Microsoft has always been inventive in the way it has extolled the virtues of HTML5 and Internet Explorer 9's abilities, but none more so than with The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator. Not only is this in-browser animated comic book interactive and dripping in high-definition graphics, but it's also been created by the esteemed pairing of director Edgar Wright and artist Tommy Lee Edwards.
Wright is well known for his inventiveness in film and TV, having amassed a highly impressive portfolio that includes Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Edwards is renowned in the comic book world, having worked on many top titles, including Batman, Daredevil and Jonathan Ross's Turf. So, with the complete creative control afforded them by the IE9 team, and their collective, undoubted talent they have come up with something extraordinary.
"I was approached to create a character and write something that people out on the internet can contribute to," Wright told Pocket-lint when we spoke to him in a one-to-one chat. "I thought that was an interesting idea. Also, Tommy Lee Edwards was already involved and I was a fan of his artwork.
"I had never actually written a comic, so I liked the idea of doing an online comic that adds a twist - people can throw in suggestions and contribute to the finished thing."
The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator, you see, is no mere animated short: you can take part yourself.
Episode one has just hit the net and is created entirely in HTML5, so runs within a browser. It has been designed to work best in Internet Explorer 9, but any browser should be able to give it a whirl.
The concept is quite simple. There's around seven minutes of the first part of the story you can watch for now, which introduces writer Brandon Generator. It's narrated by one half of The Mighty Boosh, Julian Barrett, and at the end you will be presented with several interactive elements, each offering ways to contribute products of your own creativity and, potentially, directly influence the next episode.
Without giving away plot spoilers, you can record a verbal message, sketch a monster on a pad, and write thoughts or even a whole storyline on Brandon's computer screen. Basically, there's something there for everyone.
All of the contributions are moderated by the IE9 team, with the most notable being sent to Wright and Edwards for possible inclusion in episode two, and so on and so forth. There are also social areas where a majority of the contributions can be seen or heard, and Microsoft has commissioned four episodes in total.
There are also other ways to interact with Brandon, using social media and even more-conventional means.
"There's Brandon's business card, which if you click on you'll see a telephone number you can call," we were told by Gabby Hegerty, Internet Explorer lead UK. "You can leave him a message. Brandon's also got a Twitter and Facebook page, so you can follow or 'like' him. And you can also call him via Skype."
Basically, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the world of Brandon Generator. Something that excites Wright.
"That's what I'm excited about," he said. "It'll be interesting to see what people come up with. It's completely up to people as to what they want to do; whether they want to be a character on his voicemail; whether they want to leave ideas on the dictaphone as Brandon; or write [something on his screen].
"I look forward to seeing what people come up with and look forward to figuring out ways of how to put those into the second episode," he said
Episode one of The Random Adventures of Brandon Generator, by Edgar Wright and Tommy Lee Edwards, is available online now. It is recommended (but not essential) that you watch it through IE9 at www.brandongenerator.com.
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