×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How Madefire Is Changing the Visual Grammar of Comics

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the artist-discretion-is-advised dept.

Books 74

waderoush writes "When you read a comic book or graphic novel on your tablet device, you're usually looking at a static reproduction of a print page, not a 'born digital' creation with serious interactivity. Madefire, a new startup in Emeryville, CA, is working to change that with the release today of its new iPad reader and comic-book authoring tool. Featuring seven original titles at launch — including one from Watchmen creator Dave Gibbons — the Madefire platform largely abandons traditional panel layouts in favor of 'sequences' in which the action progresses through the addition of image layers, as well as sound effects and music. 'We want to make people look at the fabric of storytelling—left to right, top to bottom—and break that fabric,' says Madefire founder Ben Wolstenholme. The company is also avoiding well-known superhero titles in favor of new characters and storylines. 'This century needs its new creations and its new myths and legacies,' says chief creative officer Liam Sharp, a veteran of X-Men, Spider-Man, Spawn, and other well-known traditional series."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

74 comments

But... Didn't that already happen? (5, Funny)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#40416995)

'We want to make people look at the fabric of storytelling—left to right, top to bottom—and break that fabric,' says Madefire founder Ben Wolstenholme.

Ah, so he wants to make manga?

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (5, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#40417023)

Crap. Forgive the self reply. I've no idea how I let Dark Horse Motion Comics [darkhorse.com] slip my mind.

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417075)

Marvel has some motion comics, too, wasn't a fan myself, but to each his own.

This looks a little more interactive, the video on madefire.com shows the user adjusting perspective by tilting, etc.

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418327)

lol "motion comics". i love how they try to invent a new name for a fucking cartoon.

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (4, Insightful)

Ghostworks (991012) | about 2 years ago | (#40417157)

I remember when Marvel did stuff like this in '90s. Does this company do it better? Maybe. But it's still not that novel an approach, and I doubt the reason these motion comics failed to take off before was because of a lack of good tools. There comes a time when you either want a comic, or a cartoon, but not something that's an awkward combination of the two. When you get right down to it, wants the difference here between the Flash cartoons that have been around for ages (Aside from starting with prettier cutouts drawn by professional illustrators)?

The main problem with comics on a screen (any screen) these days is that humans can focus in close on a printed page fairly easily, but readers suck at zooming and moving around a large image. So you can either see the page art then zoom in to actually read the text (repeated), or you can read panels at a time (zooming in to see, say, 1/6th of the page) and miss the full impact of the occasional full-page or two-page spread. There's still some room for technology to move in and help the issue -- maybe allow publishers to tag pages as "shock spread" so you see the full art first, no matter what, before returning the reader to a close-in panel view -- but screen resolution is a limit to the experience.

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#40417993)

Well now they have the technology they need to make it...badass! After all, everything is better on an iPad, right? /sarcasm

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#40418671)

You really don't think a 'Retina' display doesn't make a huge difference, here?

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (1)

dead_user (1989356) | about 2 years ago | (#40418773)

You really don't think a 'Retina' display doesn't make a huge difference, here?

What?

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (1)

ifwm (687373) | about 2 years ago | (#40420055)

"The main problem with comics on a screen (any screen) these days is that humans can focus in close on a printed page fairly easily, but readers suck at zooming and moving around a large image. So you can either see the page art then zoom in to actually read the text (repeated), or you can read panels at a time (zooming in to see, say, 1/6th of the page) and miss the full impact of the occasional full-page or two-page spread."

I really have no idea what you're talking about, I have a 22 inch monitor and I can do both of those quite nicely at the same time, no compromise required.

Whoever modded you up obviously doesn't actually read comics on a monitor, and I'm guessing neither do you.

Re:But... Didn't that already happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417049)

Sounds more like visual novels [wikipedia.org] , actually.

Left to right?!? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40416997)

I'm totally used to right to left from manga these days. You know - the comics with actually good stories :-p

Re:Left to right?!? (-1, Troll)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 years ago | (#40417207)

I'm totally used to right to left from manga these days. You know - the comics with actually good Pedo incest stories :-p

FTFY i don't buy manga, it's illegal in a lot of places and even if you win in court, you are famous as "the guy with the pervert comics"

Re:Left to right?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417457)

I don't know what I'm talking about

FTFY.

Re:Left to right?!? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 2 years ago | (#40418235)

I'm totally used to right to left from manga these days. You know - the comics with actually good Pedo incest stories :-p

FTFY i don't buy manga, it's illegal in a lot of places and even if you win in court, you are famous as "the guy with the pervert comics"

Now that is just silly. Clearly some people are so close minded, interpret over broadly stuff they dont undertand and throw them into the untouchable category without consideration. Believe me this is more about protecting their narrow view point than the kids.

