Greetings, all; Troy here. Please extend a warm welcome to Lee Cherolis and Kyle Latino; they’re comic creators from Indiana, and two of the many contributors at the Indy Webcomics Group. This marks their initial installment, but expect to see the fellas popping up on a regular basis. First, please allow them to introduce themselves . . .
Lee Cherolis is a Cartoonist and Graphic Designer living and working in Indianapolis, Indiana. He founded and maintains a local artist blog and promotional group, at http://www.indywebcomics.com. He’s had short stories published in comics anthologies as well as his comic strips appearing in local news-weekly magazines in Indianapolis. You can reach Lee at email@example.com.
Kyle Latino: Used bookseller by trade, sequential artist by vocation. Aspires to become a professional penciler, though he is fully aware that it is far more likely to be struck by lightning. First started reading comics right after the first X-Men movie, has only gotten snobbier since then. Can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, Brainstorming: Digital Comics . . .
iVerse, you verse.
In November of last year, iVerse Media released their first round of comics on the App store for the iPhone (whenever I say iPhone, we also mean iPod Touch). Since then, there has been a steady stream of new titles and releases. Readership of these comics, many available for free, soared over 100,000 in just two months. iPhone sales exploded this holiday season, and each customer, new and old, is scrambling to see what this little machine can do. The opportunity to pave a new market for digital comics has never been greater. Some have said that all it will take is an iTunes for comics before digital comics will take off, well now comics are on iTunes.
So far, iVerse titles are available from FREE up to (top price) but most go for 99¢ which isn’t bad for full length comic book content. Everything released has been an adaptation of existing, published comics. Some are older, but most are within the last few years. Nothing from the big two either, as is to be expected. The method of viewing is simple, the panels and wordballoons are cropped and placed into 480×320 segments that you scroll through with your finger. Here is where their adaptation method hits a few bumps. Clearly, these panels were not made with this screen size in mind, indeed some of the comics predate the iPhone. This can sometimes result in jagged points of other panels creeping into the frame, or awkward splits when scrolling to the next panel.
It is only a matter of time, however, before original content developed with the iPhone’s specs in mind gets accepted. iVerse does, after all, have an open submission policy. Truly, the format is something more akin to a strip as opposed to a comic book, but that’s not to say that it can’t be just as dynamic as a book can be, if done in a thoughtful way. Like Scott McCloud would say, don’t look at the 480×320 screen size as a prison cell, but as a window. A “panel” could be more screens than just one (fig.1). In fact, you could make a comic out of one continuous panel, if you like, all scrolling across the same panoramic background (fig.2). Use the motion of scrolling the next panel as a design element instead of treating it like an obstacle. Done properly, you could even plan the panel sizes in such a way that they could be arranged on a printed page for a trade paperback copy (fig.3).
I don’t think that iVerse is going to sink the battleship of comic books, at least not very soon. It’s not even their goal. Digital comics has been waiting for something sexy (for lack of a scholarly, economic term) enough to sell them, and I think the iPhone is exactly sexy enough. The dawn of the digital age is just breaking over the horizon, but their isn’t yet enough light to tell what shape it will take. What I do know is that I’ll be watching iVerse closely, watch them find there way in a new marketplace for sequential entertainment.