Comics Studios Pencil United Launches Digital Comics App
Atmospheric, enigmatic and magical, Pencil United‘s digital native graphic drama series Northern Souls follows the quest of a young man, suspected of having schizophrenia, to find his identity in Europe’s last wilderness, Swedish Lappland, at the same time as WW2 reaches northern Scandinavia. The first episode of the interactive touchscreen reading experience is now available for download, exclusively through the Pencil United app which can be retrieved from the App Store for all Retina iPads.
The series’ main character Mielat, as the strange voices inside his head call him, is contained and tormented by the fact that he doesn’t remember who he is or where he comes from. Everything before the point where he found a peculiar piece of bone with metal pendants is black. With the twisted logic of the mentally ill, he believes that the artefact will lead him to the answers while the voices keep insisting that he has a hidden calling. As a result of a life-threatening flight, Mielat is reluctantly joined by a female German Red Cross doctor. Gradually it is revealed that the rational and determined woman, named Elke, has an agenda of her own but also that the two wanderers’ destinies are mysteriously entwined.
Northern Souls is aimed at a broad adult readership and is full of complex and charismatic characters. In addition to the adventure’s dramatic action the story also holds existential, ethical and political dilemmas. The time period during which the drama is set, right at the beginning of the 1940s, is not just the starting point for the progressive welfare state in Sweden but also the start of the atomic age and the series deals with themes such as the soul and materialism.
The publisher sees themselves as similar to HBO when it comes to original comics focusing on a few carefully chosen in-house produced high quality series in different genres. Going beyong repurposed print, Pencil United has decided to cultivate and enhance interactivity and closeness by adding touch-the-panels navigation, dynamic dual-layer full screen graphics, slideshows, panning widescreen images and info hotspots, in order to create an intimate digital native experience unlike anything else on the market. By focusing on this, the company hopes to reach a broad audience that is interested in modern comics culture and a digital experience.
As a part of Pencil United’s belief in the power of stories and the importance of education, creativity and humanism for development in the world, the studio has decided that for each and every downloaded issue through the Pencil United app they will buy five pencils from UNICEF who will distribute them to schools all over the world.