Friday, September 4, 2009

Digital Comics Industry Spotlight 1:

Carbonated ComicsGentleman start your engines because the time trials for the pole position in the race to deliver you your digital comics in a pleasing, easy to use format/setting that is profitable to publishers has begun.

Of course you knew that, Darkhorse and Boom(among others) partnered with MySpace to kick the digital comic book industry into gear. That was followed closely by Marvel putting up its digital library for subscription, and then DC'S Zuda imprint/competition. However, did those events kick off a"Digital Comic Book Industry"?

You may or may not of heard of other sites/services such as WOWIO, DriveThroughComics, EyeMelt and other newer services such as Comicsxp, the much buzzed about Longbox and our subject of this weeks blog post: CARBONATED COMICS.

Will these services, some having yet to even launch, create a"Digital Comic Book Industry"? I'm here to say: YES. The first step is upon us as of right now.

Carbonated Comics Site

Their Site:
Simple, cross platform, and to the point an extremely easy (and attractive) web site to click on. Their focus is clearly on comics. A list of available "featured" comics runs down the center of the page. Down the right are searchable categories and down the left are the few tools they offer. Prime among them is the CARBONATOR, Carbonated Comics Comic Reader Software which you can download or obtain via CD from the website (or event where they may be handing them out - such as Dragon*Con this weekend).

Their Reader:
The Carbonator shares several features with other popular readers such as the file types it will open/read, thumb nails for each page, mouse controls and hot buttons to customize how the comic fits on the screen and is enjoyed by the reader.

Carbonator Reader

The folder that the Carbonator last read from has its contents displayed as thumbnails in the main window. Along the left Meta Data can be displayed, below that are the player controls. The software is streamlined and, like their web site, focused on your enjoyment of the comics.

It does take a minute for all the pages to populate, but once you click on "Player"...

Things start happening (ignore that little box up in the top left, its the screen capture control box..oops). After taking it for a spin I have to say the Carbonator does a great job at delivering you the comic page by page, or even panel by panel if you choose to read that way.

The Carbonator does have its draw backs. The largest of them is that the comics them selves take a minute to load fully in the side panel. In addition, the tutorial in the "help" section doesn't seem to be functioning 100% as of yet (I tweeted that to @ccomics and they assured me that this has been addressed and will be fully functioning soon).

Whats nice about it though is how streamlined it is. There isn't a lot of advertising or branding built into the reader, the menu at the top is purposefully sparse and to the point, the button controls at the bottom are general on purpose and it all functions just as you think it would upon opening it.

By that I mean the right arrow gets you to the next page, the left arrow takes you back to the previous page, and the +/- buttons make the page larger and smaller.

But that's not all. By holding down the control key you can rotate the pages with the mouse and by holding down the Alt key you bring up a magnifying glass that can be dragged across the screen to get a better look at the page in a 2X3 inch clear window. The magnifying glass, although a bit surprising at first, I found to work well. It allowed me to zoom in on tiny details without moving/zooming the enitre page.

All in all, a nice experience that was easy to use with little instructions, and very enjoyable.

On a side note, when you download the Carbonator, you'll notice a button on the control panel that looks like it controls the audio volume of your comic books. When I asked about it, I was told that yes sure enough it was for volume control and future downloads will have dvd style audio commentary.

While their initial offering does not yet contain anything from the "Big Three" publishers I found a fairly moderate variety of titles and genres to choose from. Also, it would seem that nearly half of the books in their current roster are free for you to enjoy. NOTE: In the example images, I was using a comic that is not, at this time, offered at Carbonated Comics.

In addition to comics they offer a regular newsletter and are active with social media including Twitter, Facebook, and ComicSpace.

They host a forum for fans/readers to conglomerate and probably get help. A detailed help page. A sellers application when you're ready to sell your own comics (That's right I'm talking to you Jim). and even a free Digitization Service to assist the creators in getting their comics in the .CBX format.

If you haven't clicked over there yet then you should seriously consider it. Or, if your near Dragon*Con go check em out in person.

Have a great weekend,


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