Those updates include:
- Although only BOOM! and Top Cow have been announced so far, Hoseley said seven publishers have signed on for the launch, and the other five will be announced in the next few weeks leading up to the San Diego Comic Con.
- The software will include a “Manga Mode” that flips the left-to-right reading order. That’s pretty damn clever.
- The software will also allow for “age-restricted sub-accounts,” so your kids can read the Muppets but can’t get to your Black Kiss comics.
- Hoseley says that “while we certainly welcome DC and Marvel’s participation, the entire system was designed to have a business model that would be successful and profitable for all involved if they chose not to participate.”
There’s more at the link, so click over and read. This gets more interesting by the day …
It may never replace print, but the iPod Touch is starting to emerge as a pretty good platform for comics, at least in the short term. It has several advantages over the Kindle—it has color, the graphics are nice and sharp, and a lot of people have iPods anyway for other reasons. For readers who value portability, it’s a handy alternative to carrying around a stack of books, and even purchased chapter by chapter, comics are generally cheaper in the iTunes store than in print form. A handful, such as Yoshitoshi ABe’s Pochiyama, are only available that way.
At the moment, most of the comics available for the iPod are print comics that have been adapted to the new format, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Overall, it’s a different type of reading experience, and with the right comic and good formatting, it can be as good as or even better than reading the print version.
Webcomics | Corinna Bechko, one of the co-creators of The Crooked Man, says that she and artist Gabriel Hardman are working to turn their Zuda submission into a graphic novel. They placed fifth in the July 2008 Zuda competition. (Thanks David!)
Webcomics | Warren Pleece’s Montague Terrace has started running on the ACTIVATE website. You can also find all the pages at his blog. In other ACTIVATE news, the site also now includes a column by Tim Hall.
e-Devices | The full audio of the South by Southwest interactive panel “Comics on Handhelds: Taking Webcomics Mobile” is now online. The panel features Dan Goldman, Rich Stevens, Douglas Edwards, Molly Crabapple, Dave Bort and Rantz Hoseley “in a let’s-sketch-out-solutions talk for transitioning webcomics to a variety of new petri dishes,” Goldman said.
Webcomics | Fleen’s Gary Tyrrell bridges the gap between print comics and webcomics by pointing fans of the former to something that has a similar tone or feel on the web. Or, in other words, “If you like X, try reading Y.” This Usagi Yojimbo fan is now subscribed to Digger as a result, and I plan to check out others on his list (and in the comments section) as well.
Video games | Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro talks to Wired about a variety of subjects, including how the PlayStation 3 is the “Model T” for a new storytelling engine and how video games will one day have their Citizen Kane — as, in his opinion, comics have already had.
Webcomics | Karl Kerschl says his webcomic The Abominable Charles Christopher could be coming to print this year. “I’m looking at printing quotes and schedules, and I hope to have something available by mid-summer,” he wrote on the comic’s blog.
Webcomics | MTV has started a new feature where they “take a look at comics that merit attention from filmmakers.” The first one focuses on the webcomic The Adventures Of Dr. McNinja By Chris Hastings.
Webcomics | Writing for Publisher’s Weekly Comic Week, Ada Price profiles Smith Magazine and its various webcomics, which include Shooting War, A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge and Next-Door Neighbor.
Digital comics + e-Devices | Straight.com has a good overview of comics being made available on mobile phones. The writer, whose credits I didn’t see anywhere on the page, spoke with reps from iVerse, Arcana Comics and Golden Age Collectibles, a Vancouver-based retailer.
Webcomics | Starting this Sunday, the webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE will run The Iraq War Stories Anthology, edited by Nick Bertozzi. Per the press release, Bertozzi asked the students in his Comic Book Storytelling Workshop at The School of Visual Arts to adapt stories that took place in Iraq during the War.
“The majority of the stories were found on blogs, a few were adapted from stories told to the students by friends, and one student, himself a veteran of the Iraq War, wrote and drew a story based on his own experience,” the release says. One story will appear each Sunday for the next 13 weeks.
e-Devices & Webcomics | Here’s a fun case of sibling rivalry — Peter Timony has released The Complete Sir Roland, previously available on the web, as a comic for Amazon’s Kindle device. Not to be outdone, his twin brother Bobby has released a 24-Hour Comic, The Ballad of Basil the Bunny, for the Kindle.
Webcomics | Daryl Cagle discusses the pluses and minuses of allowing other sites to easily embed political cartoons from his site — something that’s becoming the norm in the world of Web 2.0 and YouTube. [Hat tip: The Comics Reporter]
e-Publishing | Range Murata, the creator of anime like Last Exile and Shangri-La, has released his self-published magazine Throw Line dōjin on iTunes.
e-Devices | Amazon.com this week announced a larger version of their Kindle device, called the Kindle DX. The e-book reader is two-and-a-half times the size of the current Kindle and will retail for almost $500. The New York Times, Washington Post, and Boston Globe, however, will offer “subsidized on-contract Kindles to customers who can’t get at-home delivery when the DX ships this summer.”
