Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Digital | 30 Comments

Thrillbent launched yesterday at noon EST, and it was a crazy exciting day for the entire team. Ann Hess, in particular–who’s been doing all the heavy lifting on the website build, design, and maintenance–deserves a huge round of applause, as does our own Lori Matsumoto. Not bad for a launch, not bad at ALL.

Under the ever-present heading of “Transparency,” here’s my takeaway from the first-day experience:

1) In retrospect, we needed navigation instructions, since added by Lori. This is on me, not on anyone els

e. Here I am, working overtime to make sure that the content itself is perfectly new-reader-friendly and not too inside-baseball…and instead I took for granted that most users would know to click on the semitransparent navigation arrows. (Also, I took for granted that the arrows were as obvious to everyone as they were to me.) So noted. Fixed.

2) There is no such thing as too much proofreading. Fifty sets of eyes, at least, have reviewed that first chapter of INSUFFERABLE, and I’ve been staring at it for MONTHS…and we all still missed the “that/than” typo near the end (also in the process of being fixed as soon as Lori can upload the update). I also missed another blatant typo that no one’s yet commented on, but hopefully by the time you read this, it’ll be fixed, as well, so don’t bother hunting. I know none of this is a big deal to most of you, but as a lifelong stickler for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, it kills me. BUT…

3) “Done” doesn’t mean “done.” That I can correct this stuff relatively immediately is a great, unique-to-digital feeling.

4) I spent too much time worrying that there weren’t enough bells and whistles. Pete and I completed the first few installments of INSUFFERABLE long before my work on the Marvel Infinite Digital Comic and as we approached our launch date, I started to sweat that we should be doing more of those nifty effects we did in the Infinite book. Based on the feedback, very few people minded that INSUFFERABLE wasn’t chock-full of effects. That said, we’ve come up with some neat ones in upcoming weeks that I don’t think anyone’s yet done.

5) Google Analytics is a rabbit hole that I could stare at for hours.

More soon. And thanks to all of you for helping us launch better and stronger than we’d ever dreamed!

30 Comments

  1. Harold C. Jennett III
    May 2, 2012

    I had trouble figuring out how to set up an RSS feed JUST for insufferable. I tried, but all I got was a feed for “Recent Posts”.

    Just some feedback. :)

    Reply
  2. Tom Dell'Aringa
    May 2, 2012

    Question: The pages don’t fit well onto the iPad screen, you have to do a little adjusting. Did you consider this? It seemed to me since this was a definite digital project, that you would kind of work backward from the most popular digital device for size (which could still be printed fine).

    Reply
    • Steve Broome
      May 2, 2012

      The most popular digital device for a venture like this would likely be desktop computers.

      Reply
    • John Rogers
      May 2, 2012

      Actually, the pages are perfectly formatted for the iPad screen — in pdf (and, eventually, the app). We did NOT anticipate the fact that the most popular browser for iPad, Safari, wouldn’t go fullscreen, while the browser I prefer, Atomic, does. Live and learn.

      Valid question about whether we tweak resolution with a redirect in the near future.

      Reply
      • Jason Goldsmith
        May 4, 2012

        This is a good lesson.

        Rule #1: Always test with the default browser on any platform you will support (unless you’re brave and decide you don’t need IE, this has worked for some people)

        You should be able to do various different customized sizes for a multitude of platforms, if you want to. I don’t know what your back end is, but you should be able to do it there. If not, you can always do it in browser.

        I think one interesting question will be if it is worth the extra bandwidth charges (for hosting and for end users) to support the crazy resolution on the Retina display iPads.

        Reply
  3. Chris Sotomayor
    May 2, 2012

    Even with the few hiccups I think it’s a rousing success. Thanks for leading the charge and congratulations.

    Reply
  4. Tom McCraw
    May 2, 2012

    I like the digital editing part. Especially that something can be fixed even after the release date.

    Off to a great start!

    Reply
  5. Carlton Donaghe
    May 2, 2012

    Yeah, this is a game-changer. I’m really impressed, and I have a lot of respect for the entire team and their vision.

    Mr. Waid, you deserve to feel very proud.

    (And it’s just COOL.)

    Reply
  6. Kevin Peterson
    May 2, 2012

    I agree with Tom above, the difference between the comic and the iPad/iPhone screen is just…. (holds up two fingers to signify size) …different enough to make it slightly awkward to view.

    Other than that? Rad.

    Reply
  7. Derec Donovan
    May 2, 2012

    Along with the Infinite Comics a Bold step in the right direction, Kudos to All involved!

    Reply
    • Bill Williams
      May 3, 2012

      Whatever Derec says goes double for me.

      Reply
  8. Andrew Kardon
    May 2, 2012

    Looks great! And Google Analytics can easily take a few years off your life, so be careful.

    Reply
  9. Tim Simmons
    May 2, 2012

    Did you wander into Analytics “Real Time” section? Holy crap, talk about gazing into a black hole of timesink.

    As far as typos: Being on the web is both the best and worst thing for typos. The best, because it’s easily correctable, and future generations will never know there was a mistake originally “printed”– The worst, because your audience has instant access to comment sections, and they LOOOOVE to call people out on mistakes!

    Congrats on the launch!

    Reply
  10. newsguy777
    May 2, 2012

    Hey mark,

    I really enjoyed Insufferable. I was wondering if you could add a comment’s section to the comics? Or to the individual pages?

    It’s just that i wanted to say basically what i’m saying here, but there was no place on the site to tell you that.

    … Anyway, i know you probably hear it all the time but keep up the good work :)

    Reply
  11. Karl Kesel
    May 2, 2012

    Yes– a rousing success. And will only get better, I’m sure.

