Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
Cyberforce, Stryke Force, Shi, Witchblade, Kiss, Spawn, Captain Wonder, and many others – Artist extraordinaire Brian Haberlin (Artist, Writer, Editor, and Producer) played a major role with all these great titles. Last year’s NY Comic Con marked the debut of his new ground-breaking/history-making creation, Anomaly, which uses Ultimate Augmented Reality (UAR) technology. And in what looks like a new tradition for Mr. Haberlin, this year’s NY Comic Con premiered another new UAR graphic novel, Shifter.
In meeting up with Mr. Haberlin on the first day of NYCC, there already was quite a crowd gathered around his area to see both his now famed book Anomaly, as well as his new creation, Shifter. The area in general was a technological showcase, demonstrating the interactive 3D imaging for both his books. Anomaly alone is something Mr. Haberline is quite proud of, “It’s the longest original full color graphic novel ever done, with 370 pages and 50 pages of augmented reality.”
He went on to show me how UAR technology works with his books. In a nut shell, it’s a software that enables you to view the pages as an interactive 3D image. As he pointed his tablet toward the book cover and the pages inside, he explained, “You download the preapp onto your android or apple device, phones or tablets, and you point it at the pages where it comes alive with 3D interactivity. You can also touch the characters on the screen to interact with you.”
The images on the device began morphing into a fun, and creative interactive figure when he tapped on the screen. To describe it does not do it justice, you have to experience it to really appreciate it, and this demo area did exactly just that. Parents, kids, adults, collectors, and enthusiasts were admiring this new wonder – one woman watching the demo exclaimed, “My niece would love this for Christmas!”
I even picked up both Anomaly and Shifter for myself to take home.
He went on to show me more on the tablet as he continued pointing toward the pages, “There’s also another 100 pages of appendices information that’s not contained in the actual printed book. And the real exciting part for someone like me that likes to tell stories, about 3 months ago we updated it with 10 more augmented reality pages. So this is the first graphic novel in history that can grow after publication.”
Anomaly takes place in the far distant future in the year 2717 with a group explorers going on a standard first-contact mission. “What they don’t know is that no one ever returns from this planet alive -they were sent there to be gotten rid of. When they get there, their technology is destroyed, and they have to deal with the charming inhabitants of the planet.”
As Mr. Haberlin was explaining this, I was flipping through the book and was amazed by its content. The color and detailed art on each page came out without the help of any augmented or 3D technology.
When I asked Mr. Heberlin how this idea got started, he said, “At the time, I was penciling and inking Spawn the comic book, and I was helping Todd (McFarlane) and Robert Kirkman. I came in for a meeting with Todd and Robert, and Todd said, ‘You know bud, you want to be famous for doing your own characters, not Stan’s and Jack’s or any of the other guy’s.’ Robert then chimed in saying the same thing, and I started thinking ‘You know, I used to do my own characters.’ That’s how this got started.”
I went on to ask him how Anomaly itself got started. “My business partner came to me with the concept for it. I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’ We decided to go big or go home, and do this gigantic book like no one else has ever done.”
Still mesmerized by it’s size and pages, I expressed how incredible it was, and asked him how it has been doing so far after a year of publication. “It’s been doing great, although the problem with it, as you’ve seen here, it needs a certain amount of hand-selling. I can tell you all about it, but until you see it, feel it, play with it, you don’t get what it is.”
He motioned to his area with its demo screens. “We also have an online version, voice acted with 16 actors from TV, movies, and games, doing 160 speaking parts. The first chapter is free on any device.”
“We now have this brand new one, Shifter, that comes out this month. That’s more of a contemporary, Hitchcock, sci-fi, action, thriller.” “Tell me about more about it.” “Well, there’s this low-level government worker that stumbles upon some data that doesn’t seem right and reports it to his boss…”
At this point, I won’t spoil you any further details of the story, but I will give you the general synopsis. A low level government worker is accused of murder, and is sought after by the authorities and the company that’s conspiring to cause some destruction for what they think is “the greater good.” While on the run, the government worker, Noah Freeman, comes upon an otherworldly device which enables him to morph into several different species from the anthropological history of Earth.
Once I opened the first page at home, I couldn’t put down the 222 page book and finished it all within one afternoon. It wasn’t so much of the story itself, which takes place in modern times, but the combination of the ‘what will happen next’ action, the images and color on each page, the sci-fi portion within the story, as well as the UAR technology (pointing at the pages with my smart phone, watching the image come alive, tapping on the screen to interact with it) that kept my attention page after page.
When I asked Mr. Haberlin how he got the idea for Shifter, he said, “Originally, it was going to be a WWII story. But it became this. That’s what happens when you start creating with people you like working with, going back and forth like, ‘What if it was like this?’ ‘Oh yeah, that’s a good idea’, and keep spinning off of it. Basically, brain-storming.”
My next question was something I like asking anyone that’s become successful, “With Comics Crux, we have a lot of readers ranging from the enthusiast, to the professionals, and everyone else in between with a great many wanting to try to break into the industry. Do you have anything you’d like to share, or any words of wisdom?”
“Well, the great thing about being an artist is, if we keep at it, keep having that passion, we keep getting better. So for anyone that hasn’t broken in yet, keep trying; and for those who are still in it, keep the passion, because you’ll just keep getting better and better and better. I’m a firm believer with the ’10,000 hour rule’. You got to put in 10,000 hours of work before you’re at the level where you can really move professionally.”
On behalf of Comics Crux, thank you for your time Brian. We hope to see your next project soon!