Inspired by taking a grassroots approach to developing new material, the founders of Madefire, which include Liam Sharp, Ben Wolstenholme, and Eugene Walden, drew upon their collective experience in the world of comics to develop the next evolution in comic book storytelling.
Many of the players involved in Madefire come from a background that involved collective anthologies or have a desire to collaborate on current anthologies because of the opportunity for creativity; however, those types of projects can be costly.
“The issues with print lead to Madefire,” says Sharp. ” You’ve got a bunch of issues with anthologies because of distribution costs, leaving nothing when the product is sold.”
Looking at the advent of the iPhone and iPad as the next wave of engaging with comics, the founders embraced the new technology as a means of creating something fresh and new in comic book storytelling. Madefire’s app uses audio, video, and motion reading to enhance the comic experience.
“What can this do that a piece of paper can’t?,” says Sharp. “Well, we started thinking about things like hyperlinks, story clouds, and lettering.” Those are some of the areas that Madefire wanted to explore to make comics a more immersive process for comic fans.
The Madefire app takes digital comics a step further because it’s allowing writers and artists to take their imagination a step higher because the possibilities for presenting a comic are almost endless. Madefire also wants to distinguish itself from being just another motion comic book.
“Motion comics are basically a horse on a motorbike,” says Dave Gibbons via Liam Sharp. “We’re building a race car.”
For the Madefire crew, that has meant constantly refining their approach to how the app can be used with each of their different projects. “We’re building the plane as we’re flying it,” says Sharp. “The focus is still on the storytelling, but we realized we needed a new grammar. If the app gets in the way of reading, it just becomes bad animation”
At the same time, Sharp gives credit to motion comics. “Without motions comics, we wouldn’t be here,” he says. “We had to look at how we captured the art. What we’re doing uses all the same skills, but it’s fresh art.”
Having said that, Madefire is helping creators fully realize their vision by putting out work like Dave Gibbons’ Treatment and Bill Sienkiewicz’s Mono. One look at either of these titles speaks volumes. A look at the panorama dream sequence in Mike Carey’s Houses of the Holy clearly illustrates the potential for Madefire to change the way a story is told.
As Madefire continues to fly their unfinished plane through the skies of the digital world, Sharp and company plan on continuing to push the boundaries of the comic book experience while retaining the artistry and storytelling that make Madefire what it is.
Madefire can be found at booth 4902/4904 at the San Diego Comic Con this weekend where they are holding signings with Dave Gibbons, Liam Sharp, and others.