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Comic-Con 2013!

Posted by Allison ,
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What a whirlwind.

Read on for the full update on Madefire Comic-Con 2013! Imagine a gathering of Madefire enthusiasts and leading artists keenly discussing Motion Books with and amongst a flurry of Bronies (term for My Little Pony male fans), Game of Thrones devotees (fans at our booth for a George R.R. Martin and Gary Gianni signing), live press, dynamic publishers, and clever cosplayers (“Geek-speak” for Comic-Con participants who dress spectacularly in themed costume).

Now, picture a sleek, black Madefire booth decorated by a seven iPad x three iPad video wall of twenty-one iPads (Yes, twenty-one!). Our engineering team programmed these iPads to act as one giant screen, playing an epic video reel of Madefire Motion Book highlights on loop as the Madefire team showed off demos of its Motion Book collection to Comic-Con participants on the show floor.

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COSPLAYER FROM CINEMA MAKEUP SCHOOL EXTENDS WINGS AT MADEFIRE

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GEORGE R.R. MARTIN SIGNS WITH GARY GIANNI AT MADEFIRE BOOTH

Okay, time for the report!

Let’s start at the beginning.

Just days before Comic-Con, we made big announcements regarding new third-party publisher partnerships. Madefire is proud to have announced partnerships with IDW, Top Cow, Boom! Studios, and ITV Studios America. The week of Comic-Con, Madefire kept the ball rolling, releasing an original, digital-first series The Trouble with Katie Rogers: Preview and first two episodes from ITV Studios America by Des Taylor. Madefire also released Treatment Detroit: Episode 1 by Dave Gibbons and Sherlock Holmes: The Greek Interpreter by Bill Sienkiewicz and Liam Sharp. We look forward to bringing the Madefire experience to such popular titles as Star Trek, My Little Pony, and Transformers from IDW, The Darkness from Top Cow, and Next Testament and 2 Guns from Boom! Studios.

On Thursday, Ben Wolstenholme, Dave Gibbons, and Liam Sharp spoke to a full room at deviantART’s “How-To: Motion Books” Panel. (By the way, deviantART had an awesome Artist’s Alley at their booth several steps away from us.) The Motion Book panel must have sparked quite some interest, because a number of aspiring and intrigued creators scouted out the Madefire booth in following days with high praise of what they had learned in the panel and a number of inquiries regarding tool sign-up and details.

MADEFIRE ARTISTS SMILE IN FRONT OF IPAD DISPLAY

MADEFIRE ARTISTS SMILE IN FRONT OF IPAD DISPLAY

Participants, creators, and readers joined the Madefire team in brandishing black and red Madefire pins on their Comic-Con lanyards. Dave Gibbons, Bill Sienkiewicz, Liam Sharp, Des Taylor, Gary Gianni, and Ben Wolstenholme participated in signings at the Madefire booth throughout the weekend, and everyone on the team had tons of fun hanging out with fans at the Madefire booth! Participants at Comic-Con were able to check out current Madefire store offerings, recent releases, and early previews of several upcoming Madefire store releases, including Star Trek and My Little Pony:

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SKYE POINTS OUT NEW MADEFIRE MOTION BOOKS

ALLISON DEMOS THE MADEFIRE APP

ALLISON DEMOS THE MADEFIRE APP

Ladies and Bronies alike read My Little Pony, wide-eyed, smiling, and quick to point out their favorite ponies. (Fun fact from a new five-year-old friend: “The nicer the ponies, the prettier they are! Duh!” Good to know!)

Trekkies and Transformers fanatics gave their stamp of approval.

Game of Thrones groupies were excited to learn about us while they waited in line for a George R.R. Martin signature on their gorgeous Gary Gianni-illustrated calendar.

Des Taylor wooed the crowds with demonstrations of his Motion Book featuring the fashionable heroine Katie Rogers, a NYC publicist. Katie Rogers possesses gumption, class, and sex appeal to the max. (I think we know who to dress up as next year! 😉 Cosplay, anyone?!).

