Against the Grain. A transmedia comic experience

Sector Transmedia
Target Users Comic Publishing industry who want to test or produce enhanced content and/ or Audiovisual production companies looking for great content to adapt to a new format
Country Spain
Dimension International
Nature of the initiative Private
Contact Madelón Lánchez
CEO - Business Development Manager
+ 34 916432109


The app Against the Grain bundles the entire Against the Grain comic series into an on line store and offers readers a totally immersive experience by blending static artwork and incredible two-dimensional and three-dimensional animations. The app also allows users to preview new issues before purchasing and watch animated trailers so they know exactly what they are going to get.

Against the Grain was originally conceived as a printed physical graphic novel product. Created and auto-published by Erica Austin (Slightly Off Productions, LLC), it was launched in 2012 (BEA 2012).

Leslie, the heroine of Against the Grain, is a tomboy with a vivid and wild imagination. An outcast of sorts, she is a free spirit coming to terms with herself, the world around her, and the world in her head.

With a target audience aimed at teens to young adults, Leslie’s ongoing saga is captured in two current volumes, available as an app, with many more to come.

While marketing the printed version, the author received positive feedback but also the request to have access to these stories in a digital format. As a result Erica dedicated more than 2 years selecting and working with an international and talented team of professionals (from illustrators to animators, musicians, sound fx producer, voice talents and app development technicians), in order to produce the best enhanced production she could. The result of her efforts is a an app (availbale on the App Store) where readers can access all her comics.

She was also looking for a combination of audiovisual elements that really contributes to enhance the reader experience, and she found her way using these elements to better distinguish between Leslie’s real world and her imaginaries worlds.

The result of this approach is a “classical” digital comic reading experience when the story takes place in her real world and an enhanced motion comic when Leslie starts to live in her imaginaries worlds.

Motion 2D animations mantain the comic structure. This traditional comic structure is a strength of this product because comics fans love the idea to still having a comic look and feel reading experience but enhanced with audiovisual elements. On the other hand, 3D animations offer a completely different point of view to the story.

In both cases, the reader can choose between either experiences: reading a classic page-by-page or enjoying the enhanced version at any time, giving them the option to experience the stories in different ways.

Against the grain

This project offers the opportunity to create new content using the same original elements (illustration, storyline and soundtrack): videogames, cartoons, animations, TV or Web series, interactive fiction, physical games, etc.  It can also easily be adapted to other languages.

Magic Tales is in charge of the whole soundtrack production (music and sound fx production and postproduction) and also is helping the author to spread the world about the content, looking for other Publishers that may wish to take advantage of this production and it final product, launching it in their own markets.

Magic Tales has also created a new whole enhanced comic production service, in order to help other comic publishers to produce this kind of content and products.

Business needs

Identifying possible growth markets for this product (Against the Grain):

  • testing the concept of an “enhanced motion comic” with publishers that have a backlist and catalogue of comics and graphic novels and are looking to test high quality products such as Against the Grain within their market to gauge the level of interest this type of adaptation could have;
  • rolling out Against the Grain in different formats (animated series – TV, web series – cinema, games, videogames, etc.);
  • developing the storyline with new plots based on secondary characters.

Adapting the “graphic novel” content  from printed to digital form:

  • outlining the best use of audiovisual elements in order to provide an enriched reading experience;
  • identifying and selecting a multidisciplinary team able to roll out the final product.


Against the Grain offers the opportunity to test the product concept in specific market with a significantly reduced cost when compared to producing a completely new enhanced comic. The interested publisher would need to invest in translation, voice recording and minimal content adaptation plus new app publishing, but they will not be required to invest in a storyline, user experience design or illustration development, nor in sound fxs and music production. This means the publisher could dedicate most of the financial resources this collection launch requires for communication and marketing actions.

Using Against the Grain as a “beta-test” product will provide a clear idea of consumer behaviour. This product is a powerful tool to evaluate, trace and study the product sales of a product with transmedia and multimedia enhanced content. Against the Grain will test eMotion Comics sales traction.

Furthermore, showcasing content in different formats increases the options for the publisher to find alternative revenues for their content. There are many creative business that require original material to develop their products such as TV programmes, webseries, toys, etc.

eMotion Comics offers to publishers a variety of digital services such as:

  • illustration (original and adaptation from plain illustration to layers, required for animation);
  • 2D and 3D enhanced animation production;
  • voice castings and recording;
  • sound fx production;
  • music composition, orchestration and production;
  • apps or e-books technology production;
  • project management and consulting (from producing a complete product from scratch to solely providing support at one specific stage in the content adaptation process).
  • helping Publishers to adapt their content to different transmedia options and new market opportunities.

The role of technology

The app Against the Grain includes a bookcase app that allows the following features:

  • previews of some pages of content within a comic app prior to purchase;
  • display and viewing options, allowing the reader to choose between the classic comic version (page by page without animation) or the enriched content version that includes a soundtrack;
  • 2D and 3D animation, including the possibility of video within the app, i.e. the animated parts of the product that are not interactive (the inclusion of interactive content is contemplated but increases the cost of production);
  • inserting individual trailers for each comic;
  • displaying thumbnail images of each page in order to move from one page to another;
  • developing marketing campaigns that integrate a system of promotional codes that allows free downloads via such codes displayed on blogs and other media forums, thus permitting tracking of end-user engagement with the product.


The iPad version of the app was launched in April 2015, supported by a publicity campaign based on interviews with the author on various websites between April and June 2015.

Focus group tests carried out prior to and after the launch of Against the Grain show that the target audience for this style of content is male children aged between 9 - 12 years old who want to read content on a mobile device (iPhone and Android mobile devices).

Although results have not led to the product reaching top iPad sales ranks, the launch has served the purpose of making the collection, the main personality and some of the secondary characters visible.

Furthermore, production companies have expressed an interest in developing an animated series based on secondary characters that exist in Leslie’s imaginary world.

At the moment the author is in the process of launching a version of Against the Grain for the iPhone (expected launch date: February 2016). Volumes 3 & 4 of the Against the Grain collection are also scheduled to be launched as well as a spin-off based on some of the secondary characters that have charmed readers thus far.

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