Comic books entering the digital world is an exciting venture for all the wrong reasons for some die-hard comic book nerds. Like bibliophiles, some fans love the feel of comics in their hands, but with the advance of technology, comics are being read in new ways.
There are bite-sized comics all over the internet, but there's a new interest in interactive comics that is making them feel less static and more immersive. Madefire is a comic book app that adds animation and sound effects to create a unique storytelling experience.
Available for iPhones and iPads, users download the free app and choose from a small library of these "motion books". The app is fairly easy to navigate: separate panels pop up on screen and users tap the right or left arrow to continue reading or go back to the previous panel. Users tap and hold the center to flip through several pages. It will also adjust to how users are holding the device, whether it's vertically or horizontally.
The animation is subtle and mimics more to the action of how a reader's eyes would move around a traditional comic and less like a mini movie in your hands. Keep in mind, I tested the app on an iPhone, so the experience may be different on an iPad. Sound effects are a nice effect and doesn't distract the reader, though the speech bubbles are few and far between.
Madefire is certainly the first step towards mobile animated comics and it's very exciting. The app is led by comic book bigwigs like Dave Gibbons and Bill Sienkiewicz, which may attract new writers and illustrators to feature their comics on the app.
With the kind of fantastical and science-fiction stories typically written in comics, there's more room for creative storytelling. Comics are where movies and books meet -- expanding on the narrative and accompanying it with visuals -- and leaves more room to interpret. It's such a thrilling medium that I would love to see what technology can do with it and see what they might take away or add to the experience. I'm always looking for how storytelling is evolving, and comics books is one of those endeavors that is picking up fast.