NBM sent out a press release last night saying that it would be re-releasing Phil Yeh's Dinosaurs Across America as an interactive digital graphic novel, and they are billing it as "a fully interactive version that may very well be the first interactive graphic novel ever published." That's a mighty bold claim, but apparently the digital Dinosaurs is more than just a comic that you read on a screen; it has been entirely retooled so that readers climb into a virtual spaceship and zip from page to page, clicking here and there to bring up information. (The original Dinosaurs Across America is an educational graphic novel that takes the readers on a panel-by-panel tour of all 50 states.) The book is available as an app through the iTunes store and as an ebook for Mac and PC via Koobits.
Perhaps this isn't really the first interactive graphic novel—software companies have been doing something like this with children's books for years—but it certainly is an ambitious retooling. Even more interesting is NBM publisher Terry Nantier's comment, further down in the press release:
This is part of NBM’s fairly aggressive move into e-books for its graphic novels and reorientation we’ll be making more announcements about soon. Comics and graphic novels will always be in print, they’re too tactile and collectible not to be, but electronic versions are fun too. In this case, we see a fascinating magnification of the effect comics can have at making learning fun.
That should be interesting, because NBM hasn't really jumped into the digital pool yet. They have a few graphic novels available via comiXology and comiXology's Comics 4 Kids app, but that seems to be the extent of their digital presence, so a move into interactive e-books, or stand-alone apps, would be an interesting departure.