have started painting on the iPad and iPhone using apps like Brushes and SketchBook Pro. I met some fascinating folk like Corliss Blakely, Jonathan Garuel and Susan Murtaugh who were creating amazing pieces of artwork with just an iPad or iPhone. I also interviewed comic artist Dean Trippe (www.deantrippe.com) but unfortunately his answers didn’t make to me in time to make the article (due to them getting waylaid in spam filters and the cyber-netherworlds!), so I thought this might be a great chance to finally have his words see the light of day as he has some really interesting stuff to say about creating artwork on his iPhone and iPad.

When it comes to the best digital comics app on the iPad, there really is only one top dog – ComiXology’s Comics. The iTunes of comics apps, ComiXology are the pioneers of digital comics on the iPhone and iPad and the powerhouse behind Marvel, DC and Images own apps. As I explored the world of comics on the iPad, it got me wondering just how the titles are published and how would I go about getting my work published if I were an indie comics publisher. And who better to ask than the folk at ComiXology themselves. So if you’ve ever wondered what the secret is, here’s the answers, courtesy of ComiXology’s David Steinberger their founder and CEO !

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.