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Soundtracks for digital books.

This is potentially cool: Marvel is experimenting with sound in its comics. Just so long as you can turn it off (not everyone reads comics in an environment where blaring music is a-okay).

Related: what is it about digital comics that makes the format so much better than digital ebooks? Like, I still struggle with single-spaced justified text in Kindle (DO. NOT. WANT.), and yet I remember the first time I opened ComiXology and encountered the “guided reading” mode, sliding beautifully from panel to panel with animated transitions and perfect focus, even on multi-page spreads (for those who don’t read digital comics: usually the reader will focus through relevant text, then shift out to a “fullview” of the entire scene).

I mean, Jesus. EPUB is basically just HTML, and the AO3 exports better-formatted files than most commercially produced ebooks. Is it because too many publishers have spent too long relying on print typesetters to format digitally? Because, surprise! They aren’t the same skill.

Anyway. Imagine an implementation of audio in ebooks that, for example, was based on location. So, when a reader got to Loc. 294 in the text, wherein Jane Protagonist is exploring the creepy abandoned school, the gentle sound of wind and creaking boards beings to loop. Then, bam! At Loc. 300, when the killer leaps from out of a creaking locker, the music suddenly shifts to the sort of jarring instrumentals that would make Two Steps From Hell shed a single tear.

The sound would have to be layered, I think. Looped ambient tracks (wind, crowded street noises, the creak of a tall ship) under unobtrusive looped background music, fading in and out as appropriate by location. Then punctuated at appropriate intervals by “theme” tracks, like the swell of a love song or the rallying roar of a battle. Theme tracks would only play once (maybe with an optional UI element to repeat them), so if people are slow readers they’re slow readers. All elements (ambience, sound effects, music) should be easy for readers to turn on/off via the UI, without leaving the “page”.

… Actually, that idea sounds pretty cool. I would be so all over that technology if it existed, both as a reader and an author.

So, hey. If you need a startup idea, give me a call.

2016-11-17T20:15:53+11:0026th May, 2014|Tags: books, comics, ebooks, marvel, publishing, tech, xp|

Comics versus women.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Marvel is doing some really, really good things right now on the diversity front; we’re seeing a lot more female characters, and characters of colour, and queer characters taking more prominent roles in titles. Titles that don’t revolve solely around their gender/ethnicity/sexuality/whatever, even. So good work Marvel A++ keep it up.

The problem–with a few exceptions, e.g. DeConnick’s Captain Marvel–is that, the industry being what it is, these titles are still mostly getting written by straight white cis men. And, yanno. Some of my favourite comics are written by straight white cis men, but…


Writing diverse stories to shift copy is one thing. Actually doing the gruntwork of hiring diverse writers and artists and editors to tell those stories is something else entirely. And, in this game, walking the walk matters just as much as–if not more than–talking the talk.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with your hiring practices, is what I’m saying.

2018-11-26T08:07:15+11:0029th December, 2013|Tags: comics, marvel, pop culture|
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