Midnight Rises, My Graphic Novel, Out NOW on iOS!

Today’s the day: Midnight Rises, my first ever graphic novel, is out today, for iOS devices, via a downloadable app. I wrote it, and Mike Choi illustrates it. It also includes music by Serj Tankian (System of a Down). The first chapter of the graphic novel is free, with the subsequent two chapters available in-app for just 99 cents (and for fans of Mike Choi’s fantastic artwork, alternate covers are available for $1.99). I’m super proud of it, and of the world it introduces, which will be further explored in the video game Midnight Star, which debuts very soon. But Midnight Rises doesn’t just introduce the characters and situations of Midnight Star — the choices you make as you read Rises influence what happens for you in the game.

You have questions. Let me answer them.

What’s going on in Midnight Rises?

It tells the story of Charlie Campbell, the character you will play as in Midnight Star, and the crew of the science vessel Joplin, who support Charlie and share their knowledge and skills with him. Before the events of the game, Charlie and the crew have another adventure — a race against time to solve a mystery involving the Joplin and a shadowy group that will stop at nothing to disrupt the ship’s mission… a mission that could change humanity’s understanding of its place in the universe.

Why is Midnight Rises its own app, and not in one of the online comics stores?

Because Midnight Rises was designed from the ground up to take advantage of the mobile computing interface and all the things it can do. We’re not just talking about “motion comics” — we looked at all the advantages the mobile platform could provide us for visual storytelling and baked that into how we designed the graphic novel. Which meant giving Midnight Rises its own app — its own environment to do everything it can do.

What do you mean that choices you make in the graphic novel influence the game?

This is one of those “capabilities of the mobile platform” things — In the story we’ve put places for you to explore and to make choices for Charlie Campbell. If you play Midnight Star, the game will talk to the graphic novel, see the choices and explorations you’ve made, and tweak things in the game to reflect those choices. There’s no downside to any exploration — you’re not penalized for one choice or another, including the choice to simply read through the story. It just means that when you play the game, it’s personalized for you. Which is kind of cool, and again, something that reflects that both the graphic novel and the game are built for the mobile experience, not just on phones and tablets.

Why make a graphic novel at all?

When we did the initial worldbuilding — me and Alex Seropian and Tim Harris and all the folks at Industrial Toys — we knew that we were creating more than we could put into the scope of a single mobile experience. The motto of Industrial Toys is “Mobile to the Core” — and we didn’t see why that motto had to be confined to video games. We wanted to give people more things to explore in this universe we created. So when we started developing the game, we also started developing the graphic novel. Which is to say one was not the offshoot of the other; they were developed concurrently, with each informing the development of the other.

Also, personally, I’d never done a graphic novel before, and so this was a chance to try something new, with folks who knew what they were doing. Mike Choi in particular has tons of experience in comics and graphic novels. There’s a special joy in working with people who are at the top of their games.

Do you have to read Midnight Rises to play Midnight Star?

Nope. We designed both Midnight Rises and Midnight Star to be unique standalone experiences. You don’t have to experience one to enjoy the other. That said, if you experience both, you know more about the universe we created, and the characters who live in it. Like I mentioned before, we did a lot of worldbuilding. I think you’ll have a blast exploring both the graphic novel and the game.

When will Midnight Star be available?

Soooooooooon. I’m waiting for clearance to tell you the exact date. But! Soon!

Any other thing you want to tell us about Midnight Rises?


One, that as a project I rank this right up there with one of my novels, in terms of its importance to me — this is something I’ve been working on for a couple of years now, with Mike and with the whole Industrial Toys crew, so finally having it out in the world is something that makes me very happy.

Two, if you have an iOS device, please download it and check it out! As noted, the first chapter is entirely free (and the two subsequent chapters are pretty cheap!) and the more people who download and experience it, the happier I will be.

Three, please feel free to tell every single person you know about it. It’s fun and it’s cool and I think people are going to love this story. Let them know! And thank you.

Four, it’s been an honor and a privilege working with the Mike, Alex, Tim and all of the Industrial Toys crew on the graphic novel, and also on the game (which I did a lot of work on too, but more on that… later). Midnight Rises is Industrial Toys’ official first release, and I’m delighted that something I wrote gets to carry the flag for the company. They’re good people.

