Full Circle – deviantART and Madefire team up to bring Motion Books to the web!
When digital comics were first imagined we just had the web. It was a blank canvas, of course, and it was crying out to be scribbled all over, desperate to burst open the long-slumbering narrative modes we had all taken for granted and formed habits around.
The questions were multiple:
- How long will it take to kick old habits? (To paraphrase Douglas Adams, when will people really stop mistaking the food for the plate?)
- What will these new mediums look like? What will the grammar be? Will we be participants, or passive watchers?
- How will we build them? Flash? After-effects? What?
- How do we stop the pirates if it’s a basic PDF reader?
- How will we reach people, and how will it make any money?
- Can we do it like Spotify or Pandora, and have it supported by advertising, giving everybody the content for free?
These were things Ben Wolstenholme and I were wrestling with when we first started talking about Madefire several years ago. Other pioneers had faced boldly into these issues as much as a decade earlier, producing visionary, but clunky work. The answers were not as clear or simple as they seemed. It was a quandary, but it was so enticing we just persisted – indomitable will and dogged determination was required. We kept chewing on the bone.
And then – iPad!
Here was a device that was smarter than paper. It was near enough comic-sized. It glowed. It knew where it was, which way was up. It had a powerful memory. It was instantly covetable. The kids loved it. Nobody knew for sure if it would catch on – it was a giant iPhone! – but we all thought it was pretty cool. This would be where we set-up base camp.
And so – Madefire!
It was perfect, and it worked. The audience began to trust digital, we found the grammar, we made a tool that built the new medium, and we created something far more sophisticated than a PDF reader. We reached people.
And yet… The web.
We owed the web something. It had changed everything after all. It changed all aspects of life, from how we communicated, to how we shopped, to how we learned, and sought out entertainment. But computer screens were sadly lacking the kinetic beauty of a Kinman Chan Treatment episode, the majestic sweep of a MONO panorama, the slow-burn saga of Captain Stone is Missing… all of which could be read and experienced (for free!) on Madefire—but only via the iOS app.
Madefire has come full-circle, right back to the place that we started, and the virtual environment that spawned the original concept. We have managed to replicate the Madefire experience for the web, making it available to everybody with a home PC for the very first time within the world’s biggest creative environment – deviantART. We haven’t sacrificed any of the interactivity. It’s still reading, not watching. You control the stories on the web just as you did on the app.
Soon you’ll be able to build and read your own Madefire books all on one platform. Fan/ artist/ publisher – the same. And also within one domain. We don’t know where this next stage will take us – we’re pioneers! Nobody has seen these mountains before, let alone what’s on the other side of them! – But we DO know it’s one hell of an exciting endeavor to be undertaking.
And also – It’s great to be home!