At the 2018 Silicon Valley Comic Con, comic book vendors and artists and creators owned a lion’s share of the expo space and the talks and panels too. Among those rows of sealed-and-taped volumes of ink and paper was at least one company showing off a new and more interactive kind of comic book on tablet.
Nanits Universe is a former Kickstarter project turned San Francisco-based start-up working on creating a more interactive comic book experience for mobile, via the Nanits Reader 2.0, using their proprietary comic book rendering system, the NANITS ENGINE (capitalization theirs). The iOS version is ready, with the Android version nearing development finalization. The platform allows a comic book to be page-free with smooth scrolling between panels and text balloons, and parallax scrolling between layers to add visual depth.
Of course, in keeping with a mobile form factor, Ambient audio, in the form of sound effects and music, match the background visuals. Three comic series, Nanits Chronicles – Underground; Sherlock Holmes by Petr Kopl; and the Worm World Saga by Daniel Lieske, are in the content store for sale to demo what the platform offers.
The pre-loaded comic I tried, Nanits Underground Prolog, kept me engaged, as much for the novelty of the experience and story. The ambient sound added nicely to the experience, as well as the layers of scrolling between layers of the visuals. I admit I stayed to read more of it than I initially planned to, seeing how transitions were handled as the story arc played itself out. The audio cues seemed to serves as kinds of page-like demarcations, since the free-scrolling experience rolled fluidly from one panel to the next.
Nanits Universe is also encouraging independent comic content creators to whip up their own content and publish in store with a revenue sharing model that allows the creators to retain 70 percent of their profits.
Nanits Universe comic offerings should not be confused with a fully interactive gaming and comic book-style experience, like Sega’s classic game Comix Zone. But the comics do provide a layer of immersion that can pull a reader in — provided the storyline is strong enough to keep the reader engrossed. As more content comes out on the platform, it will be interesting to see if gamers are drawn to this kind of immersive storytelling compared to traditional comic books or games..
To read Nanit Universe’s press release in conjunction with their launch at 2018 Silicon Valley Comic Con, all the information can be found here on the company’s blog post.
– Paul Philleo, Editor-at-Large