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Friday, 15 July 2011

Liam Sharp announces new digital comic project

Treatment by and ©
Dave Gibbons
(with thanks to Matt Badham for the spot): Comic creator Liam Sharp and Ben Wolstenholme, founding member and CEO of Moving Brands, are teaming up with creators such as Dave Gibbons and to launch Madefire, a new digital comics company.

Debuting at the San Diego Comic Convention next week, Liam says Madefire was initially almost a digital and PoD version of Mam Tor Publishing, with new work created by top names at the highest level.

"What I found with Mam Tor was that the costs were prohibitive when it came to small runs printed traditionally," he notes on his web site. "Unfortunately for small companies there are no concessions and you don't get the same benefits. Print runs, advertising, distribution, etc. cost the full amount. Bigger companies with huge runs get all the discounts as incentives.

"It's the way of the world that wealth and success is rewarded with gifts, discounts and free promotion - you can see and clearly understand the economical model and thinking behind that, but it makes it extremely hard for start-ups. So Mam Tor lost a lot of money, but I still felt it mattered and remained an important platform.

When Ben, a talented artist who attended Liam's school, was finally reunited with his old friend, they soon set about putting the world to rights and looking at ways to work together.
Dead Apes in the Snow
by Liam Sharp

"Ben was desperate to exercise his creative side again and showed me some brilliant developmental work he had been doing on various characters - for films, books and comics. I told him our experience with Mam Tor, he told me his at Moving Brands, and we started throwing ideas around for projects we could jointly be involved with... Ultimately what we both knew we wanted out of a collaboration between us was simple - the chance to publish our own work under our own terms. So then it became a question about how do we do that?

"The answer was - create a digital comic. Create an app.

"The great thing about the current situation of digital publishing is that it's wide open," Liam argues. "There are no rules yet, and nothing is truly dominating in the same way the big companies dominate printed matter. We can get our work out to anybody. And it can also be collated and printed to order for anybody who loves printed matter.

"For me, the internet is the new corner shop - the more comics are seen in digital format the more people will get interested in them and find their way back to the stores. At the moment kids no longer see comics in the shops. In day to day life you barely see them at all! When I was young you saw them in every newsagent and street corner store. On holiday they were bagged in multiple copies and sold cheap. That was the thing - it was cheap, accessible entertainment. I didn't even know there were specialist outlets until I was about 19! So for me it was the wider visibility of the material that hooked me in, and later took me to the stores where you could really indulge your interest. One led to the other. So after that it was about building a fantastic platform and getting some great talent on board - and that's where we're at now."

Captain Stone is Missing
by Liam and Chris Sharp
Stories planned for release later this year so far are Captain Stone is Missing... by Liam and his wife Christina; and Dave Gibbons is writing and drawing a story featuring his creator-owned characters called 'Treatment'.

"Ben is debuting in comics and showcasing his character 'Mono'," Liam reveals. "We have other stories in development too, from Mike Carey and Dave Kendall, called 'Houses of the Holy', and Edmund Bagwell, called 'Ricky the Boy Machine'. And there will be opportunities for established talent and new creators to get involved as we progress.

"Ben and I have been working on this for a couple of years now, and San Diego Comic Con just seemed the perfect place to raise our heads above the parapets and announce our arrival - which we're celebrating with my books Dead Apes in the Snow and The Shed, as well as Ben's Mono sketchbook, all published traditionally by Madefire."

• Dave Gibbons, Ben and Liam will be signing and answering questions on the Madefire stand (4902 in SDCC) on the Saturday afternoon at 4.00pm, and they'll have other bits and bobs to give away, too. More info: www.liam-sharp.com/madefire.htm

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