Following quickly on its Squids news, Ape Entertainment announced this morning that it’s signed a deal with developer Imangi Studios to release a series of graphic novels and digital comics based on the popular video game Temple Run.
Debuting in 2011, the endless action game revolves around explorers who attempt to steal an idol from a temple while being chased by demonic monkeys. According to the publisher, the comics will delve into the backstory of the explorers as well as the mysteries of the ancient temples. No word on the monkeys, though.
“Temple Run is by far one of my favorite adventure games on the App Store,” Ape CEO David Hedgecock said in a statement. “The thrilling gameplay plays into our plans very nicely for an extraordinary storyline that we know fans will enjoy.”
As with the previously announced Squids, the Temple Run comics will be released in print and through a standalone app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
Ape has already met with great success with its adaptations of the games Pocket God — the first issue alone has sold 200,000 copies – and Cut the Rope.
comiXology is the big dog of iPod/iPad comics readers; they got into the game early, their interface is the easiest to use, and they have a lot of comics in their catalog.
Sometimes success can trip you up a bit, though. In addition to its own Comics reader, comiXology developed iPad apps for a number of comics publishers, including Marvel and DC, and this led to complaints from smaller companies that they were having trouble getting a spot on comiXology’s digital shelf. At NYCC last month, I talked to comiXology CEO David Steinberger, and he told me that they were going to make their toolbox available to independent publishers so they can prep their own work for the app, which will hopefully speed up the process. Now they have made it official.
ComiXology began by reaching out to a few publishers for a private “alpha” phase of the program; Tokyopop, Devil’s Due, Arcana Comics and Scott Admunson, creator of Barbarian, signed on, and perhaps the most visible of the comics was Tokyopop’s Hetalia: Axis Powers, a manga with strong advance buzz that appeared on comiXology the same day it was released in print (but after its digital release via Zinio). Now they will be inviting more publishers to participate. The ultimate goal will be to make the tools available to everybody, and this sounds pretty visionary:
The final product will be part of a comprehensive online system, allowing seamless submission for digital publishing for all comic book creators and publishers in an iTunes-like model.
That’s an amazing vision for a small company but comiXology has done a good job so far of getting in front of the trends. However, I wonder if their product isn’t blinding them a bit. Continue Reading »
The Japanese publisher Square Enix, whose properties include the best-selling series Black Butler and Fullmetal Alchemist, revealed its online manga plans at the Tokyo Game Show yesterday.
Square Enix already has a website through which fans can purchase games, and they set up an online manga site for North America in July, with some sample chapters and an announcement that its digital media store would launch in Fall 2010. According to the information released at the Game Show, that date has been pushed back to winter. Square Enix already allows users to buy games through their website, and they will use the same system for manga, so existing users will not have to create new accounts.
Several Square Enix properties, including Black Butler, Soul Eater, and Pandora Hearts, are licensed by Yen Press but are not available on Yen’s online Yen Plus magazine. It looks like those series will be running on the Square Enix website.
As far as other platforms are concerned, Square Enix seems to be moving cautiously. In November, it will launch Gangan Online, an iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch app, but that will only be available in Japan, and foreign-language versions are not in the cards for the immediate future.
I thought that I might be writing about reading comics on Apple’s revolutionary new tablet, a much-rumored expanded version of the iPod, by now, but their September meeting came and went with no news on that front. So I’m still reading on my iPod Touch, which has the virtues of clarity and portability and the vice of tininess.
Even with the small screen, though, my iPod is evolving. Back in the Stone Age (six months ago), each comic or section of a comic was a single app, which led to a lot of little icons cluttering up the screen. Now a reader can use a single app such as comiXology’s Comics app, iVerse, or Panelfly, to buy, download, and organize comics, which is a more elegant solution. ComiXology has just released a free version of its app, which allows readers access to all the free comics in its app store, and it also has a Lite version that is 12+, as opposed to 17+, presumably for younger readers.
I assume the hidden hand of Apple has something to do with the fact that these apps have similar design and functionality: You pick your function from a navigation strip across the bottom, with icons for the store, featured items, etc., and you move from a list of comics to catalog listings by tapping and swiping, just as with other apps.
These apps solve a glaring problem, which is that there is no obvious way to find comics in the iTunes store. Continue Reading »
It would be easy to miss the significance of comiXology’s Comics application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. After all, comics apps are, if not a dime a dozen, at least cheap and plentiful.
But Comics isn’t just a comic or a comics reader, it’s a portal that offers a possible way out of the death spiral that independent pamphlet comics seem to be locked into.
Consider the problem: Most comics are only available in comics stores, not on the mass market; prospective readers must often pre-order comics sight unseen; and Diamond won’t carry comics that don’t meet certain minimums. The barrier for new comics is getting higher, and readers have fewer opportunities to discover new comics.
ComiXology provides a digital solution to that impasse that keeps the retailer in the loop: It allows readers to sample comics for free and buy them for their iPhone or iPod Touch, but it also helps them find the print comic in a brick-and-mortar store. ComiXology CEO David Steinberger says he hopes to allow readers to preview and pre-order comics before their official release, helping marginal comics to reach Diamond’s threshold.
The iPhone application is an extension of the comiXology website, which features a complete listing of the comics available in Diamond Previews each month and allows readers to create a digital pull list.
Here’s what Steinberger had to say about the new application, which was announced at San Diego Comic-Con:
Iconology this morning launched its Comics by comiXology application, a digital-comics store, library and reader for iPhone and iPod featuring titles from 20 publishers. It’s available on Apple’s App Store.
Participating companies include AdHouse Books, Arcana, Bluewater Productions, Com.X, Digital Webbing, eigoMANGA, Image Comics, Moonstone, Red 5 and SLG Publishing.
In addition, Robert Kirkman has signed on to deliver his comics, most notably The Walking Dead and Invincible, exclusively through the app.
IDW Publishing announced at Comic-Con that it’s expanding its digital-comics initiative to include the G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra prequels, as well as Transformers and CSI titles.
Over the coming weeks the company will add more G.I. Joe and Transformers comics, plus Danger Girl, Astro Boy, Groom Lake, John Sable Freelance and GrimJack.
The IDW catalog can be found on iTunes, where users can download an eight-page preview of Danger Girl #0 for free.
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.