SDCC '08 - Clickwheel Unveils Comics Reader

Clickwheel Unveils Comics Reader

Clickwheel claims to be the first and only site devoted to bringing comics to the iPod and portable media.

The company was acquired by Rebellion, a UK-based computer games super-developer who also owns 2000AD, including such characters as Judge Dredd, Roue Trooper, Strontium Dog and others, in 2007.

In December 2007, the company announced a new initiative where it offered digital copies of 2000AD, making it the first time ever that a sci-fi comic was made available weekly in both print and online versions.

A couple months later, it started adding archive material from 2007 in addition to the weekly comic downloads.

Last Thursday, at the Clickwheel: On-Demand Digital Comics for iPod and iPhone panel, Clickwheel unveiled the Clickwheel Comics Reader. We caught up with Clickwheel E-i-C Tim Demeter to chat about the company’s latest initiative.

Newsarama: Okay, Tim, just starting things off, digital comics as a medium has seen a lot of movement recently, with Warner Bros. annoucning their Motion what is Clickwheel/2000AD's latest digital initiative called?

Tim Demeter: It's called the Clickwheel Comics Reader and is available now from the Apple App Store for free installation on iPhone and iPod Touch. In short, it is an application that allows comic fans to view comics on-demand via their iPhone or iPod Touch.

Funny you should mention the Watchmen "Motion Comics," though. Clickwheel has been doing video comics like that and distributing them via iTunes for years. I recommend our Judge Dredd and Ten Seconders movies. If you'd like something really out there try the movies in the archives of Colin White's Comix.

NRAMA: How did this deal come about in the first place?

TD: We developed it independently using Apple's Software Development Kit for iPhone with Apple's support.

NRAMA: How does this digital presentation work?

TD: The reader works like a combination of a Comic Book Reader desktop application and the iPhone Photo viewer. Users can swipe through and pinch zoom a comic using that now infamous iPhone interface. Currently, our Reader allows users to access the Clickwheel library on-demand but soon users will able to upload comics they have downloaded as well.

NRAMA: Will it complement the earlier announced/launched online program? What stories or titles will be part of the first releases under this new distribution format?

TD: Yep. Much of the existing Clickwheel catalog, including 2000AD will be available via our Mobile Reader. Most of our comics are free but our premium material, such as 2000AD will link directly to the Reader so when you purchase a comic on the Clickwheel website it becomes available to you at no cost on the Mobile reader and vice versa. Basically we've added even more value to a Clickwheel purchase.

NRAMA: Were/are the original creators involved at all in the overall process?

TD: The application as it exists right now has been all about functionality and that is a job for we techies, but as we start adding features that will involve the creators more directly we will certainly be getting them involved. The creators that work with me, I hope, will attest that I'm always after their feedback and involvement.

NRAMA: Are there plans to introduce original characters and present new stories/series?

TD: Definitely! We're already creating original comics at Clickwheel via our iNKED imprint and I am currently commissioning some brand new stuff to add to the iNKED feature. I probably shouldn't use the pronoun "we" though. Clickwheel does host original content but it is all entirely creator-owned. We just host it and get it to the people.

NRAMA: What other initiatives should fans be on the look out for in the coming months? Any hints as to the direction that you guys are heading?

TD: We have a major launch coming on September 17th. Not just a new widget but a whole new thing that will be compatible with Clickwheel but will also be something completely new. We're in Beta now and we're a little more than confident that we'll turn some heads with this one.

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