Happily, the highly anticipated Sherlock Holmes: The Greek Interpreter art did not disappoint: fans admired each tap point, portrait, and page on the new release, as well as on the most recent Mono.

Interestingly, Madefire released Treatment Detroit: Episode 1 a day before the “real” city of Detroit declared bankruptcy. Apropos? Freaky timing? In my opinion, all part of the Comic-Con mystery and magic!

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BEN AND MADEFIRE FANS IN COSTUME STRIKE A POSE

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BEN SHOWS HIS PANO PRINT TO A FAN

Now, if you follow our blog regularly, you may remember my previous post about the latest Mono episode, which released the week before Comic-Con. We promised the exhibition of a 3D Mono print—and prominently on our Comic-Con booth counter, he stood. We had two framed 3D prints with us: one painted dark and the other white… He looked awesome.

Several Comic-Con participants were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see Ben Wolstenholme’s six-foot-long panorama, or “pano,” print from Mono: Episode 4! (The print was stored behind the booth for most of the weekend, with the intention of keeping it safe from spills and damage; however, it was frequently unfurled for those interested.) Admirers of the Mono print, demo, and pano “oohed” and “ahh’d” on the show floor as members of the Madefire team explained how the Madefire Motion Book Tool capably converts such a 2D print into a 3D effect masterpiece pano.

At 5 PM PST Sunday, Comic-Con ended, and we closed up our booth… until next time.

We were sad to leave, but happy to have enjoyed such an exciting and productive week at the Con!

-Allison

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New Installment of MONO, Episode 4

Posted by Allison ,
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There is a new MONO release out this week!

Download and read MONO, Episode 4 on iOS and on the web at deviantART!

In this latest episode of MONO from artist Ben Wolstenholme and writer Liam Sharp, we meet Nazi General Heinrich Eberbach, a brutish character. General Eberbach prides himself on being warrior-born, claiming to have Thor’s blood in his veins, and boasts his forces have resisted and repelled the Allies assault on Caen. He is formidable and terrifying.

Yet, then he sits to enjoy a meal in a vast, ornate room filled with artifacts and war spoils alongside a beautiful blonde French dinner guest. General Eberbach posits a noteworthy match for half-man, half-ape Mono—and at moments, he possesses an eerie sense of calm.

The General and his guest eat veal; hold hands; drink wine. I watch with baited breath. It feels like the calm before the storm. General Eberbach instructs his lovely companion that they should not begrudge themselves “one good meal” at her concern over his soldiers’ wartime hardships. After all: “We’ll all be gone from here soon enough.”

Are Liam and Ben foreshadowing something?!?! This episode is intricate in design and foreboding in plot. The line art and coloring, by Fin Cramb, are gorgeous and gripping. The tension builds, and we are left with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger.

David Gillette from ComicBooked.com reviewed an advanced preview, rating this installment a perfect 5 out of 5, and commending the MONO creators on the episode’s “brilliant illustration, impeccable writing, and the all important motion book tool.” David notes a visual element and motion feature that makes this issue particularly special: a “panoramic panel that rotates around a scene and puts the reader in the middle of the story.” I wholeheartedly agree and believe you will feel the same! In the panorama, I cannot help but admire the opulent war spoils, guard dogs, and trophies enveloping General Eberbach and his company at the dinner table in his sumptuous, dark room. I could stay on this panel for days, if not for my dying need to tap to the next awe-inspiring sequence.

David praises this series as “a perfect balance between elegant storytelling, edge-of-your-seat action, and stunning visuals. Wolstenholme and Sharp make a perfect creative team for telling a top-notch thriller that’s refined pulp.”

So, what will hold us until we get our next thrilling taste of MONO action? Simon Jones from SR Partners has made this awesome 3D model of Mono that we hope to display at San Diego Comic-Con next week!

