Interview: Brian Haberlin on pushing graphic novels into the digital realm
Staff Writer By: Henry Winchester (henrywinchester)
The Anomaly and Shifter creator--Brian Haberlin--talks to us about his career, his side projects, and how he's changed the way we read comic books.
How did you get into the graphic novel industry?
I started at TopCow Productions in 1993, and ended up running the creative side of the company and co-creating Witchblade. Then I left to start my own studio, doing work for Marvel, DC, Image and other illustration clients. Around this time, I also formed Avalon studios, where we did a bunch of creator-owned comics including Aria (the second highest selling comic in the US in its debut), Hellcop, The Wicked, M-Rex, Stone and many more. From here, I became editor in chief of Todd McFarlane's company, and penciled and inked his flagship book Spawn for two years, before leaving to start work on Anomaly.
Could you tell us about the process of creating Anomaly, and the other digital comics you've worked on?
Anomaly was the longest original graphic novel ever created. We wanted to have it available on all platforms, so we developed our own engine for interactive comics. It's out on Android and iOS, and it has a full soundtrack and 16 voice actors from TV, games and film performing 162 speaking roles. It was ranked the number one graphic novel on Apple iBooks.
Shifter, our second graphic novel, was the number one book app at Amazon, and it was number in 25 different countries for the iOS version on its debut. Faster Than Light, our newest monthly comic, is available on Comixology as well as print through Image comics.
All of the above have augmented reality apps for free. With these, you can point your Android or Apple device at the pages and they come to life with interactive characters and back story.
What is your specialty?
I'm one of the few all-arounders in the industry, I write, draw, sculpt, paint and edit. So I guess my specialty is "no specialty!" I even teach through my digitalarttutorials.com site, and at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
What inspires you?
Virtuosity. That element of pushing the envelope. When I see things done masterfully, or in a new unique way, that gets my competitive streak going.
What is it about digital comics that's most appealing?
The ability to change things on the fly. With a hybrid approach you can print a book and add an AR app to it, so you can add more to the book after publication. For example, when Anomaly launched it had 20 interactive pages. It now has 60. Our books are the only ones that can change and grow after publication. But I also love the immediacy of it: I could make one today and have it out there tomorrow. You can't do that with print.