Just in time for Bloomsday on June 16, Throwaway Horse, the company behind Ulysses Seen, the Web comics adaptation of James Joyce’s 20th century literary masterpiece Ulysses, will update the Web Comic with “Calypso,” the 54-page fourth chapter of the novel that introduces the main character Leopold Bloom. The company will update the iPad app a bit later and it has also just released its second iPad app, a comics adaptation of T. S. Eliot’s classic poem, The Wasteland ($9.99), created by British cartoonist Martin Rowson.
Created by artist Rob Berry and launched online in June of last year, Ulysses Seen is Throwaway Horse’s initial effort at using comics, online and digital technology and an accessible, information-packed reader’s guide, to “foster the understanding of public domain literary masterworks.” In addition to Ulysses and The Wasteland, Throwaway Horse is also at work adapting Age of Bronze, cartoonist Eric Shanower’s acclaimed graphic retelling of Homer’s The Iliad and the Trojan War. TH is turning AOB into a full-color Web comic (the print serials and book collection are black and white) and an iPad app. The Age of Bronze Web comic will likely launch by the Fall and will be full-color and released as a serial in installments of about 20 pages and supplemented with maps, chronologies and, like all Throwaway Horse comics adaptations, an accessible reader's guide to the work created by a literary scholar.
After some initial controversy when the Ulysses Seen app was rejected because it depicted nudity, Apple relented and Ulysses Seen can be read both online and via a free iPad app. The website and app launched last year with Telemachus, Ulysses’s 68 page first chapter, and the website has been serializing the Calypso chapter (about 29 pages have been posted) and eventually will add the full chapter, which will also eventually go in the Ulysses Seen iPad app. While the reader’s guide for theTelemachus chapter was created by Joyce scholar Mike Barsanti, the Calypso chapter’s reader’s guide has been created by another Joyce scholar, Janine Uttell. Berry said that while they are following Ulysses chronologically, in this case they are adding the Calypso chapter out of sequence in order to introduce the Bloom character, “The hope being, is that it shows more parallels between the characters.”
Throwaway Horse has just launched its second iPad app, an interpretation of T.S. Eliot’s masterwork, The Wasteland, adapted by cartoonist Martin Rowson which was originally published in print more than 20 years ago. Unlike the Ulysses Seen app, which is free, The Wasteland app will sell for $9.99. Berry said the pricing is “a test of the marketplace. Ulysses Seen is free because it’s being serialized and it has to be developed over time. But Rowson’s The Wasteland is a completed work and it will give us a chance to see the market and what pricing should be." He said "we’re looking at the educational market. We want an affordable price point comparable to what’s in print. This is a great educational tool."
Throwaway Horse has reformatted the work to turn Rowson’s highly interpretive comics adaptation into an iPad app and like all of its comics adaptations, it will be supported by a reader’s guide, in this instance created by Barsanti, who also created the Ulysses Seen reader’s guide. Central to their online and app publishing model, Throwaway Horse’s reader’s guides provide well-researched accessible and conversational commentary about each page of these classic and often difficult works and provide historical context and explanations of the action and language on every page. When The Wasteland app is read in landscape mode it allows the viewer to read the comic on the left side of the screen while the reader’s guide is displayed on the right hand side.
While Berry said that the Ulysses Seen website will have the complete Calypso chapter posted online by Bloomsday on June 16, he said it will likely take Bunsen Tech, the company developing the Throwaway Horse apps, until nearly July to finish the coding and add the chapter to the app. Berry said the development team is also adding discussion forums, which will be integrated into the app platform like social media and allow readers to connect across all the Throwaway Horse apps to make comments and respond. “A reader will be able to jump from the Wasteland to UIysses Seen and interact with each page of the books and with each other,” said Berry. Indeed, the final version of the apps will include “sound and video files built directly into the app for a more multimedia approach,” he said.
Berry also said that Throwaway Horse is continuing plans to release its Web comics and apps in print editions. While the firm announced a tentative publication deal with Atlas Books last summer at the San Diego Comic-con, Berry said that deal is no longer on the table and the firm continues “to talk with a variety of publishers,” about a print edition of Ulysses Seen. In addition as Bloomsday approaches, Berry and Barsanti will give a talk about the creation of Ulysses Seen on June 15 in Philadelphia entitled “The Art of Ulysses: Adapting Joyce’s Novel into Other Media: A Bloomsday Eve Artists Talk,” at Plays and Players, which will coincide with the run of playwright Patrick Fitzgerald’s Gibraltar, a dramatic retelling of the marriage of Leopold and Molly Bloom.