Big Nemo is here.
September 8, 2015 5:55 AM   Subscribe

Electricomics, Alan Moore's new free comics app for Apple tablets has arrived, and it comes with an anthology featuring work from Garth Ennis, Leah Moore, Colleen Doran and Big Al himself. Moore gives an interview about the project here.
posted by Paul Slade (15 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I think doing an open-format that includes all the bells and whistles of a Guided View Comixology book (plus more?) is a great idea. Unfortunately, an iOS-only release is not very useful to me.

Looking forward to this once the source is provided and/or it is released for Android.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:16 AM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

From their FAQ page, it appears that they do/did want to bring it to Android, but iOS was simpler. It also appears that they were working with an (primarily) iOS developer, so that may have had something to do with it too. Limited money seems to be their biggest hurdle.
posted by bonehead at 6:42 AM on September 8, 2015

Looking forward to this once the source is provided and/or it is released for Android.

If you read the FAQ you will realize that ain't going to happen any time soon. They have made a disastrous decision to tie themselves to a particular size screen. The project is, I think, is ultimately doomed because they have ignored the reality of the digital ecosystem. This is like insisting that people only watch movies in a movie theater.
posted by srboisvert at 6:44 AM on September 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

They have made a disastrous decision to tie themselves to a particular size screen.

That does sound like a problem. Not being able to see the system, I can't really understand why that is necessary, when no other comics reader has that limitation.

I guess at this point we can only hope that they are opening enough of the source code that the community can fix that.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:51 AM on September 8, 2015

This had to be posted on the first day for years when I haven't got my ipad to hand. Come on, home time...
posted by Segundus at 7:01 AM on September 8, 2015

It also doesn't work on older ios versions, either, irritatingly.
posted by dng at 7:17 AM on September 8, 2015

Somehow these tech issues don't surprise me. Honestly I would have expected it to be only compatible with Symbian 9.2 or something.
posted by kmz at 7:21 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Locked into portrait orientation for Big Nemo title, for no reason; in the early pages at least, that means portrait-only, but most of the screen blank to show only the single active panel, and given that it's a horizontal rectangle of a panel, there's no earthly reason why landscape and graphics scaling shouldn't be built-in. No in-app zoom functionality, which is an issue for terrible eyes given the spidery thin lettering. The app seems to be built around providing some animatic functionality--there's a bunch of the same panel background being used, each tap ahead simply changing the foreground figures and text bubbles, which is a nice option for digital comics, so that's a plus, though a minor one that'd turn gimmicky real quick.

But hey, free!
posted by Drastic at 7:51 AM on September 8, 2015

Downloaded the thing and played with it.

While it is sort of a neat novelty to include limited bits of animation and to explore the whole Scott McCloud infinite canvas business, I have to admit I prefer my comics to remain stationary.

The stories included don't have much in the way of substance, at least to me, but then my tastes lean more towards the work of Los Bros Hernandez and Robert Crumb and Daniel Clowes and suchlike. This felt more like a start-up attempting to attract attention to itself, than any kind of legit effort to make good comics.

If anybody solves the problem of making digital comics for multiple screens, please let me know. I'm trying to make my own comics right now, with the intent of self-publishing them to Gumroad.

I imagine people are going to be reading comics on devices more and more, probably smart phones. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, it's been one hell of a design challenge. It's a real struggle to come up with a layout that works for all of the different resolutions and proportions floating around out there.
posted by KHAAAN! at 7:55 AM on September 8, 2015

I can't really understand why that is necessary, when no other comics reader has that limitation.

Not having seen it either, I wonder if this isn't mostly an aspect ratio issue? Surely they can scale the art, but perhaps they don't want black bars on the screen? Choosing a few iOS models means that only have to worry about a single aspect ratio and text size.

Comics on most phones, even the big ones are pretty sub-par in my experience. This is one place where a bigger tablet really shines. An iPad mini however, is a much wider screen (in portrait) than a Nexus 7. Scaling the wide iOS screen to an Android one might look pretty terrible. Newer Android tablets are going 4:3, but many of the older ones were 16:10 or even 16:9 (which incidentally is perfect for a traditional comic book page).
posted by bonehead at 9:56 AM on September 8, 2015

I always hate reading comics on screens smaller than a standard comic page, but maybe I'm just so used to that size that anything else just feels wrong.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:59 AM on September 8, 2015

A traditional comic page (full-bleed) seems to be around 7 inches wide x 10.5 inches high, or 12.6 inch diagonal.

I've found that a Nexus 10, with a bang-on 16:10 aspect ratio at ~10 in diagonal is pretty close to the comic book page experience. It's only around 2/3 the area, but it works well enough. An iPad at 4:3 has a similar viewing area, but has black bars on either side. That's single page only, I find double page spreads are uncomfortably small on either device.

I don't like the smaller mini devices, either the iPad or the Nexus 7 say, at all---too small. They're in pan and zoom territory, at least with my eyesight.
posted by bonehead at 10:20 AM on September 8, 2015

I mostly read comics on an LG 10" tablet and its fucking awesome. I have full runs of comics I never finished as a kid (Darkhawk, 90s Robin) and comics that are out of print (Ostrander's Suicide Squad). The high quality scans allow you to zoom in and out, rotate to look at double page layouts, and zoom in on the details Its great. I also have full runs of comics that I own in hardbound editions or in storage, and its great being able to carry them all around at once.

I guess what I'm saying is that digital comics are great but I feel like we've already found an excellent solution in the many free or cheap comics readers that already exist.

(This also reminds me about Earwolf's Howl App, which should probably get a FPP after they sort out the clusterfuck of a launch. Its an iOS 'sclusie and really frustrating to use on a browser.)
posted by kittensofthenight at 11:22 AM on September 8, 2015

So. They realize you can take screenshots from iOS devices, right?

So what exact advantage does this provide over a browser?
posted by jefflowrey at 3:04 PM on September 8, 2015

Yeah a 10"+ tablet is amazing for reading comics. We've got a Surface Pro 3 and that is probably what I use it most for (it's really my wife's computer. I am sure she puts it to better use).
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:20 PM on September 8, 2015

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