“Sequential is kind of like the HBO of graphic novels” Russell Willis publisher of Sequential on his new digital storefront app for the iPad
Sequential is the brilliant new digital comics app from Panel Nine, the team behind deluxe graphic novels like Verity Fair and Dapper John. Taking those titles, and putting them under one handy storefront, alongside books from other small UK publishers like Knockabout, Myriad and Blank Slate, it’s a fantastic way for out of print titles from comics legends like David Lloyd, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland to reach a new digital audience. Keen to find out more about this unique app we contacted publisher Russell Willis to ask him for the lowdown on this new venture and how it was set to take on the might of ComiXology!
Sequential draws together your Panel Nine deluxe graphic novel apps like Dapper John and Kickback and puts them into one storefront, tell us a bit about how the idea for this came about and how do you think this approach benefits the readers compared to the app only approach?
RW: Sequential has all of the deluxe features of the Panel Nine apps and more… and it’s designed for a mainstream audience that knows nothing of superheroes and is quite happy that way… Having a place where you can build a library of great graphic novels without having She-Hulk scare you away at the door is very important. Sequential is kind of like the HBO of graphic novels.
You’ve also joined forces with publisher like Knockabout and Myriad to add more titles to the store, how did this come about and do they offer the same kind of interactive features as the Panel Nine books?
RW: Not only Knockabout and Myriad, but also Blank Slate — with Walker Books, SelfMadeHero, Jonathan Cape and others in the pipeline… Like ourselves, these publishers saw the need to create a digital space on the iPad where you could read “literary graphic novels”, work of merit, undisturbed by the lurid distractions of geekdom. Books from these publishers will initially be in a standard format (a format streets ahead of other apps) but many of them will have “Expanded” features added, in the way that our apps by Eddie Campbell and David Lloyd had audio added, along with interviews, productions sketches, international covers, etc. etc. We’re currently discussing the Expanded features for Nelson from Blank Slate, which is very exciting.
What do you think Sequential offers readers that other digital comics platforms like ComiXology and Comics Plus can’t?
RW: Firstly, a far better and more responsive user experience — from the way our in-app purchase system works and our library works, to the actual reading engine which is smooth and responsive. Our reading engine has Panel Mode for viewing comics panel-by-panel, a cool visual contents, a neat bookmarking system, audio, video and more (through the app’s HTML 5 capabilities). We also have Sequential Mode built in to the app, which is akin to what Mark Waid is doing with Thrillbent but has a few tweaks that make it really something special. There’s a free story using our Sequential Mode that you can download from the Sequential app.
Above and beyond that though, Sequential is designed for a different audience than the others you mention — we’re looking to take graphic novels seriously, and take them to a mainstream audience.
Sequential relies largely on reprinting rare and out of print titles for a new iPad audience, can you give us an idea what other titles will be joining the collection this year and are there any plans to bring any new titles on to the platform?
RW: Well, in fact, Sequential has, and will have, loads of new and recent titles. Right now we have From Hell, Nemo, The Lovely Horrible Stuff, The Silver Darlings, Science Tales and many, many more which would not be considered either rare or out of print, and we will be releasing new graphic novels at the same time as they are published in print.
If you could any any title or writer/artists back catalogue to the Sequential catalogue who would you chose and why?
RW: Posy Simmonds and Raymond Briggs. Along with Eddie Campbell they form the triumvirate of the best British graphic novelists Britain has ever produced. We’re delighted to already feature Eddie Campbell’s work, and through Jonathan Cape, it looks like we’ll be featuring Posy and Raymond’s books. Possibly in Expanded versions too. I’m delighted.