Britain’s best known modern comic book writer Alan Moore is leading a research and development project, Electricomics, to create an open source app enabling digital comics to be made by anyone, a digital comics project that will include the publication of a new anthology that will feature stories from Peter Hogan, Garth Ennis and Leah Moore and John Reppion.
Only one artist – World War X’s Peter Snejbjerg, who will work on Garth Ennis World War One-set tale – has yet been attached to the anthology project, but the Electricomics web site reveals that creators Nicola Scott, Colleen Doran, Paul Davidson, colourist Jose Villarrubia and letterers Simon Bowland and Todd Klein are also on board. The app will be built by Ocasta Studios.
Already known for revolutionising superhero comic storytelling in the 1980s with projects such as Swamp Thing, Watchmen and Marvelman, and for his ground-breaking independent comic stories such as From Hell and the sadly cut short comic Big Numbers, Alan is pushing boundaries again with Electricomics – an app that is both a comic book and an easy-to-use open source toolkit.
The project name came to Alan while he was working with director Mitch Jenkins on The Show, an eerie film and TV concept which seemed to have a life of its own, he imagined the children in the background of a scene reading comics on transparent flexible scrolls called Spindles. The comics, Alan idly supposed, would be Electricomics, and would be yet another facet of the multi-nuanced and multimedia world of The Show. That germ of an idea quietly gestated among Alan’s many other ideas, and has, after a lot of work, finally taken shape enough to go live.
As a free open source project, the Electricomics team say the app has wide potential, not just for industry professionals, but also businesses, arts organisations and of course, comic fans and creators everywhere.
“Personally, I can’t wait,” says Northampton-based Alan. “With Electricomics, we are hoping to address the possibilities of comic strips in this exciting new medium, in a way that they have never been addressed before.
“Rather than simply transferring comic narrative from the page to the screen, we intend to craft stories expressly devised to test the storytelling limits of this unprecedented technology,” he says, reflecting the aims of other digital publishers such as Madefire. “To this end we are assembling teams of the most cutting edge creators in the industry and then allowing them input into the technical processes in order to create a new capacity for telling comic book stories.
“It will then be made freely available to all of the exciting emergent talent that is no doubt out there, just waiting to be given access to the technical toolkit that will enable them to create the comics of the future.”
The Electricomics project will include a 32-page showcase with four very different original titles:
- Big Nemo – set in the 1930s, Alan Moore revisits Winsor McCay’s most popular hero
- Cabaret Amygdala – modernist horror from Terra Obscura writer Peter Hogan
- Red Horse – on the anniversary of the beginning of World War One, Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys) and Danish artist Peter Snejbjerg (World War X) take us back to the trenches
- Sway – a slick new time travel science fiction story from Leah Moore and John Reppion, the writing team on Sherlock Holmes – The Liverpool Demon and whose credits also include work for 2000AD)
Electricomics will be self published by Moore and long time collaborator Mitch Jenkins as Orphans of the Storm, and funded by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. As a publicly funded research and development project, Electricomics will be free to explore the possibilities of the comic medium, without the constraints of the industry.
The app will be built by Ocasta Studios, under the guidance of Ed Moore (no relation). Ocasta create apps for the likes of Virgin Media, Vodafone, Harveys and The Register. They are excited to be making their first foray into the world of comics.
The research team will be led by Dr Alison Gazzard, who has published widely on space, time and play in interactive media, and is a Lecturer in Media Arts at the London Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education. Joining her, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey is a pioneer in the field of experimental digital comics and senior lecturer at The University of Hertfordshire.
Moore’s daughter Leah will edit the project, having created the 150 page digital comic The Thrill Electric for C4 Education in 2011.
The Digital R&D fund for the Arts is a £7 million fund to support collaboration between organisations with arts projects, technology providers, and researchers. It is a partnership between Arts Council England, Arts and Humanities Research Council and Nesta and seeks to develop projects that use digital technology to enhance audience reach and/or develop new business models for the arts sector.
• For more information visit www.electricomics.net
• Follow Electricomics on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Electricomics
• Follow Electricomics on twitter.com/electricomics