    FYI: I had a similar navigation problem when I first posted Johnny Zombie over on my site. I figured people were Much More Web Savvy than me, and would know how to click through the posting. Wrong! Which is why there are navigation instructions on the bottom of every story page now.

    So: Happens to the best of us. And to me.

    Reply
  12. djcoffman
    May 2, 2012

    There’s no worse feeling for a creator when you post a strip and some of the first feedback is a type from readers that you have to rush and fix. Well, there are worse feelings, but that one totally sucks. Happens to EVERYONE in webcomics. I’m glad my superfans usually catch it before any haters do. Ha!

    One thing about your “pageviews” I wouldn’t count them as much since you are using a gallery plugin, it does NOT count every image change as a pageview. So you could guestimate how many unique visitors you had visit the Comic’s individual page and assume they read it I suppose. I’ve always leaned toward telling people unique visitor numbers over pageviews. Since you’re not worried about AD revenue based on CPM or anything, throw pageviews out the window. It’s all about how many unique sets of eyeballs went to the page (or pages)

    This is not only going to be AWESOME, but will be even awesomer when there’s a new feature or two to check up on each day.

    Reply
  13. Elliot Blake
    May 2, 2012

    Terrific debut, Mark – congratulations to you and Peter and everyone involved with Thrillbent. There’s some inspiring work going on here, and I’m looking forward to seeing and learning more.

    Reply
  14. Carlton Donaghe
    May 2, 2012

    Mr. Waid, have you– or anyone else here, hey!– ever heard of the children’s illustrator Dani Jones?

    Dani Jones has been making and selling PDF comics for the iPad for at least a couple of years now. She has a series called “My Sister, the Freak.” These are traditionally-formatted comics, but made for the smaller “page area” of the iPad screen.

    I discovered her last night, doing research. I think you should really visit her site, danidraws.com. I think she has some experience you might could talk to her about.

    I wrote her to tell her of what is going on here at your site, and what potential you are unleashing.

    I think that digital comics also have the ability to reach an audience that comic shops simply can’t. I agree with you that comic shops serve only a very small and limited market. It has become an audience with very specific and peculiar tastes.

    An artist like Dani Jones– whom I would not call an “indie” artist by any means– represents an entirely different market that digital comics could reach.

    I would be interested in seeing her adopt some of the techniques you are presenting here.

    Anyway, I think it would be great to bring her type of comics back to comics.

    Reply
  15. Jack Briglio
    May 2, 2012

    Mark, did you guys debate whether to keep the “hello is this thing on” balloon visible after jumping to the next screen (from screen 1 to 2)? Might be a smoother effect hiding it at screen 2. My two cents.

    Great first issue. Looking forward to more,

    …Jack

    Reply
  16. Rich Johnston
    May 3, 2012

    Bleeding Cool has the GetClicky analytic thing. It is mesmerising….

    Reply
  17. Thursday Runaround – Free Comic Book Worlds | | The Dark Knight Rises ReviewsThe Dark Knight Rises Reviews
    May 3, 2012

    [...] 24 Hours Later: What I’ve Learned So Far – MARK WAID Under the ever-present heading of “Transparency,” here’s my takeaway from the first-day experience: [...]

    Reply
  18. Daniel Govar (saulone)
    May 3, 2012

    Well done! I realyl like the super-clean interface and that you’ve made the content king (which it is!)

    I’m looking forward to seeing these titles grow over the coming months and to see some of the creators play more with the digital medium. Kudos to all involved!

    Reply
  19. Gary LaPointe
    May 3, 2012

    Loved the lessons learned post!!! :)

    And I liked the flow (something about Luther just didn’t flow right, mostly on the panels where the missing frames dropped in).

    Speaking of Google, I don’t think I’d leave a category called “uncategorized”. Yes, Google’s formula is a secret, but (if I were them) if it’s not important to categorize, is it important to index? That said, they’ll index it, but help them to index it properly. (You’ll take a slight hit on the six pages indexed already when they move, but I think it’s worth it myself).

    On the digital front, I need to be able to put it on my device so I can read it later. You mentioned something about PDF the other day, but I didn’t see a download.

    Excellent work!
    Gary

    Reply
  20. Gary LaPointe
    May 3, 2012

    Oops speaking of digital:

    And of course, some people read comics with something like Comic Zeal or Simple Comic or other readers while they are off-line. If you’re going to do PDF, consider the other the CBR or CBZ format. If you don’t, someone else will (if they’re scanning paper they’ll certainly convert digital) it might not be the way you like it. And be sure to put in a page or two of credits at the end with URLs references to other books (or a letters page!). Don’t let these books float around the ‘net (and they will get there) without them being in the format you want with the references or links you want; once it’s off your site you want people to find their way back.

    Speaking of Google again: maybe use some tags in your posts and pages too, so that Google can find even more related things.

    Reply
    • lori
      May 3, 2012

      We are absolutely going to utilize tags on Thrillbent — just haven’t gotten to it quite yet!

      Reply
  21. Jazyl H
    May 9, 2012

    Over the last 3 days I’ve been through your entire blog & I have to say being a webcomic artist, It is filled with amazing insight & useful information. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
  22. Jim Fallone
    May 10, 2012

    I would encourage the web and in-browser reading to be your primary target. More time is spent on the web on iPads than any app. http://www.surl.org/usabilitynews/132/iPad.asp

    The computer is still one of the largest segments of digital content reading and based on recent usage studies the iPad is still primarily used as window to the web.

    Reply

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