Following on from our last Indie Spotlight where we looked at a comic which is available in both digital and traditional paper form; Geeks Unleashed got a chance to look at an exclusively digital comic. There are no paper copies of Power Play out there and really there doesn’t need to be. Reilly Brown and Kurt Christenson’s independently published comic Power Play has really turned the digital comic art form on its head and instead of reading it like a comic book with a swipe of your finger and turning from one page to the next you get scene by scene with the swipe of the finger which gives it a movie like feel. I really enjoyed what they did with Power Play and have enjoyed the first few issues and gave my new table a chance to appreciate the modern way of reading comics. Even if you just have a smart phone you should definitely give it a try. Although Reilly Brown publishes his creator-owned book; Power Play through Comixology, he also has drawn many Marvel titles including the buddy book Cable and Deadpool, Amazing Spiderman, Hercules and more recently Avengers Vs X-Men: Infinite. Geeks Unleashed caught up with Reilly to find out more about Power Play:
Geeks Unleashed: How did Power Play come about? Was this something that came out over a cup of coffee?
Reilly Brown: Heh, it probably came about more over a pint of beer than a cup of coffee. Me and Kurt had been friends for a while, and wanted to work on a creator owned story that took advantage of the fact that we were both in NY at the time. I really wanted to do a story where the setting was really authentic, where I could walk around the city with the writer and plot out the story as we went, making use of actual New York buildings and landmarks, rather than just draw a generic city background. We also wanted to do a story that took advantage of all the new technology that was available that most comics publishers and creators simply weren’t making use of at the time. When we met David Steinberger and John Roberts from Comixology everything came together and really took off from there.
Geeks Unleashed: The style of the comic has a movie / television feel to it. The art is very stylish in this respect. What inspired this artistic approach?
Reilly: I’m very happy with how the art turned out for Power Play. One of the great things about being my own editor is that I have first and last say on how everything looks, so I could really make sure that what came out on the finished page was exactly the image I saw in my mind– especially in the first issue where I did all the art and coloring myself. That’s a freedom I don’t quite have when working for other companies.
A lot of the cinematic approach to the storytelling was a natural move that came with planning a story for the iPod and Kindle screens. I was suddenly free to use certain cinematic effects that are normally impossible in comics, such as zooming, panning or cutting to another shot. Some of these things are very “comic book” things to do, but have never actually been done in a comic book before!
It was great to make use of these new storytelling tools!
Geeks Unleashed: The comic has been described as “X-Games for superheroes.” Are you both big sports fans?
Reilly: No, not really, ha ha! At least there’s no team that I follow religiously or anything like that. I’ve always enjoyed playing sports more than actually watching them. I played ice hockey for years as a kid, and played in a local dodge ball league for a few seasons here in Hoboken. I kind of like the more off-beat sports like that, which is part of the fun in Power Play as well.
Geeks Unleashed: What made you chose Digital Comics exclusively over publishing the comic?
Reilly: Honestly, when I first read some digital comics on my computer screen, I wasn’t really into them because most comics distributed digitally are still obviously made with print in mind. I’d read comics on my computer screen, but the image files weren’t made to fit the screen dimensions, I’d have to scroll back and forth to see the whole thing, and it just seemed like the medium was fighting against it’s own presentation too much to be enjoyable.
It seemed short sighted to me.
Then when I saw how Comicology was authoring it’s comics to create an excellent reading experience on a handheld device, even though they were working with material that was made for print, it read really well, and I saw that and thought “hmmm, I bet if I made something that was designed to be read digitally this way I could do something REALLY cool…”
Also it’s great to dive into a new evolution of the comics art form that very few other people have jumped on yet. It gives me a chance to play around and discover things before anyone else has written the rules for me. It’s a chance to be a pioneer, and chances like that don’t come around very often.
Geeks Unleashed: What’s been your biggest challenges and enjoyments of publishing in this format?
Reilly: The biggest challenge, initially, was just figuring out a way to organize the script, because normally it’s organized by pages, but that doesn’t really apply any more. We were changing the main unit a comic is measured by, and that was a difficult hurdle to get over– I’m not even sure we’re entirely over it yet!
The best enjoyment is just playing with all the new toys, like I mentioned earlier.
Geeks Unleashed: Is Power Play planned as an ongoing or mini series? Is there a long term story arc?
Reilly: At the moment it’s planned to be a 5-issue mini series, but we’ll come back to it time and again as we see fit. It’s difficult to find the time to do creator-owned stuff amid everything else that we both have going on, but because of the tournament nature of the story, the story lends itself to short installments. There is an overarching story, but we can take it one match at a time and it will work out perfectly well.
Geeks Unleashed: Can you tell us more about the main character Mac?
Reilly: Mac’s the everyman POV character and we get introduced to the Power Play games through his eyes. He’s you’re typical slacker college student who’s more interested in drinking than studying, but he’s now at that point in his life where he has to start making decisions about which doors he wants to open, and which ones he has to leave shut. It’s about becoming an adult, and making those decisions is daunting to him.
That’s reflected in his super power, which is to turn into whatever substance he touches– but how are use supposed to make up your mind about what you want to be, when you can literally be anything?
Geeks Unleashed: Besides comics what other types of media are you looking at for Power Play?
Reilly: Right now comics are the main thing, if for no other reason than that’s the industry I work in. I mean, I guess if some movie or animation studio wanted to do something with Power Play it might be worth chatting with them. Any Hollywood big shots in your reading audience? Tell them to give me a call!
Geeks Unleashed: Can you tell us if you plan on releasing any other comics this way?
Reilly: I’ve already worked on Avengers Vs X-Men Infinite with Mark Waid and Yves Bigerel, which came out on Comixology in August and is done in this exact same fashion. It’s cool to see Marvel jumping on the digital bandwagon, and it’s also cool to be working with them on it.
I’m sure there will be even more to follow from both the bigger publishers and the indy guys.
Geeks Unleashed: Lastly are there any other projects which you both have on the horizon?
Reilly: Always! I’m currently working on some Scarlet Spider stuff for Marvel, and also contributing some artwork to the free online video game, Legacy of Heroes. Besides that we’ve still got more Power Play waiting in the wings, so keep an eye out for it!
Geeks Unleashed: Thanks Reilly for your time. If you want to keep up to date with Reilly you can follow him on Twitter, you can checkout his art work on his Tumblr or at Deviant Art or head over to Comixology if you’re interested in purchasing digital copies of Power Play.