Madefire Press


In the Rough: Ben Wolstenholme’s “Mono, Ep. 2”

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What happens when two childhood friends, both artists in their own right (one a trained designer, the other an established comic book creator) form their own digital comic book publishing company? A new creator is born. 

Read what renowned creator Liam Sharp (also founder and Chief Creative Officer at Madefire) has to say about his fellow creator and longtime friend, Ben Wolstenholme (also a Madefire founder), who launched his first title “Mono” on the Madefire App for iPad in June 2012. Episode 2 of Mono hits iPads 1, 2 and 3 soon!


Mono Episode 2 Line Art by Ben Wolstenholme

(Above: line art from Mono episode 2)


Liam Sharp on fellow creator Ben Wolstenholme:

“Ben and I go back a long way, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit nervous about his contribution to the Madefire content before launch. I knew he was an extremely accomplished artist, not to mention designer, but translating that to sequential storytelling–and more than that: a whole new medium!–seemed to be an impossibly tall order.

I needn’t have worried.

Ben’s artistic trajectory on Mono has literally blown me away. Every new page he shows me sucks me in, and it’s hard to believe this is a guy who has never been published before as an illustrator. His experience as a storyteller in film and other mediums infuses the work, and naturally informs the rhythm of the pages, the staging of the scenes. But it’s more than that–this is fresh. It merges Gary Gianni’s classical illustration techniques with Frank Miller-esque dynamism, Sienkiewicz-like boldness and characterization. The attention to detail is phenomenal. The sense of period is spot-on.

Mostly, though, I love the energy he brings to the story. It’s a fully-realised environment, and no effort is spared in making the art the best it can be.”


(Below: finished artwork from Mono episode 2)

Finished Art from Mono Episode 2 by Ben Wolstenholme

In the Rough: Liam Sharp’s “Captain Stone is Missing….” Chapter 2

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Madefire founder, CCO and creator Liam Sharp gives us an inside look into the development of his next digital comic release: Captain Stone is Missing….. Chapter 2–starting with this sketch of a swingin’ 60s party.


Here’s the finished, unlettered artwork, with an additional detail panel below.


Another finished piece–the timing of which just happened to coincide with the London 2012 Olympics.

Stay tuned for the completed Chapter 2 of Liam’s Motion Book–hitting iPads soon!

Madefire Interviews Composer
Ali Powers

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Music makes *everything* better. And that’s especially true when it comes to Madefire’s Motion Books. Music and sound are a big part of what makes our reading experience unique and engaging. So for this blog post we interviewed multi-talented singer songwriter, composer, actor, artist and writer Ali Powers.

MF: You’re collaborating with Madefire right now—tell us what you’re doing and how you got involved.

AP: I’m currently scoring Madefire’s new title “The Engine.” It’s a story about a machine-man, written in a parallel present where communism has survived in Russia, and produced not only a rival to the iPad, but a man-shaped machine that assists the miners in extracting ore. He ends up being the hero of the piece.

As to how I got involved: I’ve known Madefire founder Liam Sharp and his wife—creator Christina McCormack—for many years. So a lucky break really. Right place, right time, clear week!

MF:  What’s the most challenging part of creating theme music?

AP: It’s instinctual. So the hard part is remaining keyed-in. If I’m unclear, things come out more like a nerd asking the prom queen for a dance: instead of hitting the nail on the head, it’s a very sore thumb.

There are rules, but I don’t like rules. The rule is, people expect a certain mood from a specific scene. I like to play with where that can take me.

It’s interesting to see how a director or editor responds to my work, as it’s not always how I respond. So probably context, and keeping it without losing a genuine thread of myself.

MF: You’re a singer songwriter, composer, actor, artist and writer—from where do you draw inspiration?

AP: It’s odd, I used to feel the work was creating me in a way! Music attracts you to people, and vice versa, so I’ve had an odd journey. Mainly I just try to emote the feeling I’m having at that time. I used to have muses that I’d write to, now I’m just doing it for me.

I used to believe in fate, and destiny, now I believe in luck and opportunity.

As for acting, I like to make people laugh, so a lot of my performance tend to comedy.

And as for being a writer, I like to write universes where each part is mapped out in my head before pen meets paper. So I typically procrastinate, and have several projects I’m sitting on. Like most writers I know…


MF: You have an extremely eclectic approach to music, and an astonishing range—from soundtracks, to whimsy, to hard-core punk, rock, electronica, ballads… Which one most represents the real Ali Powers?

AP: The one I’m probably gonna do under a pseudonym, and not tell anyone about!

Honestly? They all represent the real me. My personality is how I feel and how I react, given what caused me to write. If I react in art, or music, then the end result can be fathomed. I think mostly the rest of the time, they bounce around in my brain like a fly against a window, waiting to pick up enough charge.

I wish I could tell you!


MF: You’ve accomplished a lot, but surely there is more you want to do—what is your dream project?

AP: Life! (It’s true. But it’d be a really f**king big list otherwise!)

