What a whirlwind! At the start of the week, Geek Native had news of Graphic.ly’s $1m funding and supersizing waiting list of comic fans.
Just yesterday Mashable then had news that Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, yes – that Steve Ballmer, had raved about how awesome Graphic.ly was on stage at CES 2010. Yes – that CES 2010!
Graphic.ly’s unbelievably busy CEO Micah Baldwin has been kind enough to answer some of Geek Native’s questions about the forthcoming app. Thanks very much Micah!
Graphic.ly is yet to open to the public. People are queuing for precious beta invites. The site describes Graphic.ly as a place for people who love art, story telling and graphic novels. Can you tell Geek Native any more? Just what is Graphic.ly.
Graphic.ly is just that, a place. Kevin and I speak about this a lot. There are two sides to the comic world, the visual storytelling provides by the art and the word, and the enjoyment of sharing that story with your friends. The application provides both a great location to buy and read comics (and all the news from the comic press), but a comfortable place to hang out and engage with your friends and the community.
So if it has to do with comics, it will exist in Graphic.ly. Starz Media, one of our investors, is launching Spartacus, a show at the end of January. We are working with them to provide Graphic.ly users interesting ways to interact with content from the show. We will be doing more and more of these in the coming months.
Will Graphic.ly cost? What’s the payment model like?
The application itself will be free. The comic books themselves will carry a cost, with the majority being around $1.99, but many much less, and a few a bit more. Our intent, where we can, is to allow publishers to provide more than just the comic book. I spend a lot of time watching DVD extras, and we want as many comics as possible to have deep and rich extra materials formatted specifically for digital.
Can you give us a rundown of how Graphic.ly might work? Content displayed via an Adobe Air app in a similar way to tweets are displayed in TweetDeck or Seesmic?
AIR, Windows 7 and the iPhone are the first three platforms that we are releasing on. With this suite any one with PC, Mac or iPhone will have an amazingly similar experience. All, of course, will have a fantastic reader, but with all, readers, publishers and creators will be able to engage with one another.
Will Graphic.ly offer the same experience to users from the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and all around the world or will there be geographic licenses or restrictions?
The restrictions wont be from the app. Some publishers have very specific requirements on where their content can be viewed, and we will of course respect that. At the same time, we want to work with our publisher partners to create awareness around the power of the digital platform. With music, digital revolutionized music listening, distribution, marketing, and frankly, even the music itself. We hope to be that catalyst for the comic industry.
Who does Graphic.ly have content deals with? Any big names? Can small publishers also work with Graphic.ly?
We currently have a deal with Marvel to deliver their content on the iPhone. Devil’s Due and Top Cow are also launch partners. In the next few weeks, we will have more publishers come on board, big and small. Our belief is that all publishers (big and small / mainstream and independent) can benefit from the Graphic.ly platform by connecting directly with their fans. We also have a few independent publishers and creators that we will be working with.
I hope that publishers understand that Graphic.ly can be an amazing launch platform for titles. How awesome is it to bring a new title to a community that will not only provide you real feedback but that you are directly connected to?
Who will Graphic.ly appeal to the most? What sort of fan base are you targeting?
We look at the comic world in three segments: collectors, enthusiasts and casual/lapsed.
For all, Graphicly is a place where readers can engage directly with their favorite creators and publishers.
For the collector, Graphicly is a place to discuss the books themselves from within the books themselves. Also, collectors can get a digital copy of a print book, and help retain the value of the print.
For the enthusiast, who’s focus is less on collecting, Graphic.ly will provide a rich discovery environment and a place to explore comics comfortably.
For the casual/lapsed reader, they can learn (or re-learn) an enjoyment of comics.
I was a lapsed reader and quickly have become quite the enthusiast. I feel like there is so much I need to catch up on!
What challenges are there in bringing graphic novel content to mobile devices like the iPhone or Android phones like Google’s Nexus One?
There really aren’t any. The biggest challenge is do we 1) recreate the desktop experience on the phone, or 2) create a new experience? We feel that the device shouldn’t matter. View and engage with comics wherever and whenever you want. We created Graphic.ly to be extended onto any screen, whether its in your pocket, on your desk or in your living room.
How hands on are your backers? Do you get much guidance from Graphic.ly’s big name investors?
We work very collaboratively. I was very selecting in whom we approached, and I couldn’t ask for a better investor group. Every day, I get a call or email from one of them either with a piece of advice, or a connection to be made, or just some words of encouragement. Which, given the ups and downs of a startup is often the most important thing!
How complex is Graphic.ly? Is it a relatively simple idea, thought up by a wise man and which will now fill a niche or did you have to overcome some significant programming challenges?
Reading comics and talking about them with your friends is the most simple concept ever. Making that happen digitally, is pretty hard. Its one of the reasons we have given the company to the community, and are going to truly ask the community to help us in the endeavor to make the best application possible.
Which blogs would you recommend to Graphic.ly fans and users?
Beyond this one? Well, there is our blog: http://blog.graphic.ly. There is my blog: http://learntoduck.com. But, I enjoy iFanBoy.com, Comic Book Resources and Newsarama. Those three really help me understand whats going on in the comic community and industry.
Geek Native's policy is not to copy and paste entire press releases, though we do use quotes and comments from them. As often as possible, articles here contain analysis, observation and denote speculation. You can read the site's commitment to accuracy and disclosure here.