Re:Left to right?!? (3, Funny)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#40418607)

Manga doesn't mean child rape porn.

Re:Left to right?!? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40420061)

No, it means child rape porn with tentacles.

Re:Left to right?!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40429463)

except for the 95% where it means child sex (not rape, because japanese girls in manga want it!) porn.

Did they seriously think this was original? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417003)

Japan's had this down for probably decades.

psoto!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417017)

We are the slashdot trolls, my (just made, surprise butt fuck) friend.
And we keep on trollin' till the end.

We post goatse [goatse.ru] links.
Natalie portman and hot grits.

No time for lusers (Linux users),
Because FreeGayOS (FreeBSD) rules!

Everybody does that. (4, Insightful)

eggstasy (458692) | about 2 years ago | (#40417041)

Computer games have done that since the dawn of time. *grabs cane*
Why, back in MY day, being able to watch VIDEO on your computer was HUGE!
We didn't have animations. Overlaying things and doing transitions was the norm.
So yes. A lot of what you youngsters call "cutscenes" was made with static images, not video or 3D data.

One of my favorite games still does that: http://defendersquest.com/ [defendersquest.com]

This is an old idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417155)

Madefire, a new startup in Emeryville, CA, is working to change that with the release today of its new iPad reader and comic-book authoring tool.

I could swear I heard of this before ... Oh wait, I have. [amazon.com]

Well, to be fair, this is for the iPad which makes it COMPLETELY different and a whole NEW paradigm as opposed the software that I linked to - that 's for the PC and therefore is completely different.

*Sorry, my tech hype is a bit dated from the 90's. I just haven't really felt the need to keep up with all the buzzwords and hoopla to sell old concepts again as being new.

Re:Everybody does that. (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#40417819)

Computer games have done that since the dawn of time. *grabs cane*

That makes sense. Most amateurs and internet-generated comics do it that way too. It's way cheaper to reuse the same drawing 50 times by sliding it than having to draw the same object 50 times.

Creating new characters is way cheaper too. Who has the budget to pay a franchise for the rights to an existing character anyhow? Very few publishers do. It's far better to create your own characters, and then pretend that your character will be good enough so that others will be willing to pay outrageous sums of money for it some day.

Sounds a lot like Scumm interludes. (1)

kanto (1851816) | about 2 years ago | (#40417053)

Haven't seen this thing, but to me it seems like they're basically adapting comics to computers and imo there's huge amount of prior art in games already.

Broken Saints was a great early example of this (1)

neurator (710170) | about 2 years ago | (#40417115)

After watching it I thought the novel format would be the future of graphic novels. Some 10 years later these guys are just starting to get somewhere with multimedia comics.

Anime and "Pseudo animation"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417117)

... Japan has had stuff like this since forever in a day. It's basically getting pretty close to full on animated series like you see in Japan where they take comics (manga) and adapt them for television and theaters.

This is a great paid advertisement (1, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 years ago | (#40417133)

I didn't know that slashdot was taking paid advertisements. Well this one is excellent a blend of interesting tech fact, geek interest, and in your face sales (our product is better than the competitors).
Well I have some bio-gas generating land in Florida for sale. I will write a scholarly article about how a grid of microbial fuel cells could power a server farm and the water abundant environment can be used for green cooling. Get in before Oracle buys it all up.

Images! + Sound Effects! + Music! (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about 2 years ago | (#40417311)

= Movies

Re:Images! + Sound Effects! + Music! (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | about 2 years ago | (#40417825)

= Movies

Now that there's a huge apps landgrab, it looks like they're cashing in on the fact that the "multimedia" story-telling was forgotten somewhere along the way. Without reading the article I'd say they're just re-implementing the nineties' land grab that low-res animations + voice tracks + music introduced... and they'll discover that without CD-size media to deliver all that, apps will need either multi-meg bundles or slow and pricey bandwidth requirements.

Only for IOS (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40417349)

No android

Re:Only for IOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40437701)

Android already has Flash.

...without pictures... (2)

RyanFenton (230700) | about 2 years ago | (#40417363)

Why have an article about how revolutionary the 'visual grammar' of the layout is, if you aren't going to show any examples of how it's different?

Ryan Fenton

In other words... (1)

Megane (129182) | about 2 years ago | (#40417507)

By concentrating on sound effects, music, and visual effects, they're doing exactly what Hollywood has been doing for years: flashy crap triumphing over the substance of good writing.

availability (4, Insightful)

iroll (717924) | about 2 years ago | (#40417517)

Yay! It's available for iPhone and iPad and... that's it. Congratulations, you've made something that I won't ever use.

