Madefire may have created a truly innovative new way to create and read digital comics... but you'll need an iPad if you want to read them.
Dave Gibbons. Bill Sienkiewicz. These are two names that are well respected in the world of comics and sequential art. Gibbons, of course, is most famous for his work with bearded recluse Alan Moore as the co-creator and artist of Watchmen, widely considered one of if not the greatest comic books of all time. His career in comics has spanned over 30 years. Sienkiewicz, most well known for his work with Chris Claremont on New Mutants, has also worked in comics for over 30 years. Both men are regarded as geniuses.
With a pedigree like that, Madefire has an opportunity to stand out in the emerging realm of digital comics. The company launched their iPad app this week, featuring original and interactive works by Gibbons and other creators. According to Madefire, the app "delivers a continuous flow of 'Motion Books', original stories each with their own unique and immersive experience, providing users with a comic or graphic novel experience like none other." The comics are optimized for the iPad, making use of cool-sounding features like gyroscopes, accelerometers, and Retina displays.
Unfortunately, this reporter will have to take their word for it, because I don't own an iPad (I'm an Android guy). This is an example of what I feel is a growing problem in the burgeoning digital comics industry and the ebook industry in general: competing platforms and closed marketplaces are making books less portable. Physical books come with no compatibility issues.
Paper is a universal medium that does not require expensive devices and buy-in to an electronic ecosystem. Diversification of platforms for digital media, while offering an advantage to readers and creators alike in the form of competitive innovation, carries a very real danger of segregating the book and comic markets and making titles less available to everyone. This problem is compounded by some of the protective measures that some companies feel the need to take to protect their property against the very real problem of digital piracy.
Apple's iPad starts at $399, with more high-end models going as high as $830. Even the Kindle Fire or Nook tablets, cheaper (but less impressive) Android alternatives, run at $150-$200. That's the cost for entry to the world of portable, digital comics, which is sure to discourage some potential readers. A physical comic book is much cheaper at $3.99, and requires no additional technology to enjoy, though the story value per dollar is another matter that could merit its own article.
I believe that digital comics are the future of the industry, and, in fact, that digital media is the future of entertainment in general. However, I also believe that it is important to consider the ramifications of the way the marketplace is evolving, and both consumers and publishers need to play an active role in shaping this medium into something more open and inclusive. Will the digital revolution lead to an increased audience and new growth for comics, or will restrictive DRM, high prices, and multiple closed ecosystems actually make it harder to access comics than ever before? This is all very new, and it may be some time before we find out, but it's never too early to think about the future.
In that respect, Madefire is being proactive. The company isn't just looking for a way to sell books. They want to democratize the entire process of creating digital comics. The company plans to make their publishing tools available to anyone interested in creating digital comics. The basic tools will be available for free at their website. Madefire understands that digital comics are more than just an opportunity to digitize comics pages and put them on an LCD screen. "We have seen these great innovations ?in other forms of entertainment such as gaming, movies and television, but reading has largely transferred words to the digital page without transforming the experience.," said Liam Sharp, Madefire's CCO.
We've reached out to the founders of Mediafire to address the issues we feel are important to the future of the industry. In the meantime, if you own an iPad, don't let this reporter's concerns discourage you from checking out the work of some fantastic creators on what is potentially a great new way to both create and experience comics. Madefire's press release is posted below, and you can download the app directly from iTunes.
Madefire Shakes Up the Comic and Graphic Novel Industry with Revolutionary App and Reading Experience?for iPad
San Francisco, California, June 21, 2012—Madefire, an exciting new company that brings a refreshing jolt of energy and innovation to the comic and graphic novel industry, today launched its Madefire App for iPad, featuring original, interactive works from Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons, as well as titles from other leading comic writers and graphic novelists. The Madefire App delivers a continuous flow of 'Motion Books', original stories each with their own unique and immersive experience, providing users with a comic or graphic novel experience like none other. Madefire titles are also optimized to take full advantage of iPad's leading features and functionality, including the gyroscope, accelerometer and stunning Retina display.
The Madefire App launches with three original comic and graphic novel titles, and four previews of future titles, including:
•"Treatment: Tokyo" by Dave Gibbons, Kinman Chan and Robbie Morrison
•"Treatment: Mexico City" by Dave Gibbons, Doug Braithwaite and Robbie Morrison
•"Mono" by Ben Wolstenholme and Liam Sharp
•"Captain Stone Is Missing. . ." by Liam Sharp & Christina McCormack
•"The Irons" by Haden Blackman & Gary Erskine
•"The Engine" by Guy Adams & Jimmy Broxton
•"Houses of the Holy" by Mike Carey and David Kendall
The first three titles include the first episode, introducing readers to the format, story line and characters. Subsequent episodes will be delivered to readers twice a month and users will be updated via Push Notification when the new episodes are ready to download.
"Madefire is igniting a new era by creating a modern, dynamic reading experience and bringing that to the millions of iPad users around the world," said Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen and advisory board member at Madefire. "It is exciting to be able to bring this robust storytelling into the 21st century while also democratizing the ability to publish comic books."
Madefire will also be making their publishing tools available to anybody who wants to create their own original comics or graphic novels in the Motion Book format. The basic tools will be available for free at http://www.madefire.com.
"Madefire allows creators to bring the excitement and intensity of comics ?and graphic novels to iPad in a truly interactive format," says Liam Sharp, Chief Creative Officer of Madefire. "We have seen these great innovations ?in other forms of entertainment such as gaming, movies and television, but reading has largely transferred words to the digital page without transforming the experience."
The Madefire executive team boasts an elite roster of technology and storytelling veterans with the passion and expertise to change the way we create and consume stories. Madefire was founded in 2011 by Ben Wolstenholme, CEO of Moving Brands, Liam Sharp, Chief Creative Officer at Madefire and a veteran comic book writer and artist, and Eugene Walden, CTO at Madefire and a seasoned technology entrepreneur and mobile pioneer. The team is also joined by creative superpowers Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen, the best-selling graphic novel of all-time, and Bill Sienkiewicz, widely recognized as one of the greatest innovators in the history of sequential art.
The Madefire App is available for free from the App Store on iPad or at ?www.itunes.com/appstore.
Founded in 2011 by Ben Wolstenholme, Liam Sharp and Eugene Walden, Madefire is backed by True Ventures. Madefire provides artists and writers a publishing solution for iPad allowing them to build their stories in an exciting new format. The Madefire Board of Advisors includes Mike McCue, CEO and Founder of Flipboard, Sina Tamaddon, former Senior Vice President of Applications for Apple Inc., Toni Schneider, CEO of Automattic, creators of WordPress.com, Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen, the bestselling graphic novel of all time, and Bill Sienkiewicz, widely recognized as one of the greatest innovators of sequential art. For more information go to madefire.com, or download the Madefire App for iPad.
Source: Press Release
Written or Contributed by: Jude Terror
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