What a difference a year makes! A year ago today, the iPad not only didn’t exist, it hadn’t been officially announced yet. People read comics on their iPhones and iPod Touches, but the screens were too small for a good experience (and therefore, no one wanted to spend much money on them). The iPad changed all that, with a big, full-color screen that is just a tad smaller than a standard comics page (and a tad larger than a standard manga page), and publishers started taking digital comics seriously. The distribution was already in place, thanks to the iPhone—comiXology, iVerse, Panelfly—and now the publishers not only jumped on board with those platforms but also started developing their own apps.
The digital comics scene is still developing, but the iPad was the game changer. For many people, it was the first time that they could comfortably read comics on a handheld screen. Now, it’s just a question of marketing—this year, publishers will grapple with bringing comics to a wider audience, outside the existing readership, and balancing the digital marketplace with the established brick-and-mortar retail structure.
Here, then, is a look back at our digital year.
Mike Jasper and Niki Smith hit the big time when their comic In Maps and Legends won the Zuda competition in November 2009, but shortly after the comic started its run, DC took down the whole site, leaving many of the creators without a platform. Jasper and Smith took the plunge into self-publishing, relaunching the comic on multiple platforms, including Kindle, Wowio, LongBox, Drive Thru Comics, and iTunes. You can get the comic on your computer, iPhone, iPad, or Droid. With the third issue due out on December 1, I checked in with them to see how things were going.
Brigid: First of all, the most important question in an interview like this is: What is the comic about?
Mike: In Maps & Legends is about a young woman caught between this world and another, and her attempts to save them both. It starts off as a contemporary fantasy, as our hero Kaitlin Grayson and her friends get caught in the web of a mysterious man named Bartamus who shows up at Kait’s place one night. Bartamus tells Kait she’s the only one who can save his dying world. As you can guess from the title, cartography, history, and stories play a key role in the unfolding mystery of our comic.
Brigid: How long do you plan it to be?
Mike: This first story arc is ten issues. I can see a lot more stories in this series, but we’re starting with this arc to see if it sparks interest in readers who’d like to read more.
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Digital comics | Technology columnist Andy Ihnatko spotlights LongBox Digital, the much-anticipated “iTunes for comics,” and claims he’s “pretty sure” the company is entering into a “formal alliance” with Apple: “Comic-industry cluelessness and their inability to unite towards a common, mutual good are the two main reasons why we haven’t seen anything like LongBox before. But they probably haven’t been as serious a roadblock as the simple lack of any portable device that’s perfectly-suited to reading digital comics. This is a form of storytelling that needs a tablet. A big, page-sized color screen with lots of resolution and a touch interface for turning pages and navigating from panel to panel. Apple is rumored to be making one of those things. And they’re also rumored to be speaking with a great many high-profile print publishers about bringing their content to this new device.” LongBox CEO Rantz Hoseley wouldn’t confirm Ihnatko’s Apple assertion. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Comic-Con International has released the programming schedule for Thursday, July 23, as well as some special programming for preview night. You can check out the entire day’s worth of activities right here for yourself. Here are some of the highlights …
- During preview night on Wednesday, Warner Bross Television will show some of their pilots for upcoming TV series — Human Target, Vampire Diaries and the remake of V.
Piracy | Global Gaming Factory X AB said it is buying the file-sharing site The Pirate Bay, which hosts BitTorrents of various types, including comics. The Swedish software company “intends to launch new business models that allow compensation to the content providers and copyright owners,” the company said.
Digital comics | Last week Rich Johnston did another “Twinterview,” or interview over Twitter, this time with Longbox inventor Rantz Hoseley. The entire thing is collected over at BleedingCool.com. Rich asks about how Longbox will affect comic shops, mobile devices, funding and more. You can also watch Hoseley’s panel from HeroesCon over at iFanboy.
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 …
This past weekend Philadelphia welcomed Wizard World, while Charlotte hosted HeroesCon. Two East Coast conventions, separated by more than 500 miles and a couple of states. If you were away from your computer, then you may have missed some of the announcements that sprang from both venues:
• For years people have been asking for an “iTunes for comics.” Well, it looks like we might actually get one. Rantz Hoseley’s Longbox will be a free download available later this year for PC, Macs and Linux. Comics can be download for a suggested price point of $.99 per issue, with the potential for block and subscription pricing. BOOM! and Top Cow have already signed on.
• Marvel had a lot of announcements at the show. Spinning out of the Uncanny X-Men/Dark Avengers crossover that kicks off any day now will be a series of one-shots that fall under the heading of Dark Reign: The List. Basically Norman Osbourn starts making a list of everyone standing in his way who he needs to do dirty, nasty things to.
The eight one shots and the creators working on them are:
Dark Reign: The List – Daredevil by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan
Dark Reign: The List – Wolverine by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic
Dark Reign: The List – Hulk by Greg Pak and Ben Oliver
Dark Reign: The List – Amazing Spider-Man by Dan Slott and Adam Kubert
Dark Reign: The List – Avengers by Brian Bendis and Marko Djurdjevic
Dark Reign: The List – Uncanny X-Men by Matt Fraction and Alan Davis
Dark Reign: The List – Secret Warriors by Jonathan Hickman and Ed McGuiness
Dark Reign: The List – Punisher by Rick Remender and John Romita Jr.
The project was announced at around the same time both in Philadelphia and in Charlotte. For more info, check out CBR’s interviews with Bendis, Fraction and Remender, as well as Pak, Hickman and Aaron. Also, Aaron talks a little bit about his Wolverine one-shot on his blog; it will feature both Marvel Boy and Fantomex, as well as a new Weapon XVI.