I mean, I'm typing this on a MacBook and I can't even check out a preview of one of their fancy e-motion-2.0-books, so I bet you can imagine how excited I am to buy one. Really, you can't make a browser app so that I can at least try it out?

For all its warts, these guys should take a cue from Spotify: it's available on all platforms, and damned if I don't have it running on an android phone, a MacBook, an assortment of Windows (XP, Vista, 7) computers at work and home, and a Debian box.

And I couldn't be happier giving them my money.

Re:availability (0)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#40418277)

Ah it's not their fault that Apple is the only one right now supporting the advanced features. It's very expensive to redo them for multiple formats since there aren't tools out there to output to more generic formats like HTML 5. It sounds more like sour grapes because you don't own an iPad. They are targeting for one market, deal with it. I swear these days if they don't support every format they should be burned as witches. I'm developing similar projects and I'll tell you from first hand experience that it's not possible and at the very least cost effective to master for every device. I'm probably releasing to multiple formats but I'll be throwing out the motion and audio. And for those that hate motion comics, just don't buy them. Personally I'm not doing comics but the interactivity is similar and I do myself like the motion comic format so long as it's done well and they are doing it right. I'm more concerned with the lame stories in many of the motion comics. If it's used as a storytelling tool I don't see the problem. If it's done to cover up bad stories then it'll flop. By the way if you don't believe me do your own research. InDesign is the premiere tool and it doesn't support this type of interaction. I only know of one tool out there and it's iPad only. I guess you can write all the custom code but it'd be cost prohibitive for most. Interactive eBooks are in their infancy. You might as well complain about why they couldn't do Lord of the Rings the way it was in the 70s or 80s. In 10 or 15 years there will be a lot more support but for now being able to do it at all is impressive.

Re:availability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418311)

They're releasing these motion comics in HTML 5. You did catch that, didn't you?

Re:availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40419027)

Nah, he is too busy yelling *get off my lawn* whilst juggling red herrings with a straw man pyramid behind him - on fire.

Re:availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40420581)

HTML5 on android sucks. Create a simple HTML and compare simple transitions and transforms between an iOS device and an android device and see the difference. While the transitions look almost as fast as a native application on mobile safari, they look choppy and ugly on most android devices.

Re:availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40421515)

Which might be relevant, if the person at the top of the thread wasn't complaining about not being able to view them on his Apple laptop.

Re:availability (1)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | about 2 years ago | (#40421457)

I mean, I'm typing this on a MacBook and I can't even check out a preview of one of their fancy e-motion-2.0-books...

Ah it's not their fault that Apple is the only one right now supporting the advanced features.

Ummm... You know Apple makes the MacBook he was referring to, right? It even has several browsers that run on the same base rendering engine as the iPad app is using.

InDesign is the premiere tool and it doesn't support this type of interaction.

InDesign is from Adobe (read slow as shit to adopt any new tech they did not invent) and it is focused on the print magazine industry. You might want to look at their Flash replacement tools instead, whatever they're calling PhoneGap now that they bought it.

Re:availability (1)

Zaelath (2588189) | about 2 years ago | (#40433257)

I tried to give Spotify my money recently. They tried to get me to sign up with Facebook and rely on an external service to provide the authentication, a service that would have no financial motivation to solve my problems if there was an issue.

Needless to say, they didn't get my money. Perhaps you can find a better example.

Re:availability (1)

iroll (717924) | about 2 years ago | (#40433315)

I said it has warts, and I'll agree with you wholeheartedly that that's probably the biggest one of them. I would be less critical of them if it was just for people using the free version (maybe they get some revenue from FB), but for the paid version they should be able to handle their own business.

Re:availability (1)

Zaelath (2588189) | about 2 years ago | (#40433545)

Yup. I find the strangest part of that is they're still (as I understand it) supporting the existing authentication infrastructure they had before, so they still have all the cost of supporting that, but removed the choice for new customers to use it.

I think they swear up and down they get no FB kickbacks (doesn't make it true I realise), but they certainly don't seem to care that "improving the user experience" is losing them paying customers.

Maybe that's what G+ is doing wrong, they should insist you have a Facebook account and crosspost everything to that account :)

yeah right (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | about 2 years ago | (#40417521)

Too bad you need an iPad (or install iTunes??) to even see what the article is talking about. Nope.

Oh, hey look [vimeo.com] . It's crappy.

