Today on Caine's Digital Comic Watch, we are happy to present to you an interview with one of the leaders of iPhone Comics Revolution, Emiliano Molina, creator of ComicZeal and ComicZeal Sync!
For people not familiar with ComicZeal, how would you describe it?
Hi Jim, thanks for the opportunity to talk to you and your readers. ComicZeal is a comic book reader for the iPhone. It allows users to take their digital comics with them and use the iPhone's fantastic interface to read comics in a very natural way.
What are some of the advantages of ComicZeal over some of your competitors?
ComicZeal is the most mature comic reader on the app store and we treat customer feedback very seriously. For our customers this means that ComicZeal is simply the most feature rich and easy to use comic reader on the App Store.
For example, we've spent a lot of time working on the behavior of the zoom and are quite comfortable in saying it's the best available. What makes a difference are little details like a double-tap switching between zoom out and the last zoom that the user selected, or maintaining the zoom level between pages.
A lot of users requested customizations for reading manga so we've implemented a feature where CZ detects if you're reading manga or a western-style comic and adjusts accordingly.
Recently we added the ability to take a screenshot so you can use an image in a comic as your iPhone wallpaper. A feature that only one customer ever requested, but it was so fantastic we just had to implement it.
What is ComicZeal Sync?
ComicZeal Sync is a companion program to ComicZeal that allows users to move their own digital comics into ComicZeal.
The iPhone is such a great device that it's sometimes easy to forget its limits. Early in the development of ComicZeal we experimented with moving full-size unprocessed comics to the device but found that it could just not handle the compression and size of those files without becoming unacceptably slow.
ComicZeal Sync processes images, cbr cbz and pdf files and converts them into a format that ComicZeal can easily handle. ComicZeal couldn't be as responsive or pleasant to use without it.
Does ComicZeal come with free content? How much?
Yes, thanks for asking! There are a couple of hundred comics that can be downloaded from within ComicZeal. One collection that I'm sure your readers will be familiar with is your very own 'Flashback Universe', the rest are a variety of Golden Age Comics.
How long have you been developing on the Apple/iPhone platform?
I'd been toying with the idea of developing for the Mac for a couple of years but never got past the initial learning curve. Then I got an iPod touch and was absolutely hooked on the possibilities of the device. So all up it's been about a year now.
How would you describe your experience selling apps via iTunes? Is there anything you would change?
I think that all developers for the iPhone will agree that the application approval process needs improvement. What we need most of all is consistent reviewers. It's very frustrating to submit an application and have it bounced for a feature of graphical item that's been there for months.
What features would you like to see Apple add to the iPod/iPhone devices?
The software update that's due sometime in the next few months is going to address a lot of items on my wish list. From a development point of view I'm very excited about the in-app purchase option which will open up new markets.
The truth is that the developers are still working out everything these devices can do. I'm not as excited about what new features Apple will add as I'm excited about what developers will come up with.
The huge user base of the devices and the obvious willingness of users to buy software for them means that even if the devices don't change, there will continue to be exciting developments for years and years to come.
What do you predict for the future of Apple devices? (An iTablet perhaps?)
Tablet? definitely. Apple clearly has all the components and technologies in place to make the form factor work. I've been predicting a tablet from them for years. I look sillier every year that passes, but it's getting close, my Apple sense is tingling.
The real enabler for that device is the operating system software that they've created for iPhone. The hardware for a tablet has been around for a long time, what has been lacking so far has been the software. With the iPhone Apple has shown that a tablet (even a tiny one) can work, and they've patented the heck out of it so that now it almost HAS to be Apple that delivers a successful device.
Obviously from the point of view of the comics industry, a popular and cheap tablet has the ability to bring millions of people to the format.
How long have you been reading comics?
As an adult, I've only been reading comics for a couple of years. I just didn't realize how many mature and intelligent stories were available only in that format. More importantly, I hadn't realized how many stories could ONLY be told through comics.
A co-worker bought me back into the fold when he brought into work the his 'Strikeforce: Morituri' collection. It took a while for me to get started but once I did I was hooked again.
So much fun, so many great stories.
What are some of your favorite comics recently?
I'v e tried and tried to get into the mainstream Marvel/DC comics but just haven't been able to. Superheroes haven't appealed to me very much.
As a huge science fiction fan I've been very impressed by 'Y: The last man' and 'Ministry of Space'.
All time favorite storyline/comic?
My most enjoyed series is definitely 'Y - The Last Man'. I'm often tempted to pick up the first TPB again but am reserving it for a special occasion. I also thoroughly enjoyed the first issue of 'Ministry of Space' but that's very much to do with the artwork, specifically the design of the ships.
Thank you Emil!
Have a great weekend!