Animated comic reader coming to iPhone

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Aquafadas, the French developer behind PulpMotion and BannerZest, is planning to release a new software application early next year that will enable users to download comics and manga to their iPhones and to animate them. The as-yet unnamed software will be released early in 2009.

Aquafadas’ products help users build slideshows and presentations using their own pictures, video and music — the software is designed to be complementary to iLife applications that Apple includes on the Mac.

With the company’s recent release of PulpMotion Advanced, a more professionally-oriented version of PulpMotion complete with the ability to draw users’ attention to “regions of interest” and access photo libraries created in Apple’s Aperture software, Aquafadas is turning its attention to leveraging that technology for users who want to use iPhones and other devices to read comics and manga.

Comics and manga particularly appeal to European and Asian consumers, although Aqufadas CEO Claudia Zimmer is learning that there’s a burgeoning market for the media in North America, as well. In Europe, in particular, many comic and manga readers are in college and may not have access to a Macintosh, so Aquafadas is leveraging Adobe Interactive Runtime, or AIR, to provide the core application that will manage their new comic reader.

“You can download a PDF or JPEG of a page from a comic book or a manga from the Internet, but you don’t always know how to read it or where to direct your eye,” Zimmer explained.

Aquafadas’ forthcoming software adds metadata to that image information to help users follow the panels. You can also add sound effects, animations for dialogue bubbles and more to help draw the reader’s attention along. What’s more, because the content is stored as metadata alongside the actual image content, users can create their own files, if they find a better way to read their comics.

The file itself can be saved to the iPhone and played as a movie, at least in its current implementation. Aquafadas is considering further development as time goes on, and given their current schedule — releasing early in 2009 — they could add many features and capabilities.

For now, however, the company is taking it a step at a time, and it’s still very early in the development phase of the product. So early, in fact, that you won’t find any information about the software on their Web site — at least not yet. Aquafadas is hoping to gain the attention of major comic and manga publishers, and to win some converts to this new media delivery system before it launches.

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