Digital Comic Resources: Mark Waid's Digital Storytelling, "Skullkickers" Online

There were no earth-shattering announcements since last week's round-up, but the digital comics scene is still teeming with activity. Mark Waid posted an essay and video summing up his latest thoughts on digital, Michael Murphey cleared up some confusion about Diamond Digital, Jim Zub talks about his digital "Skullkickers" reprints and JManga's Robert Newman was busy agitating the masses to demand global distribution via Twitter and Facebook.

Creativity: Mark Waid has been thinking about digital comics for a while, and his insight is at once simple and profound: Digital comics should be designed to be read digitally. That implies a lot of things that don't necessarily work with print comics. There's landscape orientation, of course, but there's a lot more than that: "Yet without resorting to the crutch of cheap, limited animation, we're still able to suggest movement by altering the art between panels on the 'page turn' that happens when the reader taps the left or right edge of the screen," Waid writes. "We can break long captions or art elements into pieces that seem to 'drop in' as the pages are turned. And we're only just beginning to learn. I encourage my artists to break borders figuratively and literally -- to imagine infinite canvases, new visual language, and more."

Diamond Digital: Widespread misunderstanding of what exactly is going on with the not-yet-released Diamond Digital app led Michael Murphey of iVerse, the digital distributor that is working on the app, to clarify matters in an interview with Todd Allen at The Beat. The Diamond Digital program will allow retailers to sell digital comics directly from their websites, with Diamond acting as the distributor, and the retailer will get 33% of the proceeds. The app is for reading only. In this way, Diamond Digital mirrors Amazon, which keeps its Kindle reader separate from its website (although DD will allow readers to read comics on the retailers' websites as well). The app will basically be iVerse's Comics + app with the store stripped out. Although purchases are not being made through the iTunes store, Murphey says they will be backed up through iTunes, and comics can be downloaded from the Cloud at any time. The initial slate of participating publishers is rather small and does not include DC or Marvel, but Murphey said that more can be expected. And as Allen pointed out, Diamond is likely to use its marketing clout to demand exclusives, which will fragment the digital comics market even further.

Creators: "Skullkickers," by Jim Zubkavich, Edwin Huang, Chris Stevens, and Misty Coats, did pretty well as a print comic, but when they serialized the early issues on Keenspot, it went viral, getting over half a million page views in its first month.

Manga: The manga portal JManga, which is run by an association of 39 Japanese publishers, has beefed up its content considerably over the past few weeks with new Harlequin romance and yuri (lesbian romance) manga, as well as Jiro Taniguchi's foodie manga "Kodoku no Gourmet." And in a move that is unusual in the manga world, JManga's business manager, Robert Newman, has turned to social media to persuade the member publishers that the site should be available worldwide, not just in the U.S. and Canada, as is currently the case. Newman has been encouraging readers to tell the publishers, via Twitter and Facebook, that they would like it to be available worldwide. I talked to Newman about this initiative and asked some general questions about how the site has evolved at MangaBlog.

Manga: The manga creator Izumi Matsumoto announced at Katsucon that his classic 1980s manga "Kimagure Orange Road" will be released in English via the Facebook app ComicFriends. The series, which was first published in the 1980s, has been very popular in scanlation but has never been released in English before. Matsumoto also has plans to release it via iBooks and Kindle. While Archie Comics plans to sell comics on Facebook via Graphicly, the ComicFriends app lives entirely on Facebook; the comics reader is embedded in the site, and the app allows users to buy manga with Facebook credits or free points that they earn by doing social media tasks like posting comments or reviews, or inviting a friend to join. The app is balky and the translations are not great, but "Kimagure Orange Road" has a big fanbase, and this is a rare example of a Japanese creator taking his manga directly to U.S. readers.

Creators: Colleen Coover recently did a short story, "Rose's Heart," for the Double Feature iPad app. At Multiversity Comics, she explained what she liked about it: " Corinna Bechko showed me her and Gabriel Hardman's story The Liar on her iPad, with the ability to strip off the letters, and colors, and get a peek at the pencils, and I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Then she showed me how each page has text annotations, and I just about flipped. The nice thing about these kind of extras for creators is; we already have all this stuff, so it's not like showing off the pencils of a page is gonna make us do a lot of extra work, and it gives the readers a nifty look behind the curtain." Coover not only annotated "Rose's Heart," she also included the original script so readers could see how much it had changed.

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