Friday, September 10, 2010

Digital Comics Watch | Dateline

I can't exactly remember how I stumbled on to Flashback Universe. I imagine it was a google search for "digital comics" or something close to it that brought me here. Having all ready downloaded CDisplay I was eager for digital comics to read with it that were on the up & up and I was astounded when I found the FBU.

Raven & RuneWraith in particular grabbed my attention and I can remember scouring all of the available downloads to get another few pages of either character. Sadly there is precious little of either of them in the current offerings.

That brought me to the Character page, which in turn led me to the extra's page, and that in turn led me to the donate page. You see where I'm going here? You had to donate to get a peek behind the curtain. I wanted to look so I donated. It was my first Paypal transaction ever, in fact I had to get an account and do all that goes along with that to make the donation.

That got me Jim's email. :)

Jim's life has never been the same, you can be sure of that that.

I began emailing him a couple times a week. First it was about the FBU and clarifying questions to make sure I understood the entire "line" of comics. Then I began emailing him ideas for other books he could do. I was intrigued to find out that Jim and Pierre have created a lot more characters than whats shown on the web site and I wanted to know more about them.

I wanted to know why he hadn't done a "who's who" type of book which I personally loved.

I subscribed to this blog and I can remember when he started doing the Paper Comics Death Watch. Since I'm also a gadget freak I kept running into gadgets and other tech that I thought could be used, or adapted to be used in comics. I would send Jim links to them, sometimes they'd show up in the PCDW posts. Sometimes not.

After the 20th suggestion or so Jim asked if I wanted to write a post on his blog, maybe do a column. This only emboldened me further so I began pitching comics to him. Some intrigued him, others not so much, but I eventually intrigued him enough to actually do a Raven comic (which is scripted, finished, & turned in).

Soon after Jim began listing me on the contributor page.

The bloging I've done, until recently, has centered around "Digital Comics". That is: comics read on a device rather than printed on paper. The news in this department has been lacking as of late. Let's review:

For the last year or so we've been blogging about tablets. Sometimes it was nothing more than rumors, but they seemed like strong rumors when we passed them off to you. Some looked, and still do look really cool:

The Plastic: A flexible tablet no thicker than a sheaf of paper updated through RSS over wifi. I'd still love to have one.

The Courier: A tablet from Microsoft designed to take on the iPad head on. This one might of had two screens that folded up.

Touchbook: The tablet where the screen and the keyboard separate. I tried to buy one, what a mess.

Crunchpad: Rumors of this one hit the internet before the iPad even launched. The pedigree of the people behind Crunchpad seemed just right. Everyone was sure this would get made.

Where are they all now? They may be in development, or some stage of it, but what about comics? Nothing really.

Within the same year we've brought you news regarding websites with built in comic book readers, or branded reader software that could be downloaded.

Comics XP: They pitched bridging the gap between comics delivered over the internet to a reader and comics bought at a comic book shop by selling digital comics on SD cards at comic shops. I thought it was clever.

Carbonated Comics: There really hasn't been much movement over at CC at all. On twitter they've stated that it's been tough to do what they're attempting and it looks like their right.

Longbox: The iTunes of digital comics with a built in marketplace. Two or three announcements regarding Longbox made quite a splash - even at the SDCC.

Where are they all now? They may be in development, or some stage of it, but what about comics? Comics XP has a single page web site up stating that they will return with an update coming soon. Carbonated is still up and offering comics. Longbox is nowhere to be found.


We've blogged about completely digital initiatives such as Wowio, Zuda and others even fewer of you will remember. Team FBU even had a few comics pitched to Zuda. Some got in, some didn't.

Where are they all now? They may be in development, or some stage of it, but what about comics? None really.


I blogged about a few other things one could classify as "Digital Comics". One in particular has actually continued to move right along if not get larger in scope: Podcasting.

The Red Panda Adventures: Keeping 1930s Toronto safe from gangsters, racketeers and power-mad supervillains - Thrill once again to the tales of that Masked Man of Mystery; The Red Panda! All-new tales of two-fisted pulp justice!

Batman: The Ace of Detectives: Is an ongoing monthly serial adventure based on the modern incarnation of the character in DC Comics.

Justice League Heroes.

Playing for keeps.

This area, by far, has seen the most news. Comixology, PanelFly,, Iverse, ComicZeal and more have all been reported on here at the FBU and all over the net over and over again. So much so that we've become quite picky about which Comic App news we bring you since it's all over the place for you to find.s the comic book industry, as a whole, better or worse because of any of the items listed above? Are readership numbers up? Are sales up? Are comics more attractive to younger people? Ladies? Citizens outside of the U.S.?

We can't answer that yet. It's too early still. One things for sure though, we'll need more than another year (give or take) to make a determination one way or another.

If team FBU were to put out another comic book how would all of you prefer to receive it? A CBR file? A PDF file? A comic book app? Have any of you read any of the FBU comics on the ROBOT COMICS app/system? Do you like that? What about a "floppy" that we've cursed to death by 2015 here at the FBU? Would any of you like to read an actual paper comic book in your hands? Are any of you listeners of audio fiction? Podcasts? Would you be interested in a Tales of the FBU podcast?

We'd love to know what you think, honestly.

Have a great weekend,



MattComix said...

I kinda feel like on-screen is FBU's natural home since part of the fun of it is the use modern of tech to present comics with a classic sensibility.

I think some tweaking to the webcomic page might be in order (not that it's bad as-is) and have you guys considered making the comics the frontpage as opposed to the blog?

I'll confess something. I have downloaded one of the FBU comics and read it not even using cbr but simply opening the folder and scrolling through the pages in Windows Vista PhotoGallery using the buttons in the bottom center. Photogallery also lets me zoom in on parts of the art I really like.

Since I can see all the pages when I open the folder it's pretty easy to hop around if I am just wanting to go to a particular page since they are all in front of me.

One thing I do very much enjoy about FBU comics is that they're made with the screen in mind and because of this they are truly widescreen. I like this because the art is allowed to "breathe" more than it would in standard floppy format.

So if you guys were ever do a physical book I'd love for that to feel to be kept. Jim and Pierre have heard me mention David Peterson's Mouseguard which is published 8X8. Sounds weird I know and it might seem an odd choice of for a superhero comic but it's amazing what a difference it can make just having that much more width for the art.

Luke H. said...

I'd like to see it released as a plain old cbr but I also think you'd get better exposure by releasing it to an app like Comixology. I don't have an iPad yet but, when I do, that would be how I would prefer to read the book. You guys have so much good material here but it just feels like it is hidden away kind of.


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