Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin, the creative team that produced Anomaly, an ambitious sci-fi/AR-enhanced graphic novel released last year, were on hand at this years Comic-Con to promote Shifter: The Graphic Novel, the latest release in a line of painted, multimedia-enriched graphic novels. Written by Brittenham and illustrated by Haberlin, Shifter will be published in November and like Anomaly, its predecessor, the book will feature an array Augmented Reality effects that transforms the book’s imagery into lively, interactive 3D animations.
Interviewed at their booth on the floor of Comic-Con International, Haberlin talked about Shifter, the newest in what will be a line of ambitious sci-fi graphics novels, featuring the painted artwork of Haberlin, a veteran cartoonist and former editor-in-chief for Todd MacFarland. Shifter was created by Haberlin and Brittenham, a longtime power entertaiment lawyer turned writer/publisher and written by Haberlin and Brian Holgun. Brittenham and Haberlin are cofounders of the Anomaly Publishing venture. Anomaly, the graphic novel, and Shifter are essentially self-published by Anomaly Publishing.
Released last year, the Anomaly graphic novel is a massive 370 page hardcover work of epic science-fiction set in the far future (the company claims it’s the “longest orginal full-color graphic novel ever published,” and once seen, it’s hard to disagree with the claim). The book follows the crew of a corporate-driven expedition into deep space, which ends up stranded on a malevolent planet where their technology no long functions.
Haberlin said Anomaly the graphic novel is “not a one-off,” and that Anomaly Publishing will publish a line of titles, including Shifter, in addition to a separate sequel to Anomaly in 2014. Brittenham described Shifter as “ a Hitchcock thriller with a sci-fi twist.” Shifter is the story of an unwitting character that accidentally discovers an ancient alien space technology that allows him to experience life through other living things, including animals, ultimately transforming his vision of life and of the world.
The company sold about 4,000 copies of Anomaly, priced at $75, and in November is releasing an initial printing of 10,000 copies for Shifter ($29.95). The book also features a full range of Anomaly-inspired AR effects and interactive content (50 3D animations, extensive audio tracks and supplementary art and text supporting the book) via iOS and Android apps for tablets and the iPhone. Using the downloadable AR app on a phone or tablet, readers can view the illustrated pages of the book, which come alive with vibrant 3D animations that rise up off the page and actually seem to respond to physical interaction from the viewer.
Brittenham, a veteran entertainment lawyer who has worked with Pixar, DreamWorks and Illumination Entertaiment as well as in venture capital, said that originally the two had approached traditional publishers to produce the series. But ultimately the two experienced media veterans decided to start their own company and self-publish Anomaly, and now Shifter.
“We decided to do it ourselves,” Brittenham said, “we wanted something unique, something that would be fun to do, something different. We jumped at the chance to do Augmented Reality because we wanted to do something innovative. We wanted to rethink the paradym.”