I thought those here might be interested in this (rather hastily done) video that compares the user experience of reading comics on different platforms for the iPad.
The digital comics being looked at were all originally designed for print, but some of the general UX issues apply to all implementations of digital comics. In the same way that a print publisher cares about dust jackets, bindings, paper quality, end papers, frontispieces and title pages etc. digital publishers should care about their equivalents in the digital space. (As well as the quality of the actual content, of course.)
Panel Nine has recently published deluxe digital graphic novels by Eddie Campbell (Dapper John) and David Lloyd (Kickback) and is getting a lot of praise for the quality of its software and user experience.
I'd be happy to discuss any of the points raised in the video here.
Panel Nine, for its part, will be showing off some digital-first comics next month.
Panel 9 looks good, and it certainly succeeds at being intuitive. Normally I prefer to just tap things than to swipe, but that looks responsive enough that swiping makes a lot of sense. "Direct manipulation" I think he called it?
But yeah, it looks really good!
With Comixology it actually IS possible for the creators to set the viewing options– for instance my comic Power Play will always start in "guided view" format, no matter what the user settings are (I think the Marvel Infinite comics do too). I think Comixology also allows for the creators to set the the speed of the panel transitions… or maybe that's something they haven't implemented yet, but will be soon. I should be seeing them in a week or two, so I'll let you know!
The audio option in Panel 9 doesn't really interest me, especially because it appears to draw attention to itself like "there's audio on THIS page!" "But no audio here…" Like the way Marvel puts those AR things in the middle of their panels. It's just distracting.
But yeah, Panel 9 looks really great! Well thought out and designed comics reader. Interested in seeing more!
i do like the table of contents, that's a great bit of interactivity. like a dvd chapter selection. the extras is a nice touch. C:
I apreciate how you showed how too many steps just to get to the content is off putting, the second comic you showed (with the dino on the cover) was absolutely frustrating. at most you want a person to make 2 steps to get to what they are after, ideally 1 step.
I really like the fluidity of the panel nine version, none of that sticking or fancy page turn animation.
the panel mode is very awesome. the crop framing is a great touch.
unlike Reilly, I do like the audio option seeing as how I do artist commentary tracks for all my comics, and currently the only way i am doing them is via you tube where i basically do a library read along thing. it's akward, you would have to see it. is it a feature that is always present on the page, or is it say like a dvd where you go to the main menu and select the option to run the thing with the commentary present? that would be nice.
I will say in the end it would be nice if it could read all types of digital comics imported to it, like say cbr cbz or pdf. (mine are pdf counterparted with cbz cbr and swf file types) or at least have the option to do a quick conversion wen imported. it seems like a bit of a limitation if most of the books you like are not accessible because those creators aren't using this particular system.
but i do like it. C:
Thanks, Reilly and Smars for those thoughtful comments, and I'm really happy you like our approach.
The problem with importing other file types is that they're not formatted correctly to take advantage of features like Panel Mode, or the transitions or audio, or what's needed to get the no-pixellation smooth swiping experience. It's that formatting (which takes effort!) in the background, along with the solid software engineering we insist upon, that allows the user experience on Panel Nine apps to be the best out there.
FYI, We've got a new iPad magazine out about digital comics – it's FREE and can be downloaded from the App Store. It uses the Newsstand system. This has some cool new features and includes a free chapter of Eddie Campbell's Dapper John graphic novel.
Here's the info:
Panel Nine releases preview issue of new magazine devoted to digital graphic novels and comics
Panel Nine has launched the Preview issue of INFINITY a new magazine devoted to digital graphic novels and comics.
The magazine contains a roundup of digital comics news, features and reviews, and includes the Murderdrome strip previously banned by Apple, an interview with David Lloyd and a free chapter of Eddie Campbell's "Dapper John" digital graphic novel.
INFINITY publisher Russell Willis commented: “Digital delivery is a huge part of the future of comics and we’re launching INFINITY to cover things as they develop, debate the key issues such as user experience, platforms and pricing, interview the key players, and provide a guide for people to the good stuff. Appropriately the magazine is specially designed for the iPad, and contains audio, video and Panel Nine’s “Panel Mode” presentation of digital comics.”
INFINITY had a previous incarnation as a small press comics fanzine in the 80s, and now publisher Russell Willis has swapped his photocopier for an iPad and relaunched INFINITY for the digital age. The preview issue is out now, with the first issue proper available in September. The magazine will initially be published bi-monthly from then on.
Users can download the preview issue (and all subsequent issues) for free from iTunes
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