It took awhile, but I finally got around to finishing Anomaly. I first set eyes on this magnificent book at the Phoenix Comic Con 2013 and became an instant fan. Developed by Anomaly Productions started by VFX artist Skip Brittenham and comic book writer and editor Brian Haberlin , Anomaly is a visually groundbreaking augmented reality graphic novel. Every other page in this enormous book, weighing in at almost ten pounds, contains augmented reality that can be accessed by downloading the app onto your smart phone, ipad or iphone. Once downloaded you point the camera at specific pages and voila, the characters come to life in exquisite detail.
The app allows you to rotate your ipad or phone, to see the character on all sides. Each character also does an action when you swipe your finger across the screen, but I wouldn’t be telling you any of this if Anomaly wasn’t a good story in itself.
If you can get past the size of the book, it’s actually quite a good read!
Dishonorably discharged from the Conglomerate’s elite Enforcer Corps, Jon is doing a job too lowly for a robot. He leaps at the chance to go on a peaceful, first contact mission to an untainted world. Playing armed babysitter to Samantha, the daughter of a powerful Conglomerate executive shouldn’t be too hard. What could go wrong?
For Jon, it’s a relief to get away – on an easy assignment protecting a couple of do-gooders visiting a peaceful new planet. For Samantha, it’s a mission to change the world. For Jasson, it’s a chance to put his theories to the test.
Being marooned on Anomaly where technology doesn’t work, the terrain is lethal and the creatures even more so, Jon quickly learns he’s not the man he once was. Dark secrets surround the various species that call this world home. Jon’s actions here have the potential to ripple across the void of space, and touch everything in it… Maybe even the Conglomerate…
But when Anomaly sprouts synthetics-eating viruses, flesh-eating mutants and deadly magic, it becomes a race against which form of death will come first. Who will survive? Who will return?
The story flows well as we follow our protagonist to this primitive planet, where large mutants live and magic still exists. The danger’s Jon’s crew face are well beyond human understanding, but watching them apply western arrogance to a problem beyond reasoning, is kind of a hoot. The banter isn’t too cliche, but they border on it sometimes, however the scope of the world is beautifully laid out in long pages that gives you a panoramic of the planet in every turn of the page.
I must say that a few of the creatures, structures and scenes, take huge sips from the Peter Jackson cup, but I was able to look past it. It’s almost an homage to games like Halo and movies like Lord of the Rings with a sprinkle of AVATAR…for good measure. I also wasn’t able to look at all the augmented stuff while I read, simply cause I was too busy reading and the augmented stuff was slowing me down, but that’s not to say you can’t go back when it’s done and look til your hearts content.
I still think there are a few kinks to work out before we start seeing augmented reality books on the shelf, but I think they are making vast strides in the field. An idea, I think, that would up the stakes on this technology, provided they haven’t come up with this already, is for someone to develop glasses that allow you to experience the augmented reality without taking your hands off the book, wait a tick…Google Glasses!! We could take that idea a step further and put headphones in the glasses, that would give you a soundtrack, narration if needed or sound effects. This of course is an interfacing nightmare, but one well worth looking into.
As for Anomaly, it’s a brilliant look at what will be the future of comic books and I am eagerly awaiting the next issue.