Storycode San Francisco

In December I got invited to speak at the first inaugural Storycode event in my hometown of SF.  Its fitting that I got an opportunity to put together a cathartic post mortem presentation in my hometown.  I got a bit tipsy, and was really able to relax and open up to the audience.  The result is an hour of me telling all about the trials, tribulations, and hard lessons learned from the 4.5 years I spent birthing Ajax into the world. 
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Happy 60th Birthday Ajax

August 19th marked the 60th anniversary of the coup.  And what better way to celebrate than having the CIA itself formally take responsibility for Operation Ajax?  I found it a bit hard to believe that it actually happened, but my inbox was full of friends sending me various links from around the web saying things like “did you see this??” The nicest part for me personally was having the app mentioned on The Rachel Maddow Show.
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Ajax Tech Tour

I threw this quick demo together to showcase the potential power a realtime 3D environment can add to a comic book. Eventually I’ll add VO, but needed something quick for my impending trip / presentation to Belgium :)

Last Day in Amsterdam

This week has been a blur, opening for Doclabs was an honor and I got to meet many other accomplished and interesting people in the world of interactive narrative including NFB, Upian, Second Story, and more.  Ajax was nominated as a finalist for the interactive documentary section, but alas, it was not my night.  Still, to have my work considered was a huge honor. The Playgrounds / Submarine Channel event was also a treat, I got to meet a ton of other super talented creatives like David Wilson, The Daniels, Antfood, and PepperMelon.  To be considered a part of the culture was an immense honor, especially seeing Cognito Comics name in the opener: Some hi lights from their work: Daniels – Simple Math Daniels – Tenacious D David Wilson – We Got Time David Wilson – Sushi In addition to speaking at both events, I spent a day at the Hague with an intimate audience discussing the finer workings of my work in a larger socio political sense. I’m a bit torn at the end of the trip.  I feel like without a solid schedule of things to do, or people to see, I’m feeling sad and lonely here (and I’m in a lull!).  But I think I will feel better when I get back to London tomorrow eve to stay with some friends there. In terms of the big “what next”, I’m not sure where I’ll end up yet, but I am looking forward to figuring out something with more permanence that allows me to get a bit more into a pattern with my life. Now to go back to my hotel and chill out.  

Bound for Amsterdam

Several months ago, I was contacted by the IDFA to participate at the DocLabs interactive documentary festival in Amsterdam.  I was flattered, and, unexpectedly, I have 2 more speaking engagements while I am there, including a chance to speak with Submarine Channel, and LUC at the Hague.  A busy November for sure! It seems my core audiences for my work are more in Europe than they are in the US, ironically. Oh yea, CIA : Operation Ajax is entered in as an official selection, so extra icing on the cake if it wins. Wish me luck!

Game Time

The past few weeks here in the UK have been great, lots of amazing experiences to report back on, and I’ll be writing in detail about them soon. Right now, I’m in Derry, Northern Ireland.  It’s a strange place, somewhere in between a small town and a small city, with a very complicated past that I am just now starting to understand. I spent the last several days polishing my keynote presentation, and I am quite pumped.  I’ve come to realize how much I enjoy lecturing on the things that interest me, being able to weave a compelling narrative with accompanying visuals to tell a story to a live audience. Culture Tech starts today.  May the next several days be a great exchange of ideas and inspiration. EDIT – here is my presentation from Culture Tech:  

Next Page

The past few days have been a blur. I put the Cognito Office into low power mode, put a ton of stuff into storage, and prepared to rent out my place for 5 weeks while I take a break.  Maybe that’s oversimplifying a bit, its difficult to describe exactly where I’m at right now. I first moved Cognito into an external space in early 2010.  This was when Ajax went from being a project I was doing primarily on my own out of my house to a true endeavor, and thus a very significant moment for me and the company. It was definitely bittersweet packing things up.  So many things happened in that space, both good and bad.  I feel like a new person sitting at my desk, here in my home once more. Tomorrow at 6 am I catch a flight to Glasgow Scotland, where I will spend the next 4 weeks  bouncing around and pondering what I’m going to do next with my life.  The trip ends with me in Derry, Northern Ireland as a keynote speaker for the culture tech festival, and I’m sure I will have many experiences along the way that will help me in deciding which branch of the path to take next. Every day I understand more deeply the luck and honor I’ve had to explore Ajax for the past 4.5 years of my life.  I’m both humbled and grateful to know that my work had an impact on the publishing industry at large, and that I was given the opportunity to spend so much time polishing it. I’m sure I’ll be writing more details about the Ajax experience with my much needed downtime over the coming weeks.  For now, it’s time to unwind and not think too much about things for a while :) stay tuned.

SDCC 2012

I first attended in San Diego Comicon in 2009.  I was new to the industry, and spent most of my time in Artist Alley trying to recruit people to my cause.  It was painful.  As much as I loved comics, and knew that I wanted to contribute to the medium, I had a very hard time getting peoples attention and convincing them I was worth their time. The second year I was there, the iPad has just launched and I again was trying to convince people that what I was doing was worthwhile.  The comics industry was still very dismissive of digital, and the most memorable quote I got was from the head of SLG.  “Why would I want an iPad?  It doesn’t print!” My, how the tide has changed. I must say, if there was ever an affirmation of the progress I’ve made with Ajax, SDCC was proof in the pudding.  Here are some hilights: I reached out to Ryan Woodward after learning of his new graphic novel Bottom of the Ninth. I became a fan of Ryans work after seeing his amazing short animation, Thought of You.  Apparently Operation Ajax played a key part in inspiring Ryan to create his iPad comic, and to know that my work appeals to people that I respect so much was really an incredible boost. I first met Robert Valley at SDCC in 2009, before I knew who he was.  His work on the Beatles Rockband Intro remains to this day one of my favorite pieces of animation.  I got to have dinner with him and several others that create the Tron animated series, and given the trend of Disney with Tall Chairs tools, I’m optimistic about a future collaboration in the interactive comics space. Madefire hosted a dinner and I got to meet Dave Gibbons among others excited to be creating in this new medium.  Given that it was the Watchmen Motion Comic that inspired the presentation style of Ajax, it seemed only fitting that he is involved from the ground up pioneering this new medium. I got to revamp my panel from SXSW on Reinventing the Graphic Novel for the iPad. It was an honor to present my work before the comics audience, and the response I got suggested that my message strikes a nerve and raises some good questions about the future of digital books. I dressed up in classic spy attire.  Its probably time I bought one of these outfits for myself, given how pricey renting them has been… Overall, best Con yet.  I can’t imagine what I’ll be talking about at SDCC 2013, but I’m quite curious to know what it will be :)