So: Midnight Rises! Out now! Check it! And thanks.

58 Comments on “Midnight Rises, My Graphic Novel, Out NOW on iOS!”

  1. Before anyone asks:

    Android? Yes, sometime reasonably soon.

    (Also, please don’t turn the comment threat into grousing about one platform over another. I thank you in advance.)

    (And to the person whose comment I deleted because it asked this question before I popped this into the thread — no worries, I wasn’t annoyed with you, I just didn’t want it to look like you asked even after I gave the answer here.)

  2. When you download the app, can you buy the whole book at once, or do you have to buy it chapter by chapter?

    If you don’t get everything at once, do you have a release schedule for the chapters? Is there a date on which the whole book will be available in a single bundle?

  3. This is ridiculously cool… a high praise I rarely hand ou…ooh, look a ridiculously cool stain on the wall that looks like the Virgin Mary. Err… well, okay. Maybe it’s not the Mew-Two of rare compliments, but it’s a good one.

    Get this on Android post-haste. Please?

  4. I’m excited to read and play these, and I have two questions:

    Will the additional chapters be standalone apps or DLC in the first chapter app? I’m guessing the latter.

    When released for android, will all the chapters that have been released for iOS at that point be released all at once?

  5. In the first paragraph, you say that Midnight Star will be available [Deleted because I spoke too soon — JS]. In the Q&A section, you say you’re waiting for clearance to reveal the release date.

  6. Answers to questions:

    JDF: Mistake on my part although it will be soon. I expect to have clearance to talk about it later today.

    Dave Branson/DonWhiteside: Three chapters total, available in-app.

    Beth: Not everyone is white, no.

    Rick: You buy each chapter rather than all at once, but it’s all in-app so it’s simple to do.

  7. This is cool news! Looking forward to the Android release!

    How different was writing a graphic novel (especially one that is interactive) compared to a regular novel, from a writing process standpoint? Was it fun, intimidating, or both to have some additional creative tools?

    I am very eager to see a Scalzian story told in this medium, and I’m also a Mike Choi fan, so the whole project is doubly cool to me. Despite not being a FPS fan (my creaky 44-year-old reflexes means that my 12 year old effortlessly destroys me in Call of Duty when we play), I’m looking forward to playing the game, too.

  8. I’m pleased to see more of the cover – when I saw the segment the other day, I was slightly put off as there was only the guy and he seemed a bit grim, but not only is he now visibly half-smiling, there is also a woman in the picture and what seems like a person of colour in the spacesuit behind. It really does help to have the whole picture! Android user here so will wait.

  9. Will buying or not buying the chapters effect the game or how the game is played since it’s interactive? I’ll probably do both but I’m curious. Is the game a one time purchase or subscription?

  10. Geoff K:

    The game will play the same, but you’ll have access to some stuff at the start. Also the game is free to play with optional in-game purchases.

  11. I have a cell phone but it does not do apps. Ditto to uleguehub’s query. What exactly is iOS?

  12. Whoohoo! Downloaded and started reading. My poor husband only has an android phone so he’ll have to wait. Snicker.

    I have one comment and one question. The text is pretty small on my iPhone 4S – I assume this is not customizable since I see no “options” or “settings” menu. I’m guessing that it might obscure too much of the picture if the text were made larger and that this is the reason for the small text sizing. And now the question: do you have a mechanism for the grammar police to point out errors? :)

    Very excited about this! Thanks!

  13. Gary, iOS is the operating system that runs on Apple mobile devices, which would be the iPhone and iPad models. Android is the smartphone operating system that runs on almost everything else.

  14. Apologies if this is my second post (I had to rest my password so I don’t know if my first attempt went through).

    iTunes shows that Midnight Star has been available since around mid last year. Seems very odd!?! Thought you’d like to check that. It’s even got a couple of reviews.

    PS. Presume this post (and previous) will be deleted if necessary.

  15. Not here to say the “A” word, but I feel weird like I’m letting you down somehow that I can’t support you on your release day (or as a pre-order). I’ve been known to take days in May off and stay up all night when a new book of yours drops. I am a loyal fan for sure and wish you great success on this effort. I’ll be there with my dollars ready whenever it is ported. “Whatever” number of sales you get, just know there are lots of folks out there still who will support your work. I can’t imagine sales for this will be low, but there are more coming. Can’t wait and glad to see Midnight Rises is out.

