Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Various web sites, including IT Pro, are reporting rumours that the cash rich Mac makers may soon be launching a 'tablet' computer, prompted by a report in the Financial Times suggested the tablet computer would tie in with plans to sell albums, as part of a new deal with record labels. (Apple has partnered with EMI, Warner Music, Sony and Universal Music on a new project, codenamed 'Cocktail', to develop a new digital album format embedding interactive extras with the music, which would include videos, photos, lyrics and songs not otherwise available).
The device itself would have a 10-inch screen, the anonymous source said, and would likely connect to the internet in the same way the iPod Touch does, the FT suggested.
Saturday, 25 July 2009
Legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, partnered with Universal Uclick, has announced an all-new version of one of his most sizzling creations, sexy comic book heroine, Stripperella.
The scantily-clad adventurer stars in an original four-volume comic book series written by Lee with art by Anthony Winn is available now as a direct-to-iPhone release on Apple's App Store.
Exotica Jones, the new incarnation of the motorcycle-riding exotic dancer who fights crime as Stripperella, makes her eye-popping debut in this all-new made-for-mobile comic book series.
"Some people think Stripperella is merely a far-out fantasy featuring a torrid, whistle-bait pin-up," said Lee. "But thoughtful readers look beneath Stripperella's frivolous façade and recognize a scholarly, psychological analysis of today's complex male/female relationships with cogent commentary within the sophisticated subtext. Congratulations to Universal Uclick and POW! for Stripperella, the perfect cerebral companion for the thinking man."
"Stripperella is an eye-catching super heroine, and comic fans will appreciate that Stan Lee, master comics craftsman that he is, has injected this series with a madcap spirit that makes it a thoroughly entertaining read," said Universal Uclick President and Editor Lee Salem. "This mature-audiences series - available exclusively in the App Store - is uncommonly, unabashedly, undeniably fun. It's exactly the kind of all-out entertainment fans have come to expect from the most well-known innovator in comics."
Longtime fans of the cheeky heroine will note that POW! Entertainment has updated the character's original design from the adult-oriented cartoon series that marked Stripperella's worldwide cable television debut in 2003. But while she sports a new look, iPhone and iPod Touch users can rest assured that the famous curves, tongue-in-cheek humour and "bombshell" status that made Stripperella stand out from the pack remain perfectly intact.
"We started by repurposing print comics for the iPhone. It has always been our intention to bring original content, created exclusively for mobile consumption, to the marketplace," explains Salem.
• To get Stripperella and other favorite comic books, graphic novels, webcomics and manga for the iPhone and iPod touch go to www.StripperellaApp.com
Friday, 24 July 2009
The first issue of The Dark will be released in August as a digital comic book via iTunes, with three more issues in the pipeline. A graphic novel is planned for later in the year.
With nods toward the novels of authors such as Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, and films such as The Matrix, The Dark is the story of Daniel Abbot, a brilliant young scientist on the fringes of the establishment and the creator of Memetech - a technology that encodes information and memories into a liquid form, allowing anyone to “drink” the information. Terrified that his invention will be used for military purposes he decides to destroy his research, but not before he takes one last trip... with disastrous results.
Two years on, and the Memetech genie is out of the bottle. Abbot, having perfected his own version of the technology, fights a one-man war against the spread of his own invention and the collapse of our information culture in the guise of “The Dark”. Aided by an artificial intelligence nicknamed Howard Hughes, Abbott creates “The Baffler” – a coat made of Memetech that gives his the edge over his enemies. Capable of injecting information directly into this brain and firing Memetech flechettes to hit others with bursts of pure information, The Baffler is both weapon and disguise in Daniel Abbot's war against his own creation.
When The Dark uncovers a plot to set off Memetech bombs across the whole of the city Dante, filling the air with liquid information and creating a new society of his enemy's devising, he's plunged into a desperate race against time. But, not everything is what is seems. Who is the new and mysterious enemy who seems to know The Dark's every move? How did the Memetech, thought destroyed, reappear? Why can't Daniel wake his wife and son? And why is everyone in Dante named after an English poet?
Markosia kindly sent us an advance copy of the first issue and we're pleased to report it's some of Chris Lynch's best work to date, complemented by some suitably moody art from Lundeen. The story is complex but well realized, with plenty to get you thinking and wondering just what will happen next.