So, the natural question for comic fans — is it big enough to show a comics page? Kelson at the Speed Force blog has the same question: “Unless I’ve got my numbers wrong, that makes it larger than the standard manga page, though not quite as big as the standard American comic book page,” he said about the 9.7 inch screen. “And it’s only 1/3 of an inch thick, comparable to a typical trade paperback.” The BBC has more on the specs.
Social media | Ypulse, a teen marketing blog, wonders if teens would follow Twitter feeds for characters from young adult novels. Apparently teens haven’t embraced Twitter (which surprises me … I figured they’d been using it and dropped it when all the old people showed up, kind of like Facebook), and the post wonders if they’d start using it if, say, the sparkling vampires from Twilight had their own feeds.
“Protagonists, antagonists and supporting characters (the latter might be especially intriguing) would continue to gain depth and dimension in the intermittent period between books and meanwhile, readers would feel more connected to the world that the author created,” writes Meredith, who blogs for the site. “Or, as connected to them as they choose to be depending on whether they simply read the tweets or actually respond to them and engage in dialogue.” She also notes that characters from Mad Men showed up on Twitter last year, which everyone assumed was a marketing ploy for the show, but turned out to be more along the lines of fan fiction.
BOOM! Studios recently launched a Twitter feed for one of their fictional characters, the talking teddy bear who thinks he’s James Bond, Mister Stuffins. Is it a marketing ploy, an extension of the story, or maybe both? And would comic fans follow the Twitter feed for, say, Batman, Luke Cage or Scott Pilgrim, if their tweets were written by Grant Morrison, Brian Michael Bendis or Bryan Lee O’Malley, respectively?
Webcomics | The long-running Split Lip horror webcomic is now available in print. Split Lip Vol. 1 is a 158-page trade paperback collecting 11 horror comics, all written by Sam Costello and drawn by artists such as John Bivens, Jason Ho and Sami Makkonen.
Costello is selling copies on the Split Lip website and will sell them at conventions as well.
E-devices | BoingBoing points to an announcement from Gamma Dynamics that they’ve developed “a new electrofluidic reflective display” that uses colored pigments. Mark Frauenfelder wonders if this could lead to a color version of Amazon’s Kindle device. Matt Maxwell says, “And you will end up reading your comics on it, sooner or later.”
Webcomics | French cartoonist Raphael B. uses the scroll bar to his advantage in this very cool Spider-Man webcomic that transcends any language barriers. [Hat tip: Laura Hudson, at the relaunched Comics Alliance blog]
Humor | Meet the world’s first Post-Paper Evolution Consultant. “I’m 29. I was practically raised by an original Nintendo, so I was there the first time a video game (Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest) showed a richness of characterization, lyrical language, and elegant plotting that rivaled the finest novels. I was blogging by ’02, Facebooking by ’04, bored of Facebook by ’06, thinking it was lame how thirty-five year olds got super in to Facebook in ’08. Like it or not, I’m the future.”
Digital comics | Cartoonist Dan Hipp, whose Gyakushu! was among the titles caught up last year in Tokyopop’s seismic restructuring, has announced the third volume is complete and apparently will appear online: “So, will you get to see it? The answer is yes, but not as originally intended, as the plan is STILL to put it online. Apologies to anyone assuming otherwise, because naturally I’d love to see it in print someday, in its full 600-page horrific glory. Don’t hold your breath, but who knows what the future will bring.”
Talk of Tokyopop moving the bulk of its “OEL books” online began in June as soon as the company announced its shakeup. However, no official announcement has been made.
Digital comics | In this week’s “MyCup o’ Joe” Q&A, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada touches upon the uncertainties of the digital “format”: “I think the next big commercial format will be the digital format. It’s paradoxical, because I think we all ‘know that,’ but we don’t know what form it will take. Thousands of people are experimenting with different formats and different techniques in digital. And I’m sure we’ll all continue experimenting for the next few years until the apple falls on someone’s head and they figure it out.”
E-devices | Michael Fitzpatrick reports that Fujitsu plans to ship 50,000 units of its color FLEPia e-book reader by the end of 2010. The devices sells for about $1,000.
E-devices | Sean Kleefeld considers the drawbacks to reading comics on a smart phone: “How long does it take you to read a comic panel? One or two seconds? Then what? You’d have to scroll/click/slide/whatever to the next panel. Then you spend another second or two reading that panel, and then you’d have to scroll/click/slide/whatever to the third one. You’d end up spending as much time navigating the document as you would reading.”
Applications | Brendan Wilhide reviews the ComicZeal comic-book viewer/storage app for iPhone.
The webcomics/news site ComicMix and IDW Publishing announced a deal where IDW will publish several ComicMix properties as monthly comics and trade paperbacks. The deal will start with two properties IDW has published before — Mike Grell’s Jon Sable, Freelance, and John Ostrander and Tim Truman’s GrimJack, as well as Hammer of the Gods by Mark Wheatley and Mike Avon Oeming.
