After spending 35 years as a traditional publisher, John Denison now has a taste for the brave new world of publishing. On January 1st, 2012, he will launch his ambitious Occam’s Razor – a free online serial that will release a chapter a day for 120 days. What makes Occam’s Razor unique is the call for artists all over the world to upload artwork to illustrate the story.The story begins when wealthy Chester Newport, creator of the Occam’s Razor comic books, starring the world’s most famous female super-hero Major Occam, dives into his pool and disappears. Three months later his daughter Veronica desperate to find her father puts on her Major Occam uniform and dives into the pool. Just like her father she’s transported into the comic book world where both she and the real Major Occam try their best to rescue Chester Newport from the clutches of the Truly Evil Prince of Darkness. What ensues is both funny and suspenseful.
Denison originally had the idea of publishing the story as a book but soon wondered if the online world wasn’t the better way to go. This led Denison to hire Forsefield to design a powerful online world for his fictional characters to inhabit, with downloadable apps, video games, and personalized content that reaches out to the new generation of readers.
There isn’t a contemporary idea that isn’t open for discussion, and every day the team comes up with new and interesting ways to bring the book’s story and characters to the public. For a great example see Occam’s Lazer, a free game available from itunes featuring characters from the book. The game, which is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices running iOS 4.2 or later, is rated 9+ for:
- Infrequent/Mild Horror/Fear Themes
- Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
This striving for innovation led Denison to one of the project’s most innovative aspects. Denison has put out an open call for artists to sign-up to the site (it’s free) and upload their illustrations of his story for possible inclusion in the final published title. It is a worldwide invitation using the unique technology and crowdsourcing philosophy of the Internet in order to expand his book beyond the text.
And contributions are not limited to illustrations either. Denison stresses that artists are encouraged to upload their music, videos, games, etc., just as long as they contribute to the growing Occam’s Razor universe. Anything, really, that adds to the story will be welcome. He is also looking for budding audio book readers to record their readings of the book to be released as an Occam’s Razor audio book.
Artists can read the chapters 5 days in advance of their release to the public. It is a short deadline, but the whole experience is meant to be fun, exciting and creative for everyone involved.
And as there are a whopping 120 chapters in total the Open Call and project will be spread over 4 months, each day featuring more and more content for participants and readers to view. The site will also function as a sort of hub where those working on the book can exchange ideas and illustrations.
Denison hopes to get at least 10 pieces of artwork for every chapter. After all is said and done he will pick the best art and print a hard copy. Eventually the book will also be available as an ebook and through Print on demand. Denison also sees this part of the project as an opportunity for innovation. With so much material coming in, and so many folks involved, there is room for customization and personalization that is not possible with traditional publishing.
Plans are afoot to find a way for customers to customize each purchase. Buyers will be able to choose which of the illustrations they would like illustrating the text of their book. Contributing artists can also make a book featuring their art alone, sort of a calling card advertising their abilities as illustrators.