Unique Comic App Hopes to Change the Way Comics Are Read on the iPad

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Toronto start up, The Comic Machine Inc., along with an investment from a new media fund, has released an immersive comic book iPad app that makes extensive use of moving layers.

Co-founder, John McLachlan, says, “We anticipate a day when tablet devices will be the predominate way literary works are consumed. You owe it to the reader to give them the full digital treatment instead of a straight import of print.”

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The Comic Machine comics are unique because they are created and optimized for digital viewing on the iPad without the constraints of adapting an existing print edition. The app uses xml code to control the display of dialogue bubbles and cropped images that float on layers above the page. With each tap the page builds and animates automatically and then rests to allow the user to read before loading the next set of actions.

The Comic Machine artists and writers are also unique to the industry. Concept artists who work in the video game industry were recruited to create completely digital art on multiple layers. The art file’s layers are then exported individually to create the floating sections. On the writing side, TV and film screenwriters, familiar with rich storylines and dialogue, were used to take advantage of refreshable word balloons and cinematic transitions such as zoom, fade and pan.

To date, the platform that is overwhelmingly used by most comic publishers is licensed by Comixology. Released in 2009, it’s Guided View reading technology invigorated digital comic sales. According to Comic Machine founder, Jim Woo, "The problem with Comixology, is that it's still based on a printed comic. They are basically taking flat comic art and zooming in on each panel.” Marvel and DC, who uses the Comixology software, has experimented with a digital format similar to The Comic Machine but without the rich digital features and all digital content.

The Comic Machine Inc. was founded in 2010 in Toronto, Canada by Jim Woo and John McLachlan who have careers in the ad industry. With an investment from Telefilm Canada’s CMF fund, the publisher set out to develop a new digital comic book platform for the iPad.

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