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Parents: Get your Kid-Friendly Comics on iPhone and iPad

So maybe you get it by now. Librarians, teachers, and other smart people that you trust tell you that comics are a great way to develop and strengthen your child’s reading skills. They also capture their imagination and work visual recognition skills and they do tons of other good things for the brain, in addition to being fun and entertaining. But maybe you’ve also heard that there are some comics that aren’t really appropriate for everyone. So what’s safe? If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, now there’s a simple way to get great comics for your kids and teens.

Digital comics provider comiXology officially launched their newest app, Comics4Kids, yesterday. And it’s exactly what it sounds like. Almost 175 comic books from 15 comic book publishers like Archie Comics, Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Red 5 Comics, NBM Publishing, and more. I’m sure more will be added every week just like comiXology’s other apps. And hopefully Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom! Studios, along with other publishers, will join in since they all have comic books that would fit right in.

One of my initial thoughts was similar to JK Parkin: will kids want to read something that’s so blatantly targeted to them? Most kids want to get the real thing, not the kiddie version, and one red flag is something with “kids” in the title. But seeing this targeted to parents as something they can feel comfortable handing to their children, the branding makes more sense. Time will tell, I guess. I certainly appreciate the effort, and I’m sure parents will too.

For more information, read click through for their press release: (more…)

Creativity with digital comics

Smart comics publishers and creators are (finally!) aggressively pursuing digital platforms for their comics. Right now it’s mostly as another form of distribution – you can get your comic books and graphic novels at specialty comic shops, book stores, libraries, oh yeah and also on your iPhone or iPad and online. There’s still quite a lot of toe-dipping but that will change the more it’s acknowledged digital comics are the only growing sector of comic sales right now. *

It’s great to have a digital replica of print, but there’s also a lot of room for experimentation to create a new experience. Some are already starting to surface.

Graphic.ly started with a focus on recreating the comic shop community atmosphere by allowing users to comment on specific comic pages and panels within their digital comics reader. That’s an interesting start, but what has me excited is seeing a couple of new apps launch with very creative uses for integrating digital aspects into a story without losing the sequential art part of comics (the reason I think motion comics aren’t working).

Ave! Comics has released a digital version of the biography graphic novel Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist, originally published to decent acclaim last year by Abrams ComicArts. It does what has become the standard panel-to-panel “guided reading” animation thing on your iPad or iPhone, but it adds a soundtrack to the reading experience. Tracks from Johnny Cash’s stellar catalog, including the legendary At Folsom Prison, come in and out of the story as you arrive on certain pages. The trick is that the app searches for specified songs in your iTunes library. If you don’t have them, you can buy them for 99 cents through iTunes or just read without them. So there’s the potential for hidden costs (unless you happen to have a very extensive collection of Cash songs on your iPad or iPhone, which I suppose isn’t entirely out of the question if you’re buying a biography of Johnny Cash). Despite that, it’s still a very cool idea. On the iPhone, it’s broken up to 3 separate apps for $1.99 each but the iPad’s HD version is one $4.99 app for the entire story. The soundtrack-less print edition is $17.95. Here’s Ave! Comics’ demo video (don’t be scared by the French iPhone used in the video):

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The Importance of Plumbing

Not five minutes after Aaron Lyons and his lovely lady (and fantastic singer) Kelly Fletcher left our apartment following a scrumptious brunch, we were told there was an incident with the plumbing downstairs and we couldn’t use any water for a couple of hours. Naturally, I suspected Aaron and Kelly probably busted a pipe on their way out. That would be just like them.

So, while we’re waiting for two hours to pass, I’m reminded how good we have it. It quickly became clear just how reliant we are on plumbing because I now can think of nothing to do that doesn’t involve a sink, shower or toilet.

Before we were demoted to 2008 B.C., I played the nearly-final mix of the song “Ballad of the Waitress”, which Aaron co-wrote, that I recorded last weekend. He and Kelly both saw me perform this song in the last Foe Pa show and really seemed to get a kick out of hearing this version. Edie Murphy continues working on mixing it, and we’re going to see if we can add some fiddle to the song since she’s such a great fiddle player.

Edie has been wonderful to work with. Her country band Dime Box recently released their first album, Five & Dime Waltz. Check it out! It’s available on iTunes. They’ve got come samples on the band’s MySpace page. What’s weird is that we discovered that Aaron somehow knows another member of Dime Box, lead singer and banjo player Kristi Callan.

Small world, huh? So small, we still can’t get this plumbing thing right.