benwolstenholmeEarlier this week we grilled Madefire‘s Ben Wolstenholme about the secrets behind the creation of his man-monster MONO and his series The Old Curiosity Shop, but what about the man himself? Where does he see Madefire heading in the next 12 months, how does it impact upon his agency Moving Brands and how the hell did he get involved this crazy world of Motion Books anyway? (And why so many brands beginning with the letter M?!) The story continues… 

Madefire ComicsIf you’ve read our exclusive interview with Ben Wolstenhome then you’ll know that Madefire has not only redefined digital comics with their unique brand of Motion Books but were also included in  The App Store’s Best of 2012 list as well as securing the inaugural ‘Digital Comic of the Year 2012’ from this very site for Captain Stone is Missing.

With 32 episodes released to date through their renowned iOS app and a partnership with social media giant deviantART offering the titles to the web, they’ve had a busy 2013. But what’s next for the studio that brought acclaimed titles like Treatment, Mono, Captain Stone is Missing…, and Houses of the Holy to fans worldwide? More Motion Books, of course – and we’ve got an amazing sneak peak!

benwolstenholmeIn the world of Madefire motion books, Ben Wolstenholme is often the forgotten man, cast into the shadow of comic luminaries Liam Sharp and Dave Gibbons – however he is every bit as vital to the company’s success as his more famous co-founders.  If Sharp and Gibbons are Lennon and McCartney then Wolstenholme is George Harrison bringing a different dimension to this band of digital comic pioneers. In the case of Wolstenholme (and to keep this metaphor running!) it’s not Eastern mysticism that he brings, but a unique blend of graphic design savvy and commercial illustration nous that are helping to push Madefire‘s motion books to new heights. Keen to find out his story, we contacted Ben to learn more about the man behind Madefire, Moving Brands and man-mountain Mono

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The Madefire team’s plan for world domination has taken another step closer to fruition today with the announcement of an exclusive partnership with digital art community DeviantART. Having taken over the world of the iPad, and more recently the iPhone and iPod touch too, with titles such as Captain Stone is Missing (Pipedream Comics Digital Comic of the Year), Mono and Treatment the team of Liam Sharp and Ben Wolstenholme have blazed a trail that have left many competitors in the dust. With this deal their innovative brand of ‘motion comics’ will be available to the 28 million members of DeviantART community around the world to enjoy on any desktop PC, and is set to expand their readership to new heights.

Madefire ComicsWe always love the arrival of new Madefire titles, and this month we have had not one but two new installments of Dave Gibbon’s brilliant Treatment series. If you’ve not checked it out before, Treatment is a global televisual phenomenon whereupon the guilty are judged live on TV for the pleasure of an increasingly blood-thirsty audience. With franchises in different cities it makes for a brilliantly imaginative franchise and one of the most consistent in the Madefire catalogue.

Captain Stone is Missing #5 (Madefire)In case you haven’t been keeping up with the latest episodes of Madefire‘s Captain Stone is Missing (and if not why not!) then you might have missed a little guest star on the cover of issues 4 and 5 – us! That’s right, on the cover of the last two instalments of Captain Stone is a little message celebrating the fact that it was voted digital comic of the year, by the readers of this very website. This has made our year, so we thought it was about time we had a little self-congratulatory post to celebrate this awesome milestone for both this site and digital comics! Captain Stone is free to download via the Madefire app on the iPad, so be sure to check it out!

Captain Stone #4 (Madefire)The newest installment of Captain Stone is Missing, aka the Digital Comic of the Year 2012, has hit the Madefire app and not only is it another bleeding edge example of what the motion comic app can produce, but it features this little website on the cover alongside artwork from the legendary Bill Sienkiewicz! This latest episode, (it feels wrong to call it an issue!) delves further into the back story of the Captain, and his subsequent fall from grace with writers Liam Sharp and Christina McCormack managing to completely enthral without much happening beyond exposition.

Captain Stone is Missing 1 cover (Madefire)It’s been an amazing year for digital comics and after a fortnight of frantic voting on Facebook, we are proud to announce that the winner of the inaugural Pipedream Comics Digital Comic of the Year 2012′ is ‘Captain Stone is Missing‘ by Liam Sharp, Christina McCormack and the team at Madefire.

What we said about Captain Stone:
“A cutting edge tour de force of digital comics. Showcasing the Madefire app’s motion comics technology to its utmost, Captain Stone merges a multitude of art styles with stunning interactive elements and physical effects, and a mean and moody soundtrack…. it has become one of the most sophisticated digital titles around.”

What the winners said…
“Myself, Christina and all at Madefire are delighted that Captain Stone is Missing… has been voted digital comic of the year! 2012 proved to be the year that digital storytelling came of age, and we faced some genuinely stiff competition. Congratulations to all the other story teams that made the top ten list, and here’s to more good things in 2013!”
— Liam Sharp, CCO Madefire, writer/artist of Captain Stone

The final standings
1.    Captain Stone is Missing (MadeFire)   379 votes
2.    Powerplay (Kurt Christenson/Reilly Brown173 votes
3.    Kickback (Panel Nine) 91 votes
4.    Double Barrel (Top Shelf Comix) 26 votes
5.    Upgrade Soul (Opertoon) 21 votes
6=   Treatment Tokyo (MadeFire) 9 votes
6=   Insufferable (Thrillbent) 9 votes
8.    Aesops Ark (MonkeyBrain) 8 votes
9.    Avengers vs. X-Men Infinite (Marvel) 6 votes
10.  Bottom of the Ninth (Ryan Woodward) 2 votes

For details on the full shortlist you can find out more here

To celebrate Madefire’s inclusion in Apple’s iPad mini presentation this week,  we thought we’d round up the latest batch of titles from the current top dog in digital comics.  Regular readers will know we’re big fans of their app and following on from the initial prologue releases Liam Sharp and company have been steadily unleashing a menagerie of fantastic characters and new titles – from robot men, vampire girls and villainous kidnapper who steal children across time!

The new Madefire comic app from Liam Sharp and Ben Wolstenholme isn’t just the cutting edge of digital comics, it’s a completely new format – the motion comic! After speaking to Liam about it back in September last year, this week finally saw the launch of the much anticipated Madefire app and it’s first 3 titles –  Captain Stone is Missing, Mono and Treatment Tokyo. All three are prologues or first chapters to the up-coming titles that Madefire are planning to launch and can be viewed on their completely bespoke viewing platform for free.

Make no mistake, this isn’t just a re-skinned version of ComiXology! Using it’s own bespoke navigation system (the Madefire arrow, which sits on the right hand side of the page and serves as page turner and progress bar) you can view pages literally building in front of you thanks to a series of fantastic animated transitions. There are also cinematic zooms and intricately constructed pages which make the titles feel like much more than just a flat page-turner.  They even use the iPad’s accelerometer on some of the pages (including each book’s cover) to allow you to move elements around on screen while other pages involve 360 degree panoramas that really bring the books to life, but are they any good? Well here is our break down of the first three Madefire titles.