Kindle Comics

26. March 2009

I figure the way to get ahead in this funny-book business is to stay on top advancing technologies that have relevance to making and selling comics. That’s why I pioneered air-brush coloring in 1986 and why I got myself a Macintosh back in 1988 and taught myself how to use it, and with it produced Cyber-Lust, the world’s first computer-generated porn comic. Actually I don’t know if there have been any others, but these days computers dominate comics coloring and lettering and are making advances in penciling and inking, too.

I wasn’t the first to bring long-form comics from print to free-on-the-web (Lea Hernandez is to my knowledge the first to do that, and Phil Foglio’s Girl Genius and Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder series are much better known), but I see a lot more people coming up behind me on this path than in front of me.

So when Amazon.Com unveiled its Kindle2 dedicated e-book reader, I took notice. The specs said it has a 600×800 screen with 16 greys. Maybe, just maybe good enough to be an e-comics platform?

Since my brother Frank was also curious about this, he sprang for a Kindle2 and I went to work, experimenting with putting comics on this thing.

I found very quickly that, in the first place, that 600×800 spec is a tad misleading, because when the comics pages are compiled into a book they display at more like a maximum of 512×626 pixels. There is a “Zoom” feature that will bring a graphic up to the full 600×800 range but you can’t flip though pages in “zoom” mode. Hitting the “next page” button returns you to “normal” view mode and it requires three more button clicks to get the next page zoomed up. Clearly, artwork intended for this platform needs to look good within that 512×626 pixel frame.

I also found that a normal-sized comic page will not work in that resolution. The tones tend to get muddy and the lettering is too small to read. What’s required here, as with comics-on-phones, is to break the pages down into their component panels and re-assemble them into a frame about one-quarter the size of a typical comics page.

So, after fiddling around with samples pages and panels, I decided to create an actual Kindle comic, put it up for sale, and see what happened. For this experiment I took the political mini-comic I made last year, The Last Sonofabitch of Klepton, and spent about 6 hours cutting and pasting frames, adding an “apology to Siegel and Shuster” page and re-working the cover from its former landscape shape to Kindle’s portrait shape.

The book is now in the Kindle Store: you can see its Kindle web-page here. If you have a Kindle or Kindle2, you can buy it for 99 cents. If you’re a cheap bastard with a Kindle, you can get a free “sample” that contains almost half the book.

I think the results are pretty good, and apparently I’m not the only one: My Twitter tweet announcing the story has been bouncing around the Twitterverse, and someone who runs a blog called “Kindle Culture” gave it a favorable review.

So, onward. My next Kindle project will be reformatting TimePeeper, by L. Neil Smith and Sherard Jackson, and putting together Big Head Press’ first Kindle GN. This will take more than a few hours, and has to be done in my spare time, so it may be a few weeks, but I’ll announce it when it’s up in the store.

Kategorie anarchy, comics, Webcomics | 9 Kommentare »

9 Kommentare zu diesem Beitrag

  Topics about Comics » Archive » Kindle Comics schrieb @ March 27th, 2009 at 8:25 am

[...] The Great Geek Manual added an interesting post on Kindle ComicsHere’s a small excerptI figure the way to get ahead in this funny-book business is to stay on top advancing technologies that have relevance to making and selling comics. … [...]

  Harvey Morrell schrieb @ March 27th, 2009 at 9:09 am

Unfortunately, ’tis a tad too small to read on the iPhone/Touch version of the kindle app. Must save up for a real Kindle.

  Eli schrieb @ March 27th, 2009 at 9:30 am

Dammit. If I have to buy one of those Kindle Gadgets I’m blaming you. If the next version plays MP3′s I’ll have no excuse. I hope you sell a million copies!

  Scott Bieser schrieb @ March 27th, 2009 at 10:35 am

Harvey: Thanks for the feedback. I’d been wondering how it turned out for the iPhone. This gives me something to ponder.

Eli: Um, actually, the Kindle2 does play mp3s.

  Victor Mil├ín schrieb @ March 27th, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Way to keep flowing with the technology!

I like the fact of the Kindle’s existence more than the actual [current] implementation of it. A lot like iPhone, I guess. That you can’t page-flip in “Zoom” mode is the kind of problem I see. Along with lack of backlighting.

Then again Amazon seems pretty savvy about being open to potential new income streams – viz. the “Add th Wish List” button I have on my Bookmark bar, allowing me to put items on my Ammie Wish List that Ammie itself doesn’t sell. If webcomics start to move for them they’ll likely tweak the tech to accommodate them.

And of course your pioneering efforts are a major contribution to that process.

You read the Kindle pubbing terms very closely, I hope? I found ‘em a it scary, myself. Maybe they’ve changed them.

Anyway, congrats, great job, keep it coming!

  Bill St. Clair schrieb @ March 28th, 2009 at 8:46 am

I looked at the sample on my iPhone. The text on that small screen is a quite small, but, if I get close enough, I can convince my middle-aged eyes to read it. I’m tempted by the kindle, but think I’ll spend my money on a new scooter instead.

  Stephen Peters schrieb @ March 31st, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Thanks for the mention. I look forward to seeing the next project and plan to mention this one in the book.

  Joannah schrieb @ April 1st, 2009 at 7:05 am

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  BD schrieb @ June 18th, 2009 at 9:51 am

great blog, i enjoyed reading. thanks.. :)

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