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Digital Comics Update: Dark Horse launches Digital, NBM goes interactive, Nook gets Graphicly app, Archie translates digital to Spanish

Comic books continue their evolution into digital comics, where the sequential art form is available on mobile devices like the iPad and Android, game systems like the PSP, and web browsers. Expanding in distribution, getting more competitive with prices, and experimenting with interactivity – these are all good signs that digital comics might be growing from infant to toddler.

After some delays, Dark Horse Comics will launch their anticipated Dark Horse Digital program later today. The system was built in-house and uses a web-based system supplemented by apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The comics will be priced starting at $1.49 $0.99 (versus competing apps that have comics starting at $1.99), and will be available in bundles as though you’re buying a full graphic novel collection. The app will be free and come loaded with the first issue of Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction by Mike Mignola and John Byrne. There will also be five free comics available: the first issues of Criminal Macabre by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, Joss Whedon‘s Fray, Mike Mignola’s Abe Sapien: The Drowning, Gerard Way‘s Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, and Mass Effect: Redemption. The app will have hundreds of other comics for download, including issues of Conan, Joss Whedon’s Serenity, Eric Powell‘s The Goon and more. An Android app will follow.

Meanwhile on the Nook Color, Barnes & Noble has launched a new app store which includes three graphic novel apps from Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen, Mark Millar and JG JonesWanted, and Mark Waid‘s Irredeemable. All of the apps have been specially optimized for the Nook Color e-reader, which uses Google’s Android platform. Graphicly also has digital comics from major comics publishers available on the iPad, iPhone/iPad Touch and Android, on the web, Adobe Air, and Google’s Chrome browser app.

Dinosaurs Across America (iPad screenshot)

NBM Publishing and their all-ages Papercutz imprint has teamed up with TWP Interactive to produce what they are billing as the first interactive graphic novel, Dinosaurs Across America by Phil Yeh. (It’s not the first, but it’s still cool.) Dinosaurs Across America was first published as a traditional graphic novel in print in 2007. It was named one of the best 25 graphic novels of the year by School Library Journal and has won acclaim for its ability to teach geography to children. The new interactive edition allows the reader to zoom in on individual states, learn fun facts and play with puzzles. The interactive version is now available for $9.99 as an app for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), and for $4.99 as an e-book on Koobits.

And finally, Archie Comics continues its aggressive pursuit of digital, launching Spanish language versions of some of their digital comics Monday. The comics are available on Archie Digital, as well as their iOS app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch provided by iVerse, and the Sony PSP. An Android app is coming soon. Further translations into French and Hindi are planned as well.

Comics Events in LA: Week of 2/20/11

If you’re interested in finding out more about comic books and graphic novels, a great way to discover new stories is to check out a local comics event. There’s a vibrant comics community here in Los Angeles, where you can meet artists, writers, publishers, and other readers who are ready and willing to turn you on to some amazing material.

Here are some local Los Angeles events coming up that celebrate the sequential art form.

This week:

Monday, February 21 – Sunday, February 27: Henry & Glenn Gang Bang art show featuring Henry & Glenn Forever by The Igloo Tornado (Tom Neely, Gin Stevens, Scot Nobles and Levon Jihanian) and artwork by Eric Yahnker, Coop, The Clayton Brothers, Ed Luce, Johnny Ryan, Kaz and more, at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90027. Tickets: $0.

Tuesday, February 22, 7 PM – 9 PM: Writer/actor Felicia Day will be joined by some of her cast mates of The Guild, actors Vincent Caso (Bladezz), Amy Okuda (Tinkerballa), and Robin Thorsen (Clara), to sign copies of their graphic novel and season four DVD at Barnes & Noble: The Grove at Farmer’s Market, 189 The Grove Drive, Suite K 30, Los Angeles 90036. Tickets: Wristband with purchase of graphic novel or DVD starting at 9 AM that morning.

Wednesday, February 23: NEW COMICS DAY! Find your local comics specialty shop.

Wednesday, February 23, 6 PM – 9 PM: launch party and signing with writer/director Reginald Hudlin (Black Panther) and special guests writer Dwayne McDuffie (JLA, Static), artist Denys Cowan (Black Panther, The Question), writers Mike Benson and Adam Glass (Luke Cage Noir), musician/comics creator Ziggy Marley (Marijuana Man), actors/comics creators Eriq La Salle (25 to Life) and Rashida Jones (Frenemy of the State), and sci-fi authors Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep) and Steven Barnes (Lion’s Blood) at Golden Apple, 7018 Melrose Avel, Los Angeles 90038. Tickets: $0.


LA Comics News Roundup: publishers kickstart 2011

All the news that’s fit to shove through internet tubes. Here’s the world of comic books and graphic novels in LA and beyond over the last week or so, with some commentary:

= Boom! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon gets the prestigious Comics Reporter Holiday Interview treatment, talking about the culture and climate of the LA-based publisher and his journey to his current position. Read it

= Silver Lake store Secret Headquarters was named Bookstore of the Week by the LA Times book blog Jacket Copy. More acclaim for a shop that in 2008 was named one of the World’s 10 Best Bookstores by The Guardian. The LA Times article also gives mention to local LA artists Martin Cendreda (Catch Me If You Can) and Sammy Harkham (Crickets). Meanwhile, I have somehow still not checked out this store. Read it

= The ever-expanding Comic International: San Diego could add a balloon parade through downtown San Diego to kick off the festivities. City Council District 4 President Tony Young, a self-proclaimed comic book collector and fan, floated the idea in his New Years address and expanded on the idea in an interview. Read it

= Comics industry numbers from Diamond Comic Distributors, the primary method comics publishers get their comics and graphic novels to comic book stores and other outlets, has released their reports on 2010 and as expected print comics took a hit. “Annual sales of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines to the comic book specialty market declined slightly in 2010, down 3.5% from 2009.” Comics industry number-cruncher John Jackson Miller estimates that the industry generated $415 million last year. The comic shop market hit a peak of $437 million in 2008. However, he counters this gloom with data showing the fourth quarter of 2010 ending 2% up from fourth quarter 2009 due to graphic novel sales. This supports some cautious optimism from some as early signs of a turnaround. Read it: part 1, part 2, part 3 (more…)