"I've been a big fan of Chris Lynch for a while now," says publisher Harry Markos on securing the property for Markosia, "and asked him to pitch a couple of new projects that we could look at for the digital market, with a view to releasing it as a graphic novel later.
"He's come up trumps with The Dark. Coupled with Rick’s fantastically atmospheric art, Chris’s story takes you to a very believable but disturbing world, not unlike the one we are living in at the moment! I am confident that we have a hit in the making."
• There's a free 8-page preview at www.thedarkcomicbook.com
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
After becoming the world's first comic publisher on the Nintendo DSi and having their Droid Comic Viewer rise to the top (most-used) comic viewer slot on the Google Android platform, Robot Comics say conquering the Kindle seemed the next natural step!
"All of our Kindle releases strive to have the best clarity of image and readability of text possible - two hurdles that have long plagued Kindle and Kindle 2 users when it comes to comics," says Dave Baxter, Deputy Director of Robot Comics. "This was particularly tricky because we sought hard-to-find or out-of-print comics to fill our initial Kindle library - comics that were hand-lettered, and not at all created with digital adaptation or multi-format presentation in mind.
"Because the reading experience on a Kindle is the closest that any mobile user can get to reading a printed book or comic, we wanted to offer readers something truly special," he continues. "Not just a digital version of what they could already read in print, but instead a number of titles that were made for print but no longer readily available in printed form."
The company's first Kindle comic, now available for purchase, is The Desert Peach #1 by 80's comix writer/artist Donna Barr. Originally published in 1989, now long since out of print, it introduces readers to Oberst Pfirsich Rommel, the fictional gay younger brother of Eriwin Rommel - The Desert Fox! Along the way we also meet Pfirsich's aide, Udo; the entire motley crew of the Halftrack 469th Support and Grave-Digging Battalion, and readers are ushered into the exotic and harsh climate of 1940's North Africa. It's history and humor with not just a dash of true-to-life dramatics.
Extras include a new Author Introduction to the series by Barr, a new "Der Kauz" Letters Page with never-before-published letters, and a preview for The Desert Peach #2.
Throughout its 20 years of publication, The Desert Peach has won the Inkpot Award, the Xeric Grant, and the Washington Press Association Award for Humor. Now Robot Comics is proud to re-introduce modern readers to this lost gem of 1980's and 90's comix history.
In addition to this first release, Kindle users can also download free custom-made Desert Peach screensavers for their Kindle at the Robot Comics website.
Future Kindle releases from Robot Comics will include the 900-page, out-of-print fantasy/horror epic ArmageddonQuest by Ronald Russell Roach - a work that took the artist 10 years to complete - and the indepedently produced first work of writer/artist Steven Walters, titled Suburban Folklore.
Currently, Robot Comics is only formatting comics for the Kinde 2 device. If readers would like to see comics for their Kindle 1 or Kindle DX, they can email us with their rabid demands at firstname.lastname@example.org
• For more information visit www.robotcomics.net
Digitally produced using some of the latest motion graphic technology, Time Jumper combines the traditional print look and feel of a comic book with multimedia elements including edgy visuals, effects, music, voice-overs and fast-paced storyboards, all with the intent of making it perfect to watch on the widescreen of an iPod touch or iPhone.
In the story, 20-year-old college student Terry Dixon has the most unique mobile device on Earth -- the Articulus, a time travel device developed by Terry's genius father, Arthur Dixon. To prevent the Articulus from falling into the wrong hands, Arthur coded it to work only with his DNA. After a laboratory experiment claims Arthur's life, Terry and his older brother Sam become the only people capable of using it. Recruited into the secret crime fighting organization H.U.N.T. (Heroes United, Noble and True) after the mysterious disappearance of golden boy Sam, Terry becomes a reluctant hero living in his brother's shadow. As he struggles to fill his new role, unnatural shifts in the course of history send Terry hurtling through time to capture Charity Vyle, the diabolical leader of criminal cartel C.U.L.T. (Council of Unstoppable, Lethal Terrorists). But something more than just Terry's molecules are being reconfigured as he leaps across time, and it threatens to corrupt everything he understands about who he is, and whether the world is actually worth saving after all.
