This entry was posted on Aug 21 2009 by

A Word About iTunes Comics

We’ve been working with iVerse for the past few months on getting a series of apps for The Surrogates up and running on iTunes, and I’m pleased to say they’re very close to being released.  I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of mobile comics apps at first because most of the demos I’d seen involved animations and other elements of “motion comics.”  I’m not exactly sure what “motion comics” are supposed to be, but to me they don’t seem like comics at all.  Aren’t static images (whether standalone or in sequence) what comics are all about?

Then I saw iVerse’s output.  Staying true to the characteristics of the comics medium, they eschew animations and other motion gadgetry for the sake of fidelity.  They’ve introduced some new elements with the iPhone 3GS update, such as optional full-page views that let you begin with a bird’s-eye view of the page layout before moving in on the individual panels.  In the event you need to reorient yourself, you can tilt your iPhone back to vertical at any time and return to the full-page view.  Most importantly, their apps are designed to let you control the pace of reading, rather than wait for animations to load and advance you to the next panel or page.  A video on the iVerse website shows you how it all works.

Incidentally, J Chris Campbell (self-publishing guru and my closest friend in the state of South Carolina) had his own iTunes app go live recently through comiXology.  You can download the free sample, Zig Zag Appetizer, and get a taste for his comics.  J Chris’ style is uniquely suited for the platform because many of his minicomics are drawn in a horizontal, landscape format that translates seamlessly to the iPhone’s widescreen mode.  And comiXology incorporates a nice technique into their apps when necessary, zooming in for a tight shot of a character before pulling back to give you the full-panel reveal.  This is something I often struggle with as a comics writer—how to get the reader to see the elements of the page in the order I want them to be seen.  Has technology at long last discovered a cure for the wandering eye?

I’ll be back on Monday with the introductory installment of this website’s second recurring feature, The Ugly Truth.  Prepare yourself.

2 Responses to “A Word About iTunes Comics”

  1. Jake
    9:20 am on August 21st, 2009

    Going to be honest, I’m not sold on the digital comics. I’m just one of those people that need the book in my hands. I need a hard copy. I feel like I can’t see the full picture, so to speak.

    Having said that, I’ve never actually read a book or GN on anything digital, aside from previews. I found navigating the comics on my computer a bit frustrating at times. Other times it was very easy. I guess it depends on the program.

    The link you posted actually looks pretty cool. As someone who is adamently against mobile comics like this, I’ll give it a reluctant shot. Maybe I’ll be accustomed to it.


  2. Tom Kolega
    6:58 pm on August 21st, 2009

    Hey Robert,

    Exciting time with Surrogates coming out soon. You must be riding a high? We met at Comic-Con and I was impressed by your story from packing boxes to a breakout on the big screen. Glad “the process” treated you well too.

    On the above post, I used to find it hard to accept the digital form of comics or books as equal to hard copies. Recently, however, emerging technologies that ENHANCE a reader’s experience making for a future where books or comics can be bundled with artwork, audio, video, etc. while more affordable and accessible, sounds like a win-win. This advanced state of e-comics/books will make things interesting. I’m old school though… so visiting a bookstore will never go out of style – granted they still exist 20 years from now.


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