DRAWN & QUARTERED
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"Mobile comics" will hit the United States soon.
Cell phones are next breeding ground for comics
Bound to happen. Plain as the nose on your face. If it were any more obvious, you'd have tripped over it.
Clearly, we're talking about cartoons on cell phones.
You saw that coming from a long way off, didn't you? Here's the deal: Cell phones aren't just cell phones anymore, they're "mobile entertainment devices." Your first taste of that was when you discovered you could play "Prince of Persia" on your phone while waiting in line somewhere. Then there was e-mail texting and news updates and being able to play MP3s on your phone ... anything that can be digitized and squirted electronically through the airwaves is fair game.
And so, comics on your cell phone.
Right now, only if you have a Nokia S60 phone, only if you're in Asia, only if you have a PC. But it's coming. (If you want to know what will be available on American cell phones next year, check out what kids from Japan or Korea already have available on theirs.)
The field is called "mobile comics," or mcomics. Barefoot Software of Hong Kong (www.s60comics.com) is already scouring the earth for cartoonists to provide content for cell phones. The software Barefoot provides takes scanned comic art and adds digital functionality, allowing the cell phone screen to be used like a peephole onto the comics page. One of the criteria was that users could navigate with one hand, and the mcomic program can be downloaded free.
Something like 50 million Nokia S60s are already in use, so the market potential is good. Of course, content counts. One of the sample submissions from Barefoot is the "original" Spider-Man 10-pager in "Amazing Stories." If Marvel is eyeing this market, it's being taken seriously.
Viewers download the comic books for approximately the cost of a real comic book. The software allows viewing of traditional strip comics and manga (of course), the ability to zoom in and out, a way of watching pages turn without using your hands, and support for various languages.
This is just the beginning. Artists will begin tailoring their products to their best advantage for the new medium. The financial model now has artists entering into a kind of partnership with the mcomics distribution system, with a small upfront payment and profit-sharing thereafter. A press release from Barefoot notes that "systems are in place for artists who want to go it alone."
Interested artists should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
And someday, you'll awaken when your cell phone beeps. You'll flip it open to discover today's new "Garfield" cartoon. Chances are, Garfield has eaten lasagna!