Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

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Visualizing Comics on the iPad

January 27, 2010

Steve Jobs didn’t specifically talk about comics and other visually-intensive ebooks on the iPad, but it does fix many of the graphics and usability issues that severely limited the comics-reading utility of the monochrome e-readers and bulky tablet PCs that came before.

With its large color screen, slim form factor and long battery life, it may well be the reading device that comics fans have been waiting for.

While we await the iPad’s arrival, I wanted to visualize just how the iPad might work as a comics-reading machine. I fired up Photoshop and plugged in a couple of screens from the Witchblade books on WOWIO. What do you think?

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Star Trek Comics = Retro Geek Fun

September 21, 2007

If you’re a geek of a certain vintage like me, the otherworldly strains of the original Star Trek theme song can send little tingles up your spine — even 30+ years after those rapt childhood evenings watching the UHF-rerun adventures of Kirk, Spock and the starship Enterprise. For better or worse, those shows helped to define me. It’s no coincidence that I spent my first eight years after college working as an engineer on the Space Shuttle program.

When I spotted 60s-70s-era Star Trek comics on the WOWIO New Releases feed this morning (free downloads), I was there in a click. Back in the day, I watched the original series and the animated show, but I had never seen this comic.

The writing in the first book is a bit odd with, for example, Spock’s speech laden with uncharacteristic emotion and far too many exclamation points. Then again, the writers didn’t have the prism of decades of pop culture character development on which to base the dialogue. This settles down in the later books, though exclamation points don’t ever seem to really go away in comic-speak.

Bottom line: seeing Shatner and crew rendered in that now-retro comic book style is pure nostalgia.

Star Trek comic book panels

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Comic Book Fans Surf the Waves of Change

August 28, 2007

Comic book readers are the harbingers of a sea change in the reading world. Often of the generations born native to the digital realm, they’re well accustomed to reading on-screen and they’re pointing the way to a long-promised future where most book content is consumed digitally.

Penny and Aggie on a Lenovo X61T Tablet

Webcomic Penny & Aggie in ebook format on a Lenovo X61T Tablet PC.

Comics — whether in webcomic form or in traditional print-style formats — are generally very visual, relatively light on text and short, making them ideal for computer screens in spite of any form factor limitations. Comic art often actually looks better on a screen than in print, given the vibrant and wider-ranging colors of modern computer displays.
Lexian Chronicles on a Lenovo X61T Tablet PC

A two-page spread from print comic book Lexian Chronicles, displayed as a PDF ebook.

With a profusion of webcomics blossoming on the pixelated trail blazed by Scott McCloud, the pieces have already come together: ubiquitous hardware, pervasive broadband distribution, strong content… and a ready audience.

The result? Comics are exploding on the Web. For example, comic titles have risen to a high perch on WOWIO’s popularity charts — and the growth shows no sign of leveling off.

Extrapolating comic readers’ digital-reading habits to the population of general book readers isn’t a huge stretch. Mainstream content is increasingly available via new Web channels driven by a variety of business models. Publishers sense the impending shift and are taking steps to position themselves accordingly. On the demographics side, the same generational shift to digital natives seen among comic readers is occurring in the general reading population. Meanwhile, computers, dedicated readers and mobile devices are continuing their steady evolution, punctuated by energetic mutations with revolutionary promise. The emergence of a killer device seems inevitable.

As these factors fall into alignment, they superpose into a surge that will lift us once and for all past the fifteenth-century technologies of paper and ink… and we’ll find ourselves in a new land already pioneered and settled by folks clutching stacks of digital comics.