Ali Powers lives in Derby, UK and has worked with filmmakers, artists, writers and musicians on a wide variety of projects. He currently performs both with alt garage rock band Hot Japanese Girl and solo with his melancholic ballads and humorous songs.

Madefire’s Motion Book “The Engine,” by Jimmy Broxton and Guy Adams, hits iPads everywhere in August.

SDCC 2012 Highlights

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Coming back from Comic-Con sort of feels like the day after Christmas. The most awesome, inspiring, and exhausting Christmas ever. Times 10.

We’re back at it now, furiously at work on our next title releases and other exciting things we can’t quite tell you about yet. But before our memories of San Diego Comic-Con fade and we are totally consumed by thoughts of NY Comic-Con (this October–see you there!), we wanted to share our take on SDCC and what it meant for Madefire. Here’s what our engineering team, and founders Ben Wolstenholme and Liam Sharp had to say. For more photos of the event, check out Madefire’s Facebook page.


Madefire founder Ben Wolstenholme: what was your reaction to the Con?

I was really pleased to see that the industry is looking to take on digital formats as a way forward, but also surprised by the limited digital/tablet presence at the Con, as well as by the lack of original content. I think even as digital starts to come about though, we all need to be mindful that it’s not just technology–it’s about getting behind the creators and helping them tell their stories in new ways.

There was just this consistent “Wow!” reaction from people–everyone loved the panorama. And so many people said it all makes sense: the digital/iPad format, the 10-15 minute content format. We were so pleased–and humbled–to hear that people think we’re head and shoulders above everyone else.

For me, some of the most exciting moments of the Con had to do with the people we interacted with while we were there. I saw Dave Gibbons showing the panorama effect in the “Mono” title I created, and the people watching didn’t know who he was. Seeing their faces once they realized… priceless. Another day, a few of the team we know from Developer Relations at Apple came by the stand, which we were really pleased about. And Angelo Sotira, one of the founders of deviantArt–which represents the largest creator community–also came ‘round, saying he’d heard a lot about us, and we had a great conversation about Madefire’s “creators-first” philosophy and empowering creators to get their work out.


Madefire engineering team: what was your SDCC 2012 experience?

Ross: If people see the Madefire App they love it. Every single person did a jaw drop when I got to the panorama part of the app, and would walk away saying “Wow.” I’d demo the app for someone and 20 minutes later they’d bring back a friend or two and have me show the app again. And on the creator side of things: everybody wants to create for it.

The app and Motion Book Tool were the focus, but I think our booth–with the iPad wall we built–made a big difference too (visit Madefire’s Engineering Blog for details about how we pulled it off).

Dan: There were so many creators interested in finding out how they could publish a Motion Book using the Madefire platform. They immediately saw that what we’ve created goes beyond the printed page and that it could help them expand their story telling. With consumers, they were blown away by Madefire. People would tell their friends to come and check out the booth and reader. But sometimes we still had to really work to make sure that the message of what Madefire is doing got across. Some people just didn’t quite get why we were creating Motion Books. They expected it to be another pan-and-scan system like Comixology.

Matthew: It was a good feeling to be able to show the app to people who had never heard of Madefire and see their eyes light up with amazement as they said things like “Whaaaa..,” “No way!” and “Ahh, that’s cool!”

Also, and I know this has nothing to do with Madefire, but: seeing Chef Darth Vader was a hoot :)


Madefire founder Liam Sharp: what about SDCC 2012 stands out in your mind?

On Friday the 13th of the San Diego Comic Convention, Madefire flew in the face of popular superstition to throw a launch party–an event designed to recognize the hard work of the teams involved, welcome new friends, and honor our esteemed competitors (Operation Ajax, Bottom of the Ninth) pushing at the boundaries of this new medium.

And what an amazing, emotional night it proved to be.

Amongst the guests were our creative advisors and contributing legends-of-the-industry: Dave Gibbons and Bill Sienkiewicz. Other industry creators were special guests of the Con, contributors and friends of Madefire: Gary Gianni and mighty Joe Jusko. It was noted that when Joe and another physical giant of comics (also our guest) Tim Bradstreet embraced it was like “two continents colliding.” Tim came with his partner at Raw studios, noted Hollywood actor Thomas Jane.

Ben (Wolstenholme) of the founding triumvirate gave a heartfelt speech, that was received with the kind of rapturous response usually reserved for the late Steve Jobs. Touching and open, it told our preposterous journey–how we conceived and created Madefire. How it was founded, and how it has–against all odds–grown. He was generous and effusive in his thanks and admiration for all who who helped bring about what–in retrospect–seems the impossible: Eugene’s amazing tech team (the iPad wall they built, the app, the tool, etc.); Graves “the glue of Madefire” Englund. Jim “party animal” Booker, who built our stand and became an over-night geek. Kevin, Joe, Kinman, Ivey, Sky… I’m sure I’m missing people, but they know who they are, and they know how much we appreciate them.

The evening was topped off with a smaller gathering after the party was over–a recap around the table at Bice, the restaurant that provided a perfect location, and great wine and food. We all realized it was a night we needed to store and remember. They don’t come around often, nights like these.


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