Media

Graphic.ly aims its digital comics reader beyond the iPad

The last few months have been full of news for digital comics, with ComiXology getting most of the attention for the iPad applications it created for Marvel and DC Comics. Now another startup, Graphic.ly, is launching its own reader for Windows 7.

Graphic.ly already offered apps on Windows and also using Adobe’s Air technology (so it could run on non-Windows computers). But chief executive Micah Baldwin said the previous Windows versions were early tests, and that today is the official launch of the polished product.

Baldwin also emphasized that Graphic.ly wants to reach a broad audience beyond Apple fans, rather than saying, “Unless you’re cool enough to buy an Apple product, you’re not cool enough to buy a comic book.” Not that the Boulder, Colo. startