For sheer ambition, the most impressive new comics work seen on the BEA floor last week was Anomaly, an independently produced new work scheduled for release in October co-created by Hollywood super lawyer and film dealmaker Skip Brittenham and artist/co-writer Brian Haberlin. The book is published by a new independent firm, also called Anomaly, that was created with the help of former Random House and Workman executive Bruce Harris.

Anomaly is an oversized (10” x 15”) 370 page full-color painted hardcover graphic novel, a sprawling science-fiction saga about a corporate space mission that goes deeply awry. The book combines an epic, richly illustrated story with action and adventure in a vivid and encyclopedically imagined world of human and alien encounter in the far future. The print work is also accompanied by equally ambitious digital releases, including an Augmented Reality app and an interactive edition of the print work that allows the user to experience the book in a variety of media. The book will be priced at $75 and will have an 18,000 copy first printing along with a 1,000 copy deluxe hardcover collectors edition. Distribution will be by Ingram Publisher Services.

Haberlin acknowledged that traditional publishers were wary of the book’s scale and ambitious production plans, so they decided to publish independently. The book’s publishing infrastructure was created by Brittenham with the help of Harris, who is acting as publishing consultant to the project. Harris, who has worked as consultant since retiring, said they approached traditional publishers, but they were only interested in pieces of the project, “so we put together a business structure to publish the book.” Harris said “B&N had a great reaction to the book and Ingram reps say small stores are interested. It’s something new.”

The digital side is equally ambitious. The AR app will turn an iPhone or iPad into a AR viewer that will bring animated holographic imagery to life on pages throughout the book. The viewer will be able to see holographic alien creatures rise up from the page and respond to a user’s touch on the screen, 3D renditions of space craft and other animated technology move across the page and can be manipulated and the viewer can activate a wide variety of detailed information about the world of Anomaly. In addition Anomaly will also be released as an interactive edition that will allow the user to read the book as a straight graphic novel on iPad, or experience it as a kind of semi-movie, animated in parts and brought to life by over 16 live voice actors recreating the dialog and events of the graphic novel. And if all that weren’t enough, the book is also in development as a live action feature film by Joe Roth, director of the film Freedomland and producer of the film Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp.

In an interview on the exhibition floor at BEA, Haberlin, known his work at Top Cow, Marvel and DC, said he and Brittenham, who is co-writer on the book and said to be a big comics fan, have worked on the project for three years. Retailers look to be enthusiastic over the work and Haberlin reports it got a great reception from retailers at C2E2 in Chicago. Haberlin said the book will feature “strong female characters,” that it was “deeply researched” and the interactive features and special effects will be “in service to the book’s story.”

Harris also emphasized that the content, not necessarily the bells and whistles, will attract readers. “We know comics book readers are actually older than people think and are looking for a great reading experience. That’s the difference. They’re dying for something that’s never been done before.”