Wednesday afternoon I popped round to Paul's house for a quick chat (and a couple of headache tablets) and I saw a demo of MurderDrome, the first iteration of a new comic application for the iPhone.
There have been a few comic reader apps for the iPhone/iPod touch out there, most notably ClickWheel Comic Reader which gives access to a lot of content produced for 2000AD.
The Murderdrome iPhone comic demoed to me that day had a few very startling and fresh ideas.
The content was perfectly sized for the high res (160 dpi) screen of the iPod touch and iPhone. The side-side swipe of the finger moved from page to page but the UP-DOWN swipe of a finger took you through the content on that page. It removed colour, then inking, then brought the images down to the base wireframe. You could see the process on how it was made. You can, at a touch, remove or re-add speech bubbles and there are other settings (greyscale etc) which I didn't have time to play with.
Paul (art, letters, colour) and Al (writer) have collaborated to make Murderdrome specially for the iPhone/iPod touch screen. The code was written by Philip Orr who you'll also recognise as one of the names behind infurious. Watch Phil's Blue Pilot for some very interesting developments soon.
See the Youtube video for more
The business model is simple. Aiming for a $1.99 price for a standard comic (equivalent to 22 pages in a standard American size comic), Apple take 30% of the money as their commission. InfuriousComics take 10% and the remaining 60% goes to the creators. Seem harsh? Not so much when you hear tales of how much comic creators get when their comics are sold - sometimes they have to sell in excess of 9000 copies just to break even - even if carried by a major publisher. This new model would mean creators get paid for every book they produce. If you sell 200 copes, you get 60% of cover. If you sell 3000 copies you get 60% of cover. That's a lot better than the rates offered in print.
MURDERDROME has been banned from the App Store for breaking rules about content. Please view the video and show some support for content being made available on the App Store by commenting on the article here.
You'll also find links to other coverage of this cool new application.
Why is this relevant to LateGaming?
Apart from my association with Paul and Philip and subsequent involvement in InfuriousComics, there has been discussion about using their cool reader technology to build 'decision tree books' or as we used to call them 'Choose your path' style books. That has interest to me!
I find myself thinking a lot about Frontier these days. (It's probably because I have some self-imposed deadlines for 'Illusion' and '6'.)
Over the last couple of years I've harvested some twenty names from the freelancer forums of RPG.net as I try to get a feel for the art that I want for my games. Some of them are for games in development, some of them capture the feel of games not even fully realised. I just want to grab the names, the web sites and keep them while my brain stews over the content.
The opening of the Frontier book should have a visual representation (otherwise known as a picture) of Kumbu. It needs some sparse flavour text to describe where to go from there and then it should move to background describing how to get there.
It's a nice feeling, crystallising the book in your mind. Makes you want it all the more.
Last night I commissioned two art pieces from Storn Cook for the upcoming War of the Worlds book. I really like Storn's art (massive thread on RPG.net here) and he was very nice when I enquired about the commission and explained what I wanted, even going so far as to suggest additional things.
The 'look' of the Martian fighting machine is very important. We've seen the interpretations from the 1953 Paramount film and the 2005 Spielberg film as well as the very recognisable version from the front cover of Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds 'opera'. We need to take a different direction to all of these and start from first principles. We need something that looks in place in the start of the 20th Century but also Storn suggested we do an updated model which I find encouraging. I am now beside myself with impatience at what the result will be.
Some of the interior art from editions of the novel are striking. The theme of it being like a round hut on legs is peculiar as my impressions from reading is that the machines appear 'cowled'. More on this later.
Things are moving along and we have a great vision for the book.
(Minor edit - fixed the link)
(Minor edit 2 - added in the RPG.net link)
I'm arrogant to believe that I can write and, to be honest, most of the time the feedback has been pretty good. I like writing, it'd be nice to do it for a living (and not the stressful but boring job at $BIG_COMPANY) but them's the breaks. In my spare time I write a lot and only a small fraction of it makes it to the blog here.
I have noticed, however, that my layout and design skills need some exercise and possibly even some help. I can appreciate good design, I just have issues doing it myself. Part of this is inspiration and part of it is time (which I have less and less of) and skill (my photoshop skills are not legendary).
Looking at the character sheets I left for download earlier this week, they belie their age. They were done in 2000 or so and were definitely more 'tell' than 'show'. That's the first thing. They look like Civil Service Sickness Benefit forms. I was sent a character sheet recently that was 7 pages long and full colour. I've seen the pre-gen character sheets for Everway. I think I need to raise the bar considerably.
I also need an artist in general as PJ is now going to be too busy and I don't know anyone else who knows how to hold a pen.
I got this from the blog of reknowned comic artist PJ Holden
So you want to be a writer? Or do you want to make a living as a writer?
My style is more or less based on existing photographs. I use those to paint over them in photoshop. Since they're not sketches, it's impossible to do it in black and white.
Sounds perfect for both The 23rd Letter and what I also envisaged for Qabal. And I am interested in finding out what this image is about.
I hate the fact that I'm crap at drawing. I can describe stuff but I'm finding more and more that I want to find a concept artist. I want to have some images to post with the content I'm writing.
I'm nto quite at the stage where I'll post something onto RPGnet and I'm not sure how it would work out with that most dreaded of things "payment". I'd like to talk to someone about it and see what we can do....