Love him or hate him, The Telegraph's Alex carton strip, the city worker and would be again yuppie, is surviving well despite the global financial crisis.
The insightful work of Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, the strip first appeared in the short-lived London Daily News in 1987, before moving to The Independent later that year and then to the Daily Telegraph in 1992.
As well as a Daily Telegraph strips, Alex cartoons are collected into annual best-selling volumes, which are great Christmas stocking fillers for the city banker in your life.
Now Alex is available on the iPhone, hopefully not a yuppie accessory for the 21st century, and iPod touch courtesy of iPhone developers Tapisodes.
Tapisodes creates episodic entertainment for people on the move, using a unique combination of animation, technology and user interaction. Alex is the first of a series of Tapisodes mobile comics planned.
Macworld caught up with Rita Cabral of Tapisodes to find out a little more about the developer and the Alex application.
Q. With Alex you already had a well know comic brand, how do you get the word out to Alex fans about the iPhone application?
Alex has a loyal following on his Facebook page, and via the www.alexcartoon.com website and mailing list, so through these, and also through The Telegraph.
Q. Have The Telegraph helped promoted the iPhone application in any way?
Absolutely. They've been running an ad next to the column everyday in print and online, this is the best way to reach our fans, so far it’s been working.
Q. You made it into the UK Entertainment Top 50 iPhone Apps charts. How do you keep the momentum going after the initial launch buzz?
Yes, we were at number 18 last week, and are still doing well. The ad appearing daily by the strip has helped us, and word of mouth has been increasing traffic to our site to watch the trailer.
Q. Do you think Alex is essentially a UK specific application or does it have wider appeal?
Alex the comic strip is syndicated around the world already, from Germany to Hong Kong, Australia to the US. The stage play also had a sold out tour around Asia last year, so Alex has already proven itself abroad. In terms of this App, we've chosen comic strips that have quite a broad appeal and in the last year the credit crunch has become a global issue, it’s on everyone's minds. That combined with the humanity of Alex's character, make the humour and themes ones that are pretty much universally identifiable.
Q. Is it available in other iTunes App Stores?
We initially made the App available only in the UK, as it was sponsored by the Daily Telegraph. We're now looking into other AppStores, as we've had a lot of requests from abroad to make it available elsewhere.
Q. Alex is described as the "first (proper) interactive mobile motion comic," how so?
We've been looking, over the last year, to create a dynamic comic experience using the iPhone technology. We wanted to do something more than scan and stick pages out of a graphic novel, but still retain that experience of interaction with the material. There have been various attempts to harness comics for the iPhone, and a few which have looked to make them interactive or somehow animated. Tapisodes stand out as being more intuitive for an iPhone user, the animation and illustration is beautiful quality, and through tapping forward, you are bringing the characters to life.
Q. And was it difficult to achieve?
Once we had come up with the design and concept, we worked with TAG games to build the technology behind it. It’s patent pending now, as we feel we've developed something special.
Q. Will we see more Alex strips brought to life on the iPhone?
Yes, we hope so. This was an initial trial run, a month special for the Telegraph, but there is a large treasure trove of Alex back catalogue, and many more brilliant ideas in the heads of Russell and Charles. This App will stay available on the AppStore, and we are looking now at new ways to continue bringing Alex to the iPhone.
Q. And finally, what about future plans for Tapisodes?
Lots of plans in the works, we're talking to potential partners from the graphic novel, tv and film worlds about new series. Just keep checking the www.tapisodes.com website.
(Available from the Apple iTunes App Store, Alex costs 59p and requires the iPhone 3.0 Software Update or later.)