Wednesday, July 22, 2009

iPod and iPhone Concessions

To paraphase Stan Lee, With Great Opportunties comes Great Work, so for the past week, I've been reworking our League of Monsters By Butterfly Betrayed comic into a format that will be better suited for the iPod/iPhone.

It's been an eye opening experience as I've had to change many pages from the way we originally made them. For example, here is the Roll Call Page as created by Pierre:

While I love the heads for each character that flank the main panel, on the iPod, this just didn't seem to be working. So, I felt it was best to break out the text in the yellow box onto a separate page and make a new Roll Call page.

Revised Roll Call

In some cases, the revisions were simply a matter of breaking out panels onto their this page with 3 panels...

Which would look like this on the iPod - making the text too small to read.

Now becomes these two screens...

Sometimes it was necessary to move balloons and add some text to make a better transistion - like in this case with the Blood Vs Butterfly scene

I felt the text was too small so I reworked the page like this:

Sometimes, I just have to completely redesign a page using the existing art to make something we can use. This page with a diagonal panel layout was such a case. It *might* have worked on the iPod, but odds are the text would be hard to read.

So I broke it out like this which I think will work better on the iPod. Not a perfect revisioning, but I think it shows the story better.

So far, this has been a good deal of work, and some people might question why I'm going through all this trouble. Well, the answer is, Pierre and I have always prided ourselves for designing comics to be read in a digital format (CBR) so it would have been a hard pill to swallow to see iPod versions of our comics that were hard to read.

There are several companies making comics for the iPod now (we've been approached by nearly every single one of them) and I just wasn't happy with how those companies were handling the conversion process. Many of them don't seem to care about readability or the user experience.

It wasn't until recently that I was contacted by a company (who will remain nameless for right now) who really had an amazing system to handle the formatting process that I decided the time was right to convert one of comics into the iPod format. Like I say, it wasn't a slam dunk, as I've had to do a good deal of rework. It's been a real learning experience, but in the end I'm hoping I'll understand what you can do in this format well enough to capitalize on it when Pierre and I begin our next League of Monsters comic!

I hope this helps anyone else out there working on an iPod comic.

- Jim


Sphinx Magoo said...

Wow. This is pretty fascinating. As a web developer, I had to jump thru plenty of hoops to get images to read well in JPG or Flash format so I'm interested in the technical aspects of this.

Would it be possible to have the text balloons animate in some way so that they expand to a larger size when touched?
(I ran into this once for a client who wanted a large promotional timeline chart squeezed onto an HTML page. I had to create a series of rollover animations for each event on the chart. Technically satisfying, but, oh, those last minute changes...!)

What sizes do you have to convert each of the images to be converted to iPod-legible format?

How do you go from a series of images to something which can be read on an iPod?

Is there a way to test your comic on a computer before bringing it onto your iPod? I'd imagine that'd be a bit of a time-saver for making quick edits and such.

If this info is all available someplace else, just let me know. I'm not trying to pick your brain and steal your secrets. (I have other devices for that...) Like I said, I'm interested from a technical geek point of view.

I wonder if iPod comics wiwll look more like this ( in the future...

Jim Shelley said...

Sphinx Magoo - You ask a lot of questions that I think would make a good follow up article for next Wednesday. Can you wait a week while I track down all the pertinent information and links to resources that will help flesh out my answers?

Sphinx Magoo said...

Cool! Thanks!

Caine said...

Ok, now you (those associated with FBU)need to start a service where you rework comics to fit the ipod...

Great job Jim.


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