A Bit More on Comics and the iPhone

August 9th, 2008

I happened across this blog today - the first post is an attempt to use the built-in facilities of the iPhone to read comics, which unsurprisingly doesn’t go that well. The second post is interesting, though - it links to an app called the iPhone Manga Converter, which will take comic book images, optimize ‘em for the iPhone, and wrap them in HTML for you to upload to some web storage. The resulting pages seem to be fairly decent, but the lack of offline capability is still a dealbreaker for me. Nonetheless, a blog focused on the iPhone as comic reader and an app designed to enable that are both worthwhile things to mention.

Reading Comics on the iPhone: an Initial Survey

August 8th, 2008

So, I have an iPhone. And I want to read digital comics on it. Back with my iPod Touch, I tried unzipping a .cbz file, importing the images into iPhoto, and then syncing them to the Touch. The result was intriguing - scrolling, zooming, switching between pages, etc were fairly decent, but iTunes decided to “optimize” the jpegs before kicking them to the iPhone. This results in more-or-less unreadable lettering. There’ve been a couple jailbreak digital comic reader apps, but since I don’t want to jailbreak, they’re not really an option for me.

Converting to PDF seems like a potential solution. With a vanilla iPhone or Touch, you can’t just put files onto it as if it were an external drive - so while there’s a PDF viewer hidden away in the internals (used by Mail and Safari), there’s no way to get PDFs onto the iPhone. But with the advent of the App Store, there are a number of third party apps which well kinda-sorta turn your iPhone/Touch into a drive. Sorta. They also have “viewers” built-in for images, PDFs, text files, HTML, and (generally) Office docs. All the ones I’ve found so far are using the built-in PDF viewer, for example. From some poking around on the webpages of the various apps, I get the impression that some of them may use their own image viewer code, but I’m getting the impression that most of them again just use the built-in image viewer. Weirdly, they do tend to use their own HTML viewers, though. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling Safari isn’t accessible for third-party apps for some reason.

Take a look below the fold for my quick-and-dirty reviews of three of these apps, both for digital comic reading specifically and in general usage, as well as my thoughts on two more expensive apps of this type.

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Coming Soon…

August 4th, 2008

I am currently working on a big freakin’ post on the evolution of Geoff Johns as a writer over the last 8-9 years. My thesis is that there was a major change in his use of continuity in 2004/2005, starting with Green Lantern: Rebirth, picking up steam in Infinite Crisis, and really blowing down the doors in his post-IC work - 52, Green Lantern (especially Sinestro Corps War), Action Comics, Booster Gold, Justice Society, etc…I’m reading through the major works of his career - JSA, Flash, and Teen Titans representing the “before” - I know, Teen Titans overlaps, but the tone was set for his run on the book before the changes really started showing up - and Green Lantern: Rebirth (and the ongoing), Infinite Crisis, Action Comics, and Booster Gold representing the “after”. I’m trying to figure out how exactly he went from being, as david puts it, a junior Roy Thomas (i.e., obsessively continuity-driven, loyal to the original works he’s referencing, not particularly innovative) to the guy who undid “Man of Steel”’s elimination of Clark Kent’s teenage costume and contact with the Legion. I’ve been working on it for the last week, and it’ll probably be a couple more weeks ’til it’s ready, but I just wanted to mention it to see if anyone can think of any books I should be reading for this and haven’t mentioned already. If so, lemme know in the comments.

What’s That Header Image?

July 30th, 2008

In case you were wondering, the header image is a tweaked version of the first comic book panel I read and still remember to this day. It’s from Legion of Super-Heroes v3, #2, the second comic I ever read (I believe - it’s not impossible that I’m getting the order of the first two comics I read mixed up). That’s Keith Giffen’s art, a depiction of the Legion of Super-Villains using Last Supper-style imagery. The whole issue is burned into my brain, but the LSV section was particularly memorable for me, especially the next page, with Sun Emperor killing a servant girl by kissing her and burning her to death.

I’ve now got this issue in digital form, trade paperback, and single issue. I decided to use this image for the header because I wanted *something* wide and Legion-y, and this did the trick. I cropped it down, badly wiped Lightning Lord’s dialogue bubble, and substituted in my own text, using GIMP. I may try to clean it up further at some point in the future - we’ll see.