  16. @ Donna Leonard: “Shhh! I’m busy reading this cool new graphic novel I just downloaded to my iPad, called, ‘Midnight Rises.'”

    That thing is so three hours ago. All the cool people are getting ready for the release of “Midnight Star”. You won’t have heard of it…

  17. iharvster:

    The game game had a “soft release” in certain countries (Like Ireland and the Philippines) so we could see what real world players thought needed to be tweaked before wider release.

  18. @iharvster: Where are you located? they did a “soft launch” (live beta test) in Ireland and a few other countries.

  19. Okay, but now for the REAL issue. Does this go in my Games folder, or my Books folder? Shoot…

  20. Stick it in Games – you can argue it’s just a really elaborate opening cutscene…

  21. Sadly, until this comes down for a Kindle or my desktop (or dead tree), I will be unable to read it. I have no tablet.

  22. If you don’t mind, John, I’m going to post my question again from the last “Midnight Rises” entry – only because I’m really curious about your writing process on this project!

    Did you have to adjust/design the pacing of the story knowing that people would be reading it by swiping frame by frame? Did this change how you approached the story?

  23. Always the odd one out, I have to ask: Any plans to make it available on Windows devices? Either Windows phone, A Windows Store app, or a regular windows application (eg via Steam)?

  24. Trying to decide whether to just bite the bullet and download it to my iPhone now, or wait until my husband gets home with his iPad so I can enjoy it on a larger screen. Eh, it’s probably worth waiting….


  25. Get your own joke, Lurkertype!

    (I was going to originally reference a TRS-80, but then I’d have to spend forever explaining to most here what that actually was)

  26. Trying not to spoil here, but I’ve got a question. A certain character was allowed to graduate from a famous military school, but denied a commission in the military. Yet that individual is referred to as a 2nd Lieutenant (and as an Ensign in others: another inconsistency), i.e., a commissioned officer.
    Can you help resolve this seeming contradiction? I’ve read Chapter 1, and will be getting 2 and 3 today: perhaps it is explained elsewhere?

  27. Got it. Read it. Liked both art and story rather much. Well done!

    While your snappy writing style was fully evident, it still read like a graphic novel, not like a novel with pictures. What were the biggest changes you made in adapting to that form?

    It was interesting that you were able to cover so much ground, story-wise, with such economy of words. Clearly, you used the art to help tell the story. When you were writing the scenes and characters, how much did you envision their appearance? Did you provide any direction to Mike, written or verbal, especially for the action?

  28. I read it last night. Love the writing, and I think you made excellent use of the interactivity inherent in the platform (wow that sounded like managerspeak!).

    It was definitely a graphic novel, but felt sufficiently game-like that I was expecting an arcade sequence to start at one point (first scene in the armory).

  29. Is anyone else having issues with the in-app purchases? I haven’t been able to get access to chapters 2 and 3.

  30. The app offered me chapter two for free if I posted it on Facebook, so I got that. (Yeah, I’ll whore my FB wall for .99.) When I purchased chapter 3, it gave me some static about PayPal wasn’t allowed on my device. I could see in my PayPal account that the purchase went through, but the app didn’t acknowledge it. However, when I clicked the “buy” button again, it told me I had already bought it, and asked if I wanted to download again. I did, and the chapter opened up.

  31. Is “Midnight Rises” on Goodreads.com? I couldn’t find it.

    Read it; liked it; wanted to rate it there.

  32. John, I know you’re on a boat so it may be a while before you see this. That said, I really enjoyed the first chapter of Midnight Rises, except for one panel. Being forced to execute the cliche “male gaze” pan up Dr. T’s legs and ass *really* threw me. It threw me out of the story and reminded me that I was…consuming media with a target audience. And my “are you serious right now” feeling as I realized where that pan was going was a real turn off. It could be explained as C’s perspective, but that’s pretty weaksauce, especially when the user has to execute it.

    Other than that one moment, it had me engaged all the way through. Maybe that’s why it sticks out so much. Anyway, looking forward to the next chapters once I can get the iPad back from my toddler. :)


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