The first of ten scheduled chapters, "Prologue" is an original introduction to Candy Cunningham. The girl is a captivating eighteen-year-old with a cannon for an arm. Her knack for the sport of New Baseball, here in the year 2172, can be traced to numerous places: notably her old school father, Gordy, and the media-saturated bleacher seats of Tao City. In Bottom of the Ninth, Candy finally earns a shot to step into the big league. But is a handful of talent and a love of the game enough to overcome New Baseball's unique celebrity, superfluous violence, and unprecedented commercialization?
Bottom of the Ninth, an independent production, is both an animated film and a comic book. Developed as an application for Apple's iPad tablet device ($3.99), the publication invokes animated sequences with just about each and every panel. In this title, characters do more than slide across the visible plane; they pop in and out of frame, interacting with the page's available story elements.
Once Candy steps onto the field, the impressions are clear: some fans are shocked, others are anxious, some are furious, and yet others are lovestruck. "Just go put that sweet heat on and make them eat their words," her father says, "It's just like playing in the backyard."
In truth, however, New Baseball is nothing like playing catch in the backyard. New Baseball is more of a gladiator sport, with scrums for fly balls and a corporate-sponsored anti-gravity effect eliciting the most oohs and aahs of Tao City's immense stadium. The sport's legends are enshrined in massive statues at the city gates and its current heroes are obligated to sign an "identity control agreement," waiving all rights to their public image. Candy's going to need to be made of much firmer stuff if she's going to navigate this graphic, futuristic sport, both on and off the field. More fatherly advice? "Take it easy. Just don't kill the batter on your first pitch in the league."
Woodward's affection for comics, cartoons, and baseball takes many forms in Bottom of the Ninth. The graphic novel features liquid character animation and generously reflects an urban 1920's and 30's sports atmosphere. The project also uses an original musical score, professional voice-over artists, and an accomplished expansion of traditional comic book page composition.
Additional 'Bottom of the Ninth' News:
"An Interview with Ryan Woodward" at Cartoon Brew.com