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Mono rough paintover

The Madefire team is ecstatic for Comic-Con! Bill Sienkiewicz, Des Taylor, and Dave Gibbons, as well as Madefire’s MONO creators Liam and Ben, are among the incredible artists that we expect to be signing at our booth (#4902 and #4904). Be sure to check out Ben, Liam, and Dave speaking at a panel with deviantART on “How-To: Motion Books” at 12:15-1:15 PM on Thursday and Bill and Liam speaking with Adobe on “Adobe Photoshop and Artists” at 3:00-4:00 PM on Thursday. Stay tuned for exciting announcements coming soon. The countdown to Comic-Con has begun!

-Allison

June Story Night: Storytelling by the Light of an LED

Posted by Allison ,
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The Madefire Team celebrated its quarterly Story Night last Thursday with a buzzing crowd of old and new friends from the creative community, including legendary writer/artist, Bill Sienkiewicz. Bill is famous for working on Elektra Assassin with Frank Miller and his own epic Stray Toasters, among many others. He is now co-producing a Sherlock Holmes Motion Book with Madefire Co-Founder and fellow creator, Liam Sharp.

As the summer marketing intern for Madefire, and hence Story Night Newbie, I feel honored to present my noob opinion and first impression of this fine tradition…

Spectacular!

Surrounded by amazing artwork, good company, and great conversation, not to mention a plethora of tasty Rotten City Pizza and satisfying libations, I could not have enjoyed a better or more impressive introduction to Madefire’s Story Night tradition.

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I was blown away by the quantity and quality of the Sherlock, Captain Stone, and Mono art, illustrated by Bill, Liam, and Madefire co-founder and CEO Ben Wolstenholme, respectively. These were prominently exhibited across the wall of the Madefire Studio to evoke the ambiance of a traditional art studio.

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I was moved by the candor and spirit in Ben’s speech recalling the progress that Madefire has made in the year since the iOS app launch and previewing the bright future that he envisions and anticipates for Madefire, fans, and the community (follow @Madefire on Twitter to catch wind of the exhilarating announcements in store for fans during the week of the San Diego Comic Con!).

And I was amazed by the wisdom and camaraderie shared with us by Bill in a dually entertaining and informative Q&A session, which was masterfully and thoughtfully conducted by Liam.

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Bill shared priceless anecdotes from his childhood, time in New York, work on Elektra Assassin, and more recently, experience working in the Madefire Studio with Ben and Liam. He shared the secret to his sources of artistic inspiration: citing an amalgamation of life experiences, viewing art, trips to museums, and even examining children’s books. (Evidently, a great source of abstract and crazy stimuli!) Yet, he humbly and generously suggested that we are all artists, from photographers and musicians, to engineers and those who “create music with numbers.” Bill understands the connection between art, life, and technology as only a true artist could. There is no question that Bill’s insight and wit lingered in the air long after the Q&A formally ended, sparking friendly and lively exchanges amongst the great group of Story Night attendees.

Below are some of my favorite highlights from the Q&A!

I like the quote below, because it exemplifies Bill’s unique and exceptional talent. The striking anecdote he tells hearkens time spent working on Elektra Assassin.

The question was posed from a member of the audience: “Was there pressure?”

Bill: “There was no pressure. Any pressure came from trying to define [my work]. I realized that it was impossible to define. It was literally “Oh, today I’m going to sew a panel together.” [Elektra is] going to go crazy, and I am actually going to cut the pieces up, and then pull the needle and thread and make it like somebody is coming apart at the seams.”

Um…COOL. 

Bill pulls and weaves together characters, music, history, theater, and comics with expert sophistication and openness to create eloquent art across mediums. He gets it.

Below is an excerpt of another of my favorite answers to a question asked by Liam.

Liam: “The great thing about any industry is that you can keep learning forever, and we’re all learning off each other. Ben and I have learned a ton off of Bill in the past couple weeks. Much of it has been about using ink as a paint—so it is about tonality, the balance of blacks and negative space, and creating midi. Bill is a real master at that.”