Voice talents include Stan Lee himself, playing the voice of Lee Excelsior, CEO of H.U.N.T. Headquarters, and actress Natasha Henstridge (Species, Eli Stone) who plays the voice of Charity Vyle, the evil, smart and seductive female villain.
Time Jumper will be available exclusively from Apple's iTunes Store from Friday 24th July. Each 5-8 minute digital episode will retail for 99 cents; other formats to be utilized over the next two years for the series include online, mobile, DVD and publishing.
• More info: http://huntheadquarters.com/
Monday, 20 July 2009
The company is apparently looking to complete the MVNO deal in time to have Kindle working on a W-CDMA-based cellular network in time for the build-up to Christmas.
The European Kindle device will follow the US model of being able to download publications via the PC and Wi-Fi, but Amazon also wants the Kindle to have 3G W-CDMA connectivity - as is the case in the US except the device has been designed to use CDMA technology.
The company has apparently so far been unable to find a UK operator prepared to host the Kindle's unique Whispernet connections, a data-only service which supports the download of electronic magazines - which could include comics - and books to the Kindle device in a manner that is transparent to the user.
It seems unlikely that Vodafone - which has launched its own version of the Kindle in Germany - or Orange will be Amazon's UK partner (the latter network working on an ebook in its domestic French market).
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Robot Comics, who became the world's first comic publisher on the Nintendo DSi the other week, has released the latest version (v1.3.1) of its Droid Comic Viewer (also known as ACV) - a free lightweight comic, manga and image viewer developed by Robot Comics for Google Android powered mobiles such as HTC G1, HTC Magic, HTC Dream and HTC Hero.
With the release of ACV v1.3.1, Robot Comics says the Droid Comic Viewer is now the most popular comic viewer on the Android marketplace: you can see the ACV in action by viewing the video above or here on YouTube.
The main features in ACV version 1.3.1 are:
• Opens CBZ/ZIP, CBR/RAR (beta), ACV, JPEG, PNG, BMP and GIF files
• Read comics from your SD card Left-to-right or right-to-left (manga reading) direction
• Use the touch screen and trackball to zoom, scroll and navigate 17 custom controls with 17 possible actions Various screen transition and image scaling modes Bookmark - continue reading your comic from where you left it
• Next and previous page cache: read comics without load interruptions
• Multi-language: English, German and Spanish Titles officially released by Robot Comics for the Droid Comic Viewer include Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now, the manga Ubunchu, Sergio Carrera's The Eternal City, and Alterna Comic's Jesus Hates Zombies, The Chair, Diary of a Black Widow, Confessions of a Peculiar Boy, Birth, Morbid Myths, Formera, and American Terror: Confessions of a Human Smart Bomb.
• For more information on the Droid Comic Viewer or to read the viewer's user manual and FAQ section, visit the Robot Comics web site: www.robotcomics.net/android-comic-viewer
Thursday, 9 July 2009
The move means Andrews McMeel Universal is now composed of two distinct but collaborative organizations: Universal Uclick and Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP), a leading publisher of humour, gift, general trade, cookbooks, and calendars with more than 300 new titles annually, including the two most expensive New York Times Best Sellers on record, The Complete Far Side and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Through Universal Uclick and AMP, Andrews McMeel Universal says it is positioned to offer unique access to multi-channel distribution for authors and artists, and to take advantage of rapidly developing opportunities in syndication and licensing, both in print and in the digital realm.
Lee Salem, Universal Press Syndicate president, has been named interim chief executive officer while a search for a permanent CEO of the new company is under way. Former GoComics CEO Douglas Edwards has resigned to pursue other opportunities.
Over the past 40 years, the Universal Press Syndicate has discovered and brought to global markets many of the most popular humor, games, and editorial features in newspapers. Universal Press is a unique success story in that it has been privately owned since it was formed in 1970 by business partners John McMeel and Jim Andrews.
The company provides editorial development, licensing and other distribution services to support major iconic brands including Doonesbury and Dear Abby. The Universal Press legacy includes several of the most significant comic strips and panels in the history of the form, including Bill Watterson's beloved Calvin and Hobbes and Gary Larson's revolutionary, often controversial classic The Far Side, as well as Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Cathy, and Ziggy.
