Ezra Daniel’s Sci-Fi Upgrade Soul gets a Digital Upgrade

19 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Ezra Claytan Daniels‘ digital comic Upgrade Soul is literally getting an upgrade. This version of the 3D comic will relaunch on October 25th with the more content. The original release was never complete. When considering how often the graphics engine has improved over time, perhaps the effects will truly leap at readers. The ‘free’ version offers chapter one for all to read, and for the remainder of October, the entire digital comic can be unlocked for $6.99 USD. On November 1, the price will increase by $1.

The haunting soundtrack from Alexis Gideon gives the reading experience a unique pleasure. The compositions truly add to the atmosphere because it’s in sync with the narrative. FPE Records vinyl release makes for a terrific side-journey for those nights when all folks want is a little ambience for the Halloween season. If you like Goblin, then this album is for you! Two versions are available for purchase: a regular black and a limited edition run on translucent orange, with red markings and a signed print by Daniels. Of the latter, only 100 copies will be released worldwide.

This digital comic about an elderly couple who volunteer themselves for an experimental scientific procedure intended to rejuvenate their aging bodies has its moments. When the procedure goes horribly wrong, creating physically disfigured but intellectually superior clones of the couple, the scientists, the couple, and their clones must grapple with existential questions of morality—with very real consequences. The book is a profound meditation on identity, and the ways society imposes restrictions based on our age, gender, race and perceived disabilities.

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For those wanting a paper version, a trade paperback exists–but who really wants that? Yes, readers can listen to the music separately, and other attempts to unite music with the visual narrative led to various degrees to success. With horror, sound is important! Artist/musician Menton3 separate release of music to accompany his comic Monocyte is an example of one such attempt.

It’s also very rare to find 3D effects done right, and requiring no special glasses. The iOS version makes use of a simple parallax effect for the illusion. As for whether digital comics can be AR capable or be presented in VR space for its 3D effects, are we ready for it?

“Erik Loyer’s interactive web-based science fiction story called Chroma was a game changer for digital storytelling,” said Daniels. “Stylish and thoughtful, it showed a path for digital interactivity to push the boundaries of the comics form even further. I sent Erik a gushing fan letter about Chroma and that led to the UPGRADE SOUL app.

“It released seven years ago–ahead of its time–and helped pioneer digital comics tech which is now in use in games, apps, and on the web,” said Loyer. “Now technology has caught up and enabled us to finish the project as we originally intended, with the rich interactive score, 3D picture-box effects, and seamless navigation that makes the experience so immersive. There’s a reason why we put it on the App Store in the ‘Entertainment’ category—it’s not an ‘enhanced’ version of a print graphic novel, it’s its own unique thing.”

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