Bill: “Thank you. Again, it has been just wonderful—a wonderful experience. One of the things that I think of as art—everybody says that “all art aspires to music,” and I think there is often a truth to that…

“I have found that with music, jazz, and art, there is a rhythm, a movement, and a beauty to everything that is not just about the physical representation of drawing. To me, you can do something that is absolutely academically spot-on, and there are [a number] of people who, actually, have the chops technically. One of the things that thrills me about doing comics is that comics are a medium for storytelling, emotion, and connecting people with people. To me, I think it almost is theater. It is a mix of film: it has scrims; you can have aspects of it that move in and out; and there are interpositions of what is going on. [For example,] when there are two of the panels that slow things down and speed things up, [they help to] give you the interior monologue. The idea of the capabilities of what is possible in a printed medium—it is opening up right now to a new platform for that. [Then consider] the idea of the musical aspect and everything aspires to music.

“You can take something that is very technically correct. If someone is yelling, you can draw a correct version of that from a photograph. But, if you draw it with their mouth just completely exaggerated—it will feel honest. It can actually be academically incorrect, but emotionally right. And that is one of the things that I find is really wonderful about comics as a medium, and also, about the potential of what is possible.

“Ultimately, if anything, we are a culture—a species—that is hard-wired to make stories. We need to make sense of things. [For example, imagine that a] cat is on a table [and the] cat is on the floor. It’s like, “did the cat jump on the table? Or did he jump down?” We need to put things in that kind of order. It is just the way we are… from the years of being in complete blackness, you know—storytelling by the campfire. Except now it is storytelling by the light of an LED.”

What a unique pleasure to listen to a master discuss his craft, while looking across the faces of artists, storytellers, and mathematical musicians, all brought together and lit brilliantly by the glowing iPads side-by-side at Madefire.

Certainly, Story Night was an evening to remember—I cannot wait for the next one!

I am eager to become a regular member in this incomparable tradition!

-Allison

PEN, INK, AND A FEW CHOICE WORDS

Posted by Graves ,
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I’ve been knocking around comics almost too long – at least that’s how it feels sometimes, looking back at the comics I grew up reading, how they changed through my teens, my burgeoning career, through the nineties and noughties, to today. When I was a boy there really was an innocence we’ll never recapture. Our eyes and minds were open to a bright and glittering future. We weren’t as cynical, or as knowing. We believed a man could fly – we didn’t question the science. We reached for the stars, watched with childlike wonder the launch of rockets and shuttles. We imagined hoverboards, gleaming silver catsuits, a utopian world peace seemed to be a global goal.

As I said – they were more innocent times.

The nineteen eighties put a stop to that. Alan Moore and Frank Miller started a revolution in the writing that changed comics forever. With art from Bill Sienkiewicz, Dave Gibbons, and Miller penning much of his own work, a new deconstructive cynicism entered the mix, and questioned everything from the ground up – the science, the morality, the medium itself. They took away the innocence and replaced it with questioning introspection, irony and a dark, lyrical wit.

Comics grew-up.

The nineties brought that cynicism into the very core of the business, and comics briefly became the best investment you could make – after gold and diamonds. They sold in millions, fuelled by consumerist greed. People who never read a comic stockpiled hundreds of copies of shiny new issue ones, with ten variant covers, believing they would be worth a fortune in the future. A false economy flourished and died, and everybody became consumed with a tantalizing fast-track to wealth. Comics were about the idea, the creator-owned concept that would make it to the big screen and a billion kids drinks containers.

When that bubble burst it took a decade for the industry to dust itself off, wipe away bitter tears, rise above the resentment of folly, and get on with the job at hand. You see, we had largely forgotten what this was all about – telling stories.

Captain Stone is Missing… is a love letter written and created to capture all the elements of four decades of comics. It’s preposterous, cynical, knowing, innovative, and also – I hope –a little bit innocent. If anything it reconstructs what was previously deconstructed. It aims to rebuild a hopelessly outmoded, lost and damaged handful of individuals without losing the wonder of comic books.

Big dreams, maybe! But then – comics were always the place where dreams could be realized in pen, ink and a few choice words.

Charlie and Cap_Small

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