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Fanbase Press Interviews Rob Shields on the Recent Release of the Augmented Reality Comic Book Series, ‘End of the World Pizza’

The following is an interview with Rob Shields regarding the recent release of the augmented reality comic book series, End of the World Pizza (EWP). In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Shields about the creative process of bringing the transmedia story to life, how is experience with the format has evolved with each new AR project, and more!



Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of End of the World Pizza! For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the book’s premise and its transmedia format?

Rob Shields: Thanks so much! End of the World Pizza (EWP) is an augmented reality comic book that invites its reader to become the central character of an interactive narrative set in a cyber noir universe. The story is brought to life with cover-to-cover animation, a dark synthwave soundtrack, and built-in arcade-style video games.

In EWP, the reader plays a detective hunting a serial killer inside an artificial reality, where AI has stolen everyone’s face. The book can be read like a traditional 40-page physical comic book, but to unlock all the secrets that the story offers, the reader must download the free AR companion app which allows them to step into the shoes of the detective and try to catch the killer before the world ends.

BD: What can you share with us about the reader’s experience as they navigate the detective story?

RS: The AR app turns the reader’s smart device into a scanner that lets them unlock clues throughout the story. They can dox certain characters to learn more about them, collect items at the crime scene, make choices that affect future issues, and play mini games that reveal more about the end of the world. There are 6 hidden pages, 3 hidden covers, 2 playable mini games, and over 40 achievements to unlock in the first issue.

BD: How would you describe the creative process of bringing this story to life?

RS: The story creation process is unique in that the AR app allows readers to vote on certain plot points in each issue. The most popular choices become canon in the following issues. Think of it like an on-rails, choose-your-own-adventure story, where all the choices matter and there are never any wrong answers that make you go backward. The story will reach its natural conclusion no matter what but you can nudge it a bit in one or two different directions. This lets me involve the reader without derailing the momentum of the story and without sacrificing a satisfying story arch that has one true ending.


BD: Given that this is your third AR comic book series, what takeaways have you experienced from your work, and do you see the format or process changing in the future with new projects?

RS: Because tech changes so rapidly, both the format and process will continue to evolve over time. In some ways, these stories are already ahead of their time, meaning that I see them eventually being told without the need for a smart phone. Some day soon, they will work through AR glasses with the reader’s eyes and hands acting as the interface. Such tech already exists; it’s just not widely distributed.

Having the smart phone as the window to the AR world is somewhat limiting, but it also can offer some benefits like acting as a control pad when the comic temporarily transforms into a video game. At the end of the day, I am always looking for new ways to add interactivity without sacrificing the traditional comic reading experience. For me, books have always been magical devices that unlock hidden worlds. This is the spirit that I try to capture through AR storytelling which means knowing what to add and what to leave out.

BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?

RS: I’ve got another 40-page AR comic finished that I’ll be releasing with musical group Lost Souls of Saturn, but the release date is still TBD. I’m also working on my first interactive art book which will feature more cutting-edge AR features and a new story loosely based on my experience with Microsoft who attempted to steal my trademarked brand Neon Wasteland in 2021. Keep an eye out for that in 2024.

BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about End of the World Pizza?

RS: Visit EndoftheWorldPizza.com to learn more about the comic and try out a free demo of the app. Thanks so much for the interview!

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief

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