Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tech Tuesday: comiXology (@comixology)

You have likely noticed more comic book posting from me of late. Blame comiXology for that. ComiXology is a comic book distributor that deals in print and digital media, and the digital is what we will be looking at here. You can view their comics in your computer's web browser or get their applications for iPhone/iPad or Android.

There are a lot of cool things with digital comics. For one, you don't have to deal with the comic book store, if like me your only comic book store is full of aging tools who think they are special because they work in a comic book store. Second, there are many free comics or preview issues to help you get a feel for lesser known titles and publishers. Third is hardest to get used to, but the point of this post; comiXology's "Guided View Technology."

What the guided tour does is walk you through the comic bit by bit rather than a page at a time. Double tap a panel, and it will fill the screen, then rather than advance page by page it will advance panel by panel (or portions of panels, depending on panel size). You can also set the preferences to display the full page before going to panels and afterwards, so you could set it up to show the entire page, then panel, panel, panel, then the entire page and so on. It is a fairly neat feature, but is not forced on you.Some comics seem to make better use of this. The panel advance with at times help build the tension by hiding part of the panel for dramatic effect. Others do a fairly straight walk-through.

ComiXology appears to be the major digital distributor, and their application will provide the big three (Marvel, DC, Image) as well as less prominent publishers like Dynamite. The only major publisher that seems to be off their system is Dark Horse (comiXology does have a few DH titles). Also, it appears that Marvel is only available on the iPhone/iPad applications.

When you look for digital comics applications, you will likely see all the various publishers listed, but as far as I have seen all (save for Dark Horse) are run by comiXology, so having an application for each publisher is for the most part unnecessary. However, it is likely that some titles or issues may only be available through the publisher applications. Yet another failing of the application-centric way of doing business these days.

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