Digital comics distributor Graphic.ly has revamped its platform which now caters for some 200 publishers and caters for "hundreds of thousands" of readers.
Announcing the revamp via the site's blog CEO and Chief Community Caretaker Micah Baldwin revealed the new version is completely HTML5 based and will soon be optimized to be viewed on any device. "We have worked closely with Google to extract all the benefits of HTML5 and the Chrome browser," he explained, "and as those features (offline browsing, in-app purchases and others) get rolled out, you will see them activated on the site."
The revamp also includes the inclusion of new social tools to help creators, publishers and fans promote favoured books, reflecting Baldwin's long-standing commitment to making Graphic.ly a comics community as much as a comic store.
"In early January, we began to discuss Graphicly and its future," he revealed. "We knew that we had to continue to champion the importance of community and cutting edge technology. We also knew that if all we did was grow into a gigantic online store or even the “Diamond of digital,” we were doing nothing more than putting a Walmart in the middle of a vibrant downtown.
"Being a store is easy. Get content. Sell lots of content. Repeat as necessary.
"But building a platform that allowed for the intersection of story-tellers and story-lovers— well, that's hard. Every day, wonderful creators are told that their work isn’t good enough simply because someone determined that their stories may not sell.
"Fans are disappointed as stories are discontinued and the creators they love find it difficult to work. Publishers are repackaging, renumbering and rebooting stories and character lines in an attempt to keep the interest of fans.
"It’s a vicious cycle, one that we have decided to opt out of. We will continue to sell books from the greatest publishers out there. But we will also help stories, regardless of medium — be they graphic novels, film, audio, games or some amazing aggregation — be accessible, immersive and engaging."
The new Graphicly.com "is a wonderful first step in that direction," feels Micah. "Beyond the refreshed look and feel, you will find that there is no Flash on the site anywhere. It is completely HTML5 and will soon be optimized to be viewed on any device.
"We even released a new version of our Android app, which closely resembles the functionality of the website."
The major development for the site, however, is that it now has a YouTube (and MyEBook) style 'embed' option, meaning any comic available on Graphicly.com can be taken and embedded, just like a video, anywhere, so fans (and publishers) can show it off on other websites or blog."
And the conversation that occurs around the story on your site?
"Well, that carries to every single place the comic book is installed," says Micah. "Imagine having a conversation about Top Cow’s Angelus across a thousand sites in real time?
"It's a pretty powerful concept," he enthuses. "Think about how you were introduced to great stories. Someone introduced you to Spider-Man or Wanted or any of the stories you love. Now, with a couple of clicks, you can do that for hundreds or thousands of people.
"For creators this is a compelling promotional tool, and one that many creators have already taken advantage of, and over the course of the next few months, many more creators and sites large and will will do the same.
"We are committed to continue to produce and develop creator tools to 1) be supportive and 2) make it easier for their fans to connect with them," he adds. "Initially, we have set it up where any creator can submit their work to email@example.com and within 24-48 hours, their book will appear within the network — and more importantly, the community will help curate the content.
"Over time, we will introduce more and more ways for the community to directly interact and collaborate with their favorite creators.
"It will be a fantastic connection of awesome."
In addition to publishing an independent creator or publisher's title, Graphicly will also work work with the creators to help them to submit approved work to places outside the Graphicly Network, be it the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble NOOK, or even other digital comic online stores.
"We are committed to helping creators get their work seen by the largest audience possible, and are working on ways to make that possible," says Micah.
"We are also starting to work with creators of all types of stories. Soon, you will see video and other story mediums within the Graphicly Network, and in many cases the stories will be presented with multiple mediums used. (As an example, imagine clicking on a tv screen in a graphic novel, and having a video play that extends the story.
"The stories that will be discovered and curated by the community will be, well, awesome.
"At the conclusion of our meeting in January we decided that our mantra was 'Connect Awesome'.
"We want to help define what online storytelling becomes," says Micah. "We want to reach inside the minds of the most creative people in the world, and provide technology that empowers them to tell their stories in the way they want, and watch those stories be shared and enjoyed by the most amazing community in the world."
• Check out Graphic.ly here