Indie Authors: Digital Comics

Novels, children picture books, and even cookbooks are often discussed in the digital publishing realm, but another type of book is gaining more prominence: comic books.

Comics are generally fixed format, because they are so image heavy and where the text is place matters (or else it doesn’t make sense).

So, to make an EPUB comic book, you will have to manually code and place the text and images to fit the page just so. Sidenote: I’m working on a new ebook on how to create fixed format ebooks. If you’d like to be a beta reader, let me know!

Making a fixed format ebook is not difficult, but parts of it can be time-consuming. Fixed format ebooks also used to be incredibly different to convert for Amazon’s Kindle, because the file basically had to be completely re-coded to fit KF8’s standards. I think for this reason, there hasn’t been too much talk about indie authors publishing their comics.

Fortunately, in 2013, Amazon released a new free tool, called Kindle Comic Creator. They even released a handy guide on how to use it.

Bruce Jones discusses step by step how to use Kindle Comic Creator, and even shares a video showing him making a coloring book. Basically, you can upload a PDF and shuffle around pages.

However, according to Scot’s Blog, Kindle Comic Creator has some disadvantages. For example, it can only create comic books (i.e. you cannot change the book’s metadata). He said it’s also only good for very simple formatting, and you can only have page spreads when you turn off the Region Magnification feature.

For people who might only want to digitize comics for their personal use, Amazon has a new, $19, tool called Kindle Convert for PC. It can convert scans into Kindle books.

Keep in mind though, that Kindle is not the only place to find digital comics.

PanelSyndicate is an interesting site where readers can access DRM-free comics. The twist is that readers can choose to pay however much they want (like HumbleBundle and StoryBundle). DRM-free is a big deal because, according to arstechnica, “DRM tends to simply punish the people who pay for things.”

Another thing to keep in mind is that comics don’t need to have minimal functionality. According to Inks, Bits, & Pixels, Marvel started adding soundtracks to its comics, with adaptive audio that adds “an ‘adaptive, non-repetitive score’ to digital comics.”

Some comics are even interactive, such as SXPD. The Verge reported that the comic shifts from “something you read to something you play.” And Madefire even got $5.2 million in funding to make “partially animated multimedia comics.”

Also, the publisher Udon is giving comics a twist by turning classics, such as Les Miserables and Pride and Prejudice, into manga.

What do you think about digital comics? Have you read any that stood out? Are you an artist or comic book writer? Please share in the comments!


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