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Monday, November 5, 2012

“Anomaly” by Skip Brittenham & Brian Haberlin (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

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INTRODUCTION: Anomaly, an epic science fiction adventure, is releasing on November 15, 2012 simultaneously as a 370-page hardcover—the longest original full-color graphic novel ever published—and as a stand-alone tablet app. Stunning artwork and rich storytelling meet cutting-edge technology to immerse readers in the world of Anomaly in the way they choose to experience it.

Anomaly’s co-creators come from diverse worlds themselves—Brian Haberlin is a renowned comic book writer and artist, and Skip Brittenham is one of the country’s premier entertainment lawyers having worked with the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks Animation. Together they wrote and designed Anomaly’s dazzling universe, working with distinguished professors in philosophy, religion and science to develop the cultural landscape and planetary functions introduced in the book, which are based on actual historical and scientific facts.

Written by Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin, with art by Haberlin and Geirrod Van Dyke, Anomaly’s story is set in the year 2717, a time when most humans live in off-world colonies, and a single corporation, The Conglomerate, routinely conquers other planets to steal their resources. A group of explorers embark on a diplomatic mission to a mysterious planet, only to find themselves embroiled in a global conflict between its exotic inhabitants. The explorers face lethal terrain, killer mutants and deadly magic in this new world where nothing is as it seems…

FORMAT/INFO: As mentioned above, Anomaly is 370 pages long, with 319 of that consisting of the actual story. The rest of the page count includes a Timeline, information on The Conglomerate (Galactic Expansion, FTL Travel, the Corishtani Conflict, CID numbers, Social Order), a Glossary, and excerpts from Tonni’s Journal during his time on the planet Anomaly.

The hardcover book is oversized at 15 x 10 inches and has been printed using a groundbreaking wide-gamut process that allows for more range of color and detail than has ever been available in conventional printing. The illustrations range from intimate, personal scenes to full cinematic double-page spreads. 

The hardcover book also comes with a free app that is equipped with Ultimate Augmented Reality™ (UAR) technology, which integrates technology and the printed page like never before. UAR technology is just starting to catch on and has never been used to this extent for a book. It’s very user friendly—by pointing your iOS or Android device at the pages of the book, a reader will be able to bring animated holographic imagery to life and interact with additional details, illustrations, and an entire backstory that cannot be accessed by reading alone. In short, it’s a book with “DVD extras” built right in.

Anomaly will also be available as a stand-alone app ($4.99) for multiple platforms including iOS, Android, NOOK and Kindle, with many interactive features included.  In other words, a user will be able to read the book as a regular graphic novel on a device, or experience it as a kind of semi-movie, animated in parts and brought to life by over 16 live voice actors—including such acclaimed science fiction and video game actors as Vincent Corazza, Nana Visitor, Olivia D’Abo, Dave Fennoy, Keith Szarabajka, Hudson Leick and Anthony Cistaro. And if all that weren’t enough, the book is also in development as a live action feature film by director/producer Joe Roth (Alice In Wonderland, Snow White & The Huntsman, Oz: The Great & Powerful).

PLOT SYNOPSIS: In the year 2717, Earth, the planet we call home, slowly dies beneath us. Most humans now live in teeming surface “Terrarium Cities,” off-world colonies, or orbiting space stations. All of Earth’s resources have been depleted.

To save humanity, all corporations, nations and technologies have merged into The Conglomerate. The Conglomerate uses Enforcer Battalions to conquer whole planets and steal its resources, in the process becoming the most ruthless profit machine to ever exist.

Dishonorably discharged from The Conglomerate’s elite Enforcer Corps, Jon is now working a job that is considered too lowly for even a robot. So when he’s offered the chance to embark on a peaceful, first contact mission to an untainted world, he leaps at the opportunity. After all, playing armed babysitter to Samantha, the daughter of a powerful Conglomerate executive, shouldn’t be too hard. What could go wrong?


What begins as an easy assignment protecting a couple of do-gooders visiting a peaceful new planet quickly turns into a nightmare. Synthetics-eating viruses, flesh-eating mutants, deadly magic . . . which form of death will come first? To make matters worse, Jon learns he’s not the man he once was and his actions have the potential to ripple across the void of space and touch everything in it . . . including The Conglomerate

ANALYSIS: When a copy of Anomaly landed on my doorstep, I was immediately blown away by the size of the graphic novel. At fifteen inches wide and ten inches tall, Anomaly is massive, bringing to mind the awesome Absolute collections from DC Comics. It’s pretty obvious why the creators of Anomaly chose this oversized format once I cracked open the book—the digital artwork is simply stunning! I’ve included several images from the graphic novel in this post (and dozens more can be found HERE), but these small samples cannot convey how awesome Anomaly looks in hardcover format, especially when the book is opened to one of its majestic double-page spreads.

Compared to the artwork, Anomaly’s story leaves a lot to be desired. The plotting is conventional and predictable, characters are shallow and one-dimensional, and dialogue is cheesy at best. In other words, the writing in Anomaly is a far cry from the likes of Watchmen, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison or Neil Gaiman. Then again, Anomaly is not your typical graphic novel. Instead, Anomaly is more of a visual experience and I believe what the story may lack in the writing department is made up for in other areas like the extra content found at the end of the book or the Ultimate Augmented Reality™ (UAR) technology which I have yet to try out.

Genre-wise, Anomaly is described as “an epic science fiction adventure”, but a heavy dose of fantasy is also featured in the mix. So imagine bits and pieces of Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Avatar and Disney’s John Carter all fused together, and it would be something similar to what Anomaly has to offer. Based on the films just mentioned, one could safely assume that Anomaly is not very original, and they would be right, but the book is still a blast to read . . . much like the aforementioned movies. And if the Ultimate Augmented Reality™ (UAR) technology is even half as cool as it sounds, then Anomaly—and hopefully its sequels—is the kind of story I will want to experience again and again…


Anomaly Productions is a cutting-edge media company launched by creators Skip Brittenham and Brian Haberlin. Anomaly Productions combines stunning artwork and rich stories to build deeply immersive worlds than can be experienced across multiple platforms and in a multitude of ways. Anomaly is its first release, with three other projects in various stages of production.


Skip Brittenham is the author of a series of illustrated fantasy novels including Between Worlds, which is forthcoming from Anomaly Productions. He is also a senior partner of Ziffren Brittenham LLP, one of the country’s premier entertainment law firms, where he has represented some of the world’s most successful actors, directors, and producers. For more than twenty years, he has worked closely with leading animation companies including Pixar, DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment, and has served on the boards of both Pixar and DreamWorks Animation.


Brian Haberlin is a comic book artist, writer, editor and producer. He began his career in comics working at Top Cow Productions, where he co-created the Witchblade franchise, which has since expanded to include multiple spin-offs, a live action television series, an anime, and an upcoming film. He founded Haberlin Studios in 1995, producing commercial illustrations and digital coloring for Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Image Comics. He then co-founded Avalon Studios, which published many successful fantasy and sci-fi titles, including Stone, Aria, Area 52, and M-Rex. Haberlin also served for two years as Editor-in-Chief of Todd McFarlane Productions and penciled and inked its flagship title, Spawn. He currently runs and teaches comic art at Minneapolis College of Art & Design. He is also a contributor to 3d World and ImagineFX magazine, and his work is in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian Museum.



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