Sometimes, it's quite easy to forget how truly innovative iPhone and iPad apps can be. They can revolutionize concepts that we've taken for granted in an earlier guise, something that the folks behind NIKO and the Sword of Light hope to achieve.
Having recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to aid their project, four college friends from London and Toronto hope to change comic books massively, by launching the first fully animated hand-drawn comic book app. They certainly have the pedigree, too. Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera, from Imaginism Studios, are well known for their work on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and Men in Black 3, while Adam Jeffcoat and Jim Bryson, of StudioNX, have worked for companies such as Nickelodeon, CBBC and EA Games.
With a plan to launch NIKO and the Sword of Light this summer, the team told me a little more about exactly how it all came to be and precisely why it's worth taking this Kickstarter campaign seriously.
"Niko was born from the idea that we wanted to make something different from the types of cartoons and movies that were out there. Something dark and edgy that enabled us to tell a story that would transport our audience…through awe inspiring landscapes full of wondrous characters and monstrous beasts.", explained Adam Jeffcoat. "We wanted to take the darker feel of graphic novels and combine it with the style of modern animated movies to come up with something that would appeal to both adults and children alike!"
As he explains, the story is set to be a classic battle between "dark versus light" with "one tiny hero against all the odds." After all, it's an apt concept given that "[the] real world always seems to be faced with so much darkness every time you turn on the news." Discussing the team's addiction to TV shows such as Game of Thrones and Spartacus, Adam pointed out that they "love the idea that our world could have once been a place where magic existed, where dragons roamed and where the forces of dark and light were at constant war with each other."
Further inspiration stemmed from "modern graphic novels such as Hellboy", focusing on a "darker and more adult way" of telling a story.
Ambitiously, Adam and the team didn't want to stick to typical ways of doing comic books or graphic novels: "Right from the start we wanted to to something that hadn't been done before." The iPad played a pivotal role given, "this thing bridges the gap between static and animated." Adam feels such interactivity will add to the experience too, "to create a sense of real tension."
The combined work of StudioNX and Imaginism Studios is a truly modern way of doing things, given that one half of the team is based in Toronto and the other half is in the UK. With a sound designer in Mexico, and coders located in Australia and the US, Adam extolled the virtues of Skype, email and Dropbox to make it easier to be working so remotely.
Acknowledging the importance of retaining momentum throughout the Kickstarter campaign, Adam also explained the importance of getting marketing just right. Facebook has proved a valuable ally, thanks to the team's focus on keeping fans informed each step of the way.
While the glimpses of work are fleeting, NIKO and the Sword of Light looks quite special already, thanks to some beautiful artwork within.
The Kickstarter campaign has around three weeks to go and it's already nearly hit its goal. If you're interested in participating, check out the campaign page, which offers some pretty cool pledge rewards, as well as learn more via their Facebook page. We'll be sure to keep up to date with all the latest developments, also.