Re:yeah right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40420647)

Why people repeat this fallacy about iTunes?

You don't need iTunes if you want content on your iPad. You don't need iTunes or a mac to download and use this app.

Requires a front-facing camera? Wtf! (1)

Kergan (780543) | about 2 years ago | (#40417987)

Can anyone chime in on why a front facing camera is needed at all? Big #fail or too resource hungry and it was their way of stripping my ages old first gen iPad?

Cartoon or Comic? (1)

Mysteryprize (2466438) | about 2 years ago | (#40418101)

Pick one and do it well. Primitive animation can be funny or cute, but it needs to be designed with that in mind - as a low budget animation, something which will be shown on screen rather than in print. This can work on a small screen quite well. If you want to make a comic though, tacking on a few sound effects and screen wipes really adds very little, and is more likely to disrupt the experience.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418281)

Watchmen ARTIST Dave Gibbons, not creator.

Re:No. (1)

alices ice (699932) | about 2 years ago | (#40419925)

co-creator, tho moore rarely gives his artist his dues . gibbons created the whole look of the book including the 9 panel layout and several story aspects (the pirate comics instead of superhero comics in their world). in v for vendetta, the character's entire look including the mask was from artist david lloyd's ideas.

Let me tell you about Homestuck... (1)

structural_biologist (1122693) | about 2 years ago | (#40418531)

Seriously, flash/gif-based webcomics like Homestuck [mspaintadventures.com] have been doing this for a while.

Re:Let me tell you about Homestuck... (1)

Myself (57572) | about 2 years ago | (#40418797)

I remember discovering the animated treats within Dead Winter [deadwinter.cc] , on the 100's. Link goes to 199, so you can read a bit of the story before clicking Next to hit 200. (Story is violent and text in strip 200 is definitely NSFW.)

How did a product placement make it to /.'s front page? Le sigh.

my lawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418783)

get off it.

seriously.

In other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40418845)

So, in other words, they're visual novels.

Visual Novels (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40419309)

These are called visual novels, VN. There are enough of them to have their own database. I guess they are becoming the next Japanese thing to catch on. The majority are essentially choose your own adventure books with images depicting setting and characters with simple animations. Some have fancier animations, some have voice acting, some have actual gameplay attached to them like 'Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors' for DS. In my opinion the best games of the last 5 years have actually been VNs. Sengoku Rance is an amazing strategy game, Alchemy Master is a great RPG. The focus on story creates a huge amount of empathy for the characters which makes the gameplay enjoyable. Also because they don't originate in the west they aren't dumbed down to get the PG13 market.

There is a database of them here:
http://vndb.org/ [vndb.org]

Fuck off with all the monetization! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40419377)

And yet ANOTHER attempt (more then likely successful) to take an industry that is slowly being taken over by individual cartoonists/artists and lock them out by introducing restrictive technology. Sure, the technology might make for an incrementally better product, but at the cost of precluding many artists from participating simply because of the levels of complexity, ie sound management, file format issues, COST, etc. etc.

With the Internet as it is today, one can acquire perfectly professional comics directly from the artists. There is no need to further monetize.

Re:Fuck off with all the monetization! (1)

alices ice (699932) | about 2 years ago | (#40419939)

well you get paid upfront so you take the deal i guess. it's less random than getting lost in the kickstarter goldrush. besides i get the impression these stories are created for a market, rather than a creator's passion project.

Let me get this straight (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about 2 years ago | (#40419557)

This guy is comparing some random app for Apple with the masterpiece that is the first Star Wars trilogy?

Homestuck (1)

nikolardo (2266242) | about 2 years ago | (#40419979)

This sounds a lot like flash animations and gifs, especially as seen in Homestuck, but also occasionally seen elsewhere (Questionable Content, DrMcNinja, for example).
Basically, people who work in a medium on the internet understand that they have fewer limitations than print artists. Then when they end up getting their things printed, they have to somehow work around the animations and/or differently shaped panels.
This sounds like nothing new at all, just a restricted way to have people view comics that could happily be on the internet.

Translations (1)

AdamWill (604569) | about 2 years ago | (#40422069)

"Madefire, a new startup in Emeryville, CA, is working to change that with the release today of its new iPad reader and comic-book authoring tool"

Translation: this is a well-executed publicity piece masquerading as news.

"This century needs its new creations and its new myths and legacies,' says chief creative officer Liam Sharp"

Translation: we couldn't afford any licenses.

Whirlgirl? (1)

lcllam (714572) | about 2 years ago | (#40426199)

Didn't Showtime have something like this about a campy nerd girl jumping around being all super heroine like?
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...