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DC Madefire!

Posted by Graves ,
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It’s two years ago. Ben (Wolstenholme), Graves (Englund), Eugene (Walden) and I visit DC Entertainment in Burbank to show them what we are up to. We are doing something new with comic tropes, reinventing the grammar (and if that sounds too grandiose, go check out Kinman Chan’s Treatment: Tokyo story on the Madefire app. It’s proven to be a game changer for all of us!)

Hank Kanalz, being the digital visionary that he is, sees right away we have something new, and he’s excited about it. You can see the cogs in his not-inconsiderable-sized brain working. You can practically hear them spinning! This is the best digital comic work he had seen. It’s the future!

The very next day we are called back to show Madefire to Jim Lee.

Allow me a moment to talk about Jim:

Right now he is quantifiably the most important man in comics. He is one of the top brass at DC Entertainment, and he created the biggest selling comic of all time when he drew the X-Men for Marvel Comics in the early 90s. Jim is – indirectly – responsible for my first big break, in that it was the house-style he was pioneering with Scott Williams and others that most inspired my work on Death’s Head II. That got me X-Men gigs, a run on the Hulk and a Spiderman story, which led on to Batman and Superman jobs. And Jim also offered me a chance to join him in La Jolla in San Diego during the first amazing days of Image Comics (I chose to stay with Marvel back then, a choice I’ve long questioned!) But more importantly than any of this, he is a formidable artist. His work remains amongst my favorite of any of the mainstream guys. His figures are solid, beautiful and powerful. His layouts are decorative, finely detailed. He makes everything look bigger and better, slick and white-hot. He’s a damn genius is what he is!

So the next day Jim comes in to see what Madefire is all about. He’s been up until 5.00am working and has had very little sleep. He’s exhausted. We take him through the material, show him the work we are still developing, and that we haven’t even launched yet. Nobody has seen it, other than Hank, and we don’t know how it’s going to go over. Jim keeps a poker face, but there’s electricity in the room.

“Can the stories bifurcate?” he asks.

We look at each other. Can they?

I had dreamed of giant story-clouds, vast interwoven narratives, stories that branch and split and double back. It had always been a part of the concept pitch, but still – could we actually do it?

“Yes.” Says Eugene, our CTO, emphatically. And he should know!

Soon Jim has planned out an amazing structure of crossing narratives and dead-ends. He pins it to the wall. He’s excited. This hasn’t been done before. This is genuinely new.

The journey has started!

Today we launch the sum of that journey – the culmination of a combined DC Entertainment/Madefire vision: Batman: Arkham Origins – a DC² Multiverse Graphic Novel. It’s a vast web, with choices and dead-ends. It’s a story that has consequences, and that can only be told digitally. It’s a game changer!

Huge thanks to Hank and Jim for having the belief, and daring to break molds and help reinvent the possibilities of this medium. I’ve heard it said that this is the age where science and art will be the key definers, and will drive humanity forward in ways we can barely envisage. It’s an honor to be a part of that!

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In Hellboy Heaven

Posted by Graves ,
News, Liam's Journal | Permalink | Comments

I’ve loved Mike Mignola’s work for a VERY long time – longer than perhaps either of us would like to admit! Right from the first book I remember, Truimph & Torment, the Marvel Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom graphic novel of 1989, he was one of those love-at-first-sight artists – instantly iconic, instantly impressive, and always idiosyncratic. You can’t mistake a Mignola for anybody else, despite the many creators that have been influenced by him.

There are too many great Mignola books to call out – I believe I may have all his books, and there’s not one that isn’t worth owning – but for the sake of brevity there are three I’ll talk about that remain particular favourites.

FAFHRD and the GRAY MOUSER

Faithfully adapted from the famous stories by Fitz Lieber, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser from 1991, was a series of four prestige books produced by Marvel’s Epic line. The characters are so wonderfully realized, and the stories so charmingly acted throughout that you can’t help but be swept away. There’s also a kind of shorthand in the storytelling in Hellboy that seemed, to my eyes at least, to really have evolved out of these books. Design – always a factor in Mignola art – is a huge part of what makes them so special, and the world is fully evolved, the culture feels so tangible. Book four, in particular, has a cover that contains echoes of what was to come – including a character that looks remarkably like a certain Abe Sapien…

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IRONWOLF: FIRES of the REVOLUTION

The next book that I absolutely adored was Ironwolf: Fires of the Revolution, written by Howard Chaykin and John Francis Moore. A tale of flying wooden ships, a vampire elite and lion men, it’s full of charm and derring-do. With an extreme economy of line Mignola can create an extraordinary breadth of expression, but he also really knows form and lighting, so everything is incredibly solid. It’s a stunning book. Track it down in hardback. You won’t regret it!

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HELLBOY

When Hellboy came along – based on a convention drawing that triggered a thought process that resulted in the creation of the book – it was a genuine ‘event’. Within the industry, particularly amongst artists, Mignola was already revered – much more, I believed, than he ever personally knew! – and Hellboy didn’t disappoint. Mythology, folklore and crime procedurals collided in a manner that Mignola somehow made seem effortless. And at the heart of the book was the incredibly appealing Hellboy himself, stone-fisted and shorn of horns, you somehow found empathy with this good-hearted demon-spawn.

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We’re delighted to be able to bring you Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell as a Motion Book on the Madefire app, and we believe it’s a medium entirely suited to the big red lug!

Liam

Dec 9

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