Universal Press is widely recognized for its ability to identify and to promote new talent, most recently with critically acclaimed features such as Lio, winner of the 2009 Reuben Newspaper Comic Strip Award; Cul de Sac, 2009 Award nominee; and The Argyle Sweater, a single panel cartoon that has made a huge splash in newspapers across the country and on top-selling calendars and greeting cards after just one year in syndication.
"The tradition and reputation that have made Universal Press Syndicate the destination for top-notch creative talents are now joining forces with the technological expertise, versatility, and new media innovations of Uclick," said Andrews McMeel Universal founder, chairman, and president John McMeel. "This is a historic move that brings together two industry leading companies to create a dynamic new organization capable of supporting today's renowned creative talents and the superstars of tomorrow, propelling them to new levels of popularity and success, as well as looking to the future by creating new distribution channels and outlets for this beloved art form."
Created to explore opportunities in the emerging digital realm of the late 1990s, Uclick has found great success through its efforts to distribute comics, text features, and games on desktops, the Web, and mobile phones. It offers what's described as the largest collection of comics anywhere on the Web, the GoComics.com site from Uclick aggregates more than 200 traditional comic strip and cartoon features from multiple syndicates and self-syndicated artists, including webcomic features, all in a single robust and active online community.
The most recognized newspaper Web sites, the largest Web portals, and many national media sites rely on content and technology delivered by Uclick infrastructure.
Uclick is also the leading distributor of comics and game content on mobile phones, most recently creating more than 130 apps for iPhone and iPod Touch, covering a broad range of entertainment content, including comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels, webcomics, crossword puzzles, word games, and well-known books.
The merging of Universal Press Syndicate and Uclick into Universal Uclick creates a company that Andrews McMeel Universal is confident will drive content services in the 21st century.
"It's impossible to calculate the value of reputation and innovation in the fast-changing world of content distribution," said Andrews McMeel Universal executive vice president Hugh Andrews. "The infrastructure, planning, and flexibility we provide at Universal Uclick have earned us the reputation as a trusted partner, both to those who create or manage content and to the publishers and other destinations who need new and original creative content to serve their customers."
By providing easy access, simple integration, and delivery options for both single-use licensing and long-term serialized content, Universal Uclick is in position to lead the industry in innovation and forward-thinking options.
Concluded McMeel: "Our goal since we first opened our doors for business has always been to provide inventive opportunities for our remarkably gifted cartoonists, columnists, artists, and creators, and to produce the most addictive and engaging entertainment you'll find anywhere. Universal Uclick is an organization founded with the commitment to bring that talent to the largest audience possible, through every outlet available and through channels still undiscovered."
PSP comics will offered via the Playstation Store and, while no service has been announced for anywhere outside Japan just yet, games web site PushSquare suggests the upcoming Comic-Con - where several new digital initiatives are expected to be announced, including new GoComics projects - "would be the perfect venue for an announcement".
The Creators Syndicate - the independent Los Angeles-based syndicate representing over 200 of the most talented writers and artists in the world, including Robert Novak, Mike Luckovich, Bill O'Reilly, One Big Happy, BC, Wizard of Id, and Speed Bump - has announced a partnership with iVerse media that will allow complete collections of Creators comics to be featured on the iPhone and iPod touch.
"The best content on demand and on the go is what people want, and Creators and iVerse are perfectly partnered to provide it," commented Creators Syndicate's General Manager and Executive Vice President Jack Newcombe. "Creators' comics have been putting smiles on faces for decades. Now those laughs can be delivered to the palm of your hand -- not just to your doorstep."
The Syndicate has already developed new services on behalf of its artists that aim to make the most of the digital age, including its "Rev Up" service which enables web sites to publish comics in return for ad space.
Collections of Creators comics Heathcliff, B.C., Girls and Sports and Dog eat Doug are already available from Apple's App Store, with more collections set to follow.
"Comic strips are something I've always loved, and it's great to bring some of the best strips in the world to the iPhone," said iVerse Media CEO Michael Murphey. "Classics like Heathcliff and B.C. -- and new classics like Dog Eat Doug and Girls and Sports -- are perfect for the device, and I think people are really going to like being able to get collections of the strips to read anytime, anywhere."