Per the press release, available after the jump, the deal will also allow IDW to publish the titles on handheld devices.
Both GrimJack and Jon Sable were published by First Comics back in the 1980s. IDW has collected both comics in a series of trade paperbacks, while ComicMix began publishing new stories online in 2007.
“You still represent the dominant sales force of graphic fiction,” Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley told members of the direct-market trade organization.
Webcomics | Chickenhare creator Chris Grine has decided that since Dark Horse isn’t interested in publishing a third graphic novel, he’ll take the series online beginning this fall.
Digital publishing | Marvel has announced it will launch The Spectacular Spider-Girl as a digital comic beginning April 15. The initial story will debut at the Marvel Digital Comics website, and then appear in print two weeks later in Amazing Spider-Man Family #5.
E-devices | Fujitsu has unveiled Japan’s first full-color e-book reader, the FLEPia.
It would seem like a major leap forward for comics, but CNET UK points out that the FLEPia only supports XMDF and .book format e-books. Plus, the device is now only available in Japan, where it sells for ¥99,750 — or a little over $1,000.
Publishing | At ICv2.com, retailer Steve Bennett returns to the “collectibility” well to argue that the urge to bag, board and sort will save the printed comic from being replaced by the digital version.
E-devices | At Publishers Weekly, Ada Price talks with a handful of publishers about their early experience converting titles to Amazon’s Kindle.
Copyright | At Reason Online, Henry Jenkins examines how illegal copying and distribution helped anime to succeed in the United States.
E-publishing | IDW Publishing has made available the first two issues of its sold-out Star Trek: Countdown at the iTunes app store.
E-publishing | Uclick and Tokyopop are making the first volume of Svetlana Chmakova’s Dramacon available as a free app on Apple’s app store.
Webcomics | Joey Manley looks at the use of webcomics as promotional tools for TV shows and print comics.
Multimedia | From SXSW, Wired.com considers the “deep media” approach Electronic Arts used for marketing the video game Dead Space, an effort that included comics, animation and interactive web features.
Blogosphere | David Brothers talks e-devices, webcomics, digital comics, and more.
South by Southwest is currently underway down in Austin, Texas. The giant music, film and multimedia festival runs through March 22. On today’s agenda is a panel called Comics on Handhelds, hosted by Dan Goldman and featuring Diesel Sweeties creator Rich Stevens, Uclick.com CEO Douglas Edwards, Dr. Sketchy’s creator Molly Crabapple, Google Android engineer Dave Bort and The Longbox Group’s Rantz Hoseley.
No doubt this will be a great discussion, and if you’d like to participate, you don’t need a plane ticket to the Lone Star State … all you need is a Twitter account. Goldman explains:
And those of you not attending… you’ll still be able to interact with us over Twitter during the panel using #comicsonhandhelds. The panel will be available in audio+video online soon as well; watch this space for details.
That means if you Twitter a question, just be sure to include #comicsonhandhelds in the body of your tweet. The panel begins at 5 p.m. Central, so be sure to get your questions out there before then.
Publishing | Louis Holt argues that “collectibility” will save the printed comic from being replaced by the digital version.
“The fallacy of thinking that digital comic books will kill print comic books is that it ignores the collectible value of comic books,” Holt writes. “There is no telling how many comic books sold today aren’t even read but are immediately slid into protective sleeves with backing boards. People can’t trade or wrap digital comic books in plastic.”
I suspect Holt creates a flaw of his own by overstating the hold collectibility has on readers. Handling monthly comics like 1,000-year-old parchments before sealing them away in Mylar bags may be common practice among a segment of the audience (particularly those of a certain age). However, I don’t believe “collectibility” is a driving force — the driving force? — for the readership at large. The increasing popularity of trade paperbacks, the whole wait-for-the-trade “movement,” and, yes, webcomics would seem enough to cast Holt’s notion into doubt.
That said, the band shouldn’t start the funeral dirge for the printed comic anytime soon (whatever “soon” means). Any sort of seismic shift by the industry toward digital comics still faces numerous obstacles — e-device quality and affordability, and the necessity of new business models, among them. I just don’t think “collectibility” is one of the more worrisome ones.
Matt Maxwell also weighs in: “Well, pulp novels are collectable, so are wax cylinders. So are vinyl records. Anything can be made collectible. Collectibility doesn’t mean that a format survives or is necessarily a standard currency any longer. It just means that someone wants the artifact and is willing to pay for it.”
Copyright | Although manga publishers have yet to clamp down on scanlators — fans who translate Japanese comics and post them online — a University of London professor thinks conflicts could arise as the global market becomes more lucrative. She estimates there are more than 1,000 scanlation groups worldwide.
E-devices | Matt Springer sees Apple’s rumored touch-screen Netbook as a contender for “ultimate eComics reader.”
Social media | Advertising Age reports that Facebook is driving more traffic than Google to some large websites.