Random Notes 7/30

July 30th, 2008

Things I discovered in my domain’s access logs:

  • In the last month, I’ve gotten over 3000 hits via Myspace. No, not for my blog: for a picture of a baby panda in a plastic container. It’s adorable, I’ll give you that, but apparently a bunch of people on Myspace have put it on their…Myspaces? Whatever the hell you call that crap. I’m debating whether to screw with them by changing the image to something utterly random instead.
  • In the last 14 hours and 22 minutes, there’ve been 1,124 attempts to post comments to my old blog, and 635 attempts to post trackbacks. These all get 404s in response, since I shuffled the old blog well out of the way. I’m wondering when, if ever, the comment spammers will realize that the old blog doesn’t exist any more.
  • There were still people subscribed to my RSS feed! Well, that won’t really come as a surprise to most of you: I’m betting the odds are pretty good that most of the people who’ll actually see this post are legacy subscribers from back in the day. I redirected the old MovableType feeds to the new WordPress feeds this morning, so you’re getting the new stuff now. Enjoy.

I Really Like Peter Snejbjerg

July 30th, 2008

Continuing with something I mentioned yesterday, I really like Peter Snejbjerg’s cartooning. This particular panel, from JSA #32, really jumps out at me:

Most emphatically cartoony work these days is heavily manga influenced - but I don’t really see that in Snejbjerg. Unsurprisingly, given where he’s from, his work feels European to me - maybe a bit of Asterix or Tintin. I’m a big fan of the obvious sense of fun inherent in Star-Spangled Kid’s appearance here - she actually looks like a teenage girl. Jakeem’s dreads don’t quite work, though. Oh well. No one’s perfect.

Random Notes 7/29

July 29th, 2008

This’ll probably end up being a semiregular thing - bits that don’t merit a full post by a long shot, but aren’t really Twitter material either.

  • My Windows/email work account has been locked or something along those lines - I think this is related to my password expiring on Sunday, but while I changed my password late Sunday night/early Monday morning, I still can’t login, and while my support case on this has been assigned to someone, they haven’t done bugger all in the 4 hours since they picked it up. Sigh.
  • There were good things to the con besides just seeing friends and the zoo - such as the Giffen panel, the Legion of Three Worlds tidbits Johns leaked, Douglas Wolk’s “Against a Canon of Comics” (congratulations on that well-deserved Eisner, Douglas!), and, of course, the Legion issues I snagged. Got copies of LSH v4 #3 (I love the Roxxas cover), LSH v3 #2 (second comic I ever read!), and LSH v2 #294, the finale to the Great Darkness Saga - and I got it signed by both Levitz and Giffen. Nifty!
  • Oh, and I saw a preview screening of Tropic Thunder, thanks to david, and it was fantastic. One of the most consistently funny movies I’ve seen in ages.
  • Doing research for a post on Geoff Johns now - I’m reading pretty much all of his work that I can find, trying to figure out exactly where he made the leap from “pretty good rehasher of retro characters/concepts/conceits” to “freakin’ brilliant reshaper of comics history into new forms”. I’m about midway through his JSA and Teen Titans now - it’s surprisingly hard to find his Flash run online, which is a pain. I’ll be ordering all the trades eventually anyway, but my desire for instant gratification has been thwarted.
  • On the plus side, though, I’m discovering the awesomeness of Peter Snejbjerg. I’ve seen his work before, but I hadn’t actually looked at his figure work quite so carefully before. I’m not a huge fan of his layouts (at least not as of like JSA #32 - he may well have improved since then), but damn, I love his faces and use of shading, especially his eyes.

Worst Thing About Blogging Again?

July 26th, 2008

I *know* I’ll be spending an obscene amount of time fiddling with the look of the pages, and it’ll never come out right. My kingdom for a nice minimal theme… Seriously, design is hard. My old blog had a layout I lifted from a friend with my old classic Viking lander image in the background - but I’m not in the mood for that again. I want to get some header image up there, ‘cos the current wanktastic gradient is, well, wanktastic, but I don’t have any images I like that would fit there. Meh. Maybe I’ll just go ultraminimalist and optimize for Lynx.

I do like this tagging thing quite a bit, though. Categories are a bit too regimental for what I want to do - I’m far more interested in stream of consciousness bullshit than filing things properly, and tags fit that mentality nicely.

This ain’t no party

July 25th, 2008

…this ain’t no foolin’ around…yeah, so, for whatever reason, I’ve decided to start blogging again, and I’ve decided to go with a new name. I may well change it, but for now, I’m going with This Ain’t No Disco, a line from Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” that I’ve always loved for some reason. At the moment, it’s hitting me because I’m in a kind of rejectionist mood - I’m at San Diego Comic Con, and there’s no there there.

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