"This is one of many steps in expanding our digital offerings," feels Andrea Fryrear, Creators Syndicate's director of new media. "Creators' content is some of the most sought-after in the world. It's a natural fit for any digital platform, but we think it works particularly well on the iPhone and iPod touch."
Direct Links to the Creators Syndicate Titles on the iTunes Store
• B.C. March 09 Collection
• Dog Eat Doug March 09 Collection
• Girls and Sports March 09 Collection
• Heathcliff March 09 Collection
• iVerse web site: www.iversecomics.com
• Download the latest Syndicate Directory for Creators Syndicate (PDF format)
Thursday, 2 July 2009
The innovative 'Keeping IT in the Family' educational comic-book initiative was initially rolled out in April last year as a pilot project with Microsoft, and such has been the scheme's success it attracted an additional £38,000 funding from government agency Becta.
The new cartoon series is designed to support children in helping their parents, grandparents and older family members consolidate the basic skills they learned in the previous booklets - such as setting up an email account - and also to pick up some new educational tips.
Last November, 13-year old Sherbaz Khan (pictured above), a pupil at St John Wall School in Handsworth won the 'Keeping IT in the Family' award after teaching his granny how to use a computer using educational comic-style IT guides commissioned by Microsoft and developed by Citizens Online. Sherbaz's winning essay 'My IT Story' beat off stiff competition from hundreds of other school children to win a Sony PS3.
Developer Citizens Online has produced the booklet in an engaging and enjoyable format, as well as being an invaluable educational tool that illustrates the benefits of digital technology in an easy-to-understand way. Youngsters will now be able to use the comic books as support to teach their parents and family members about social networking and how to get the most from them; access healthy and tasty recipes for family meal times; get useful information for family or friends with disabilities and, importantly, learn all about safer internet use for the whole family.
The scheme is to be rolled out to Year 7 and 8 schoolchildren in 26 city schools that are participating in the Government's Computers for Pupils initiative which is designed to promote digital inclusion for Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils in disadvantaged areas.
As well as supplying guides for children to take home, Digital Birmingham is making them available through the city's libraries and for free download from the Digital Birmingham website www.digitalbirmingham.co.uk and from www.microsoft.com/uk/publicsector.
Digital Birmingham is a Birmingham City Council initiative and a strategic partnership of private, voluntary and public organisations throughout the city. It aims to establish Birmingham as a leading European digital city in 2010 and ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are available to all in the city.
Birmingham City Council Deputy Leader Paul Tilsley, who heads up the Digital Birmingham partnership said: "Birmingham is taking a lead in ensuring that digital technology can be accessed by all members of society. The success of Keeping IT in the Family just goes to prove that children are often the ones taking the lead in their families when it comes to computers and the Internet.
"Keeping IT in the Family goes to show that we all have a part to play in helping Birmingham combat the digital divide and promote digital inclusion, from the simple techniques of teaching granny how to text to more in depth activities of showing an uncle how to buy and sell online, so that everyone in Birmingham can benefit from getting to grips with new technologies."
Nikki Spencer, Digital Birmingham's Digital Empowerment Manager and Project Manager for Keeping IT in the Family is excited about the new comic books.
"The first comic book series has been hugely successful and we are thrilled our second series has now been produced to broaden kids IT skills even further," she said. "Whole families from grannies to toddlers have really benefited from this innovative scheme and are learning life-long skills in a really fun and exciting new way."
• For more information visit www.digitalbirmingham.co.uk.
• Download the comics from the Keeping IT in the Family Page here (PDF format)
TNTLTP tells the story of a group of friends from Milton Keynes who suffer from the usual concerns of our generation – niche interests, unfulfilling jobs, difficulties with dating etc. – but in a world where time travel exists and the UK in the present day is a holiday vacation for patronising visitors from the future.
Alex and Paul talk about the latter’s influences from Alan Bleasdale to Doctor Who, Kurt Vonnegut to Coronation Street, how the opening of a new memorial in Milton Keynes is best attended by a Dalek and the process of telling a long form narrative with an unusual structure.
• Strip!: There’s no time like the present airs at 5.00pm today, Thursday 2nd July, repeated 11.30pm 05/07/09, Resonance 104.4 FM (London) and streamed at www.resonancefm.com and podcast soon after transmission at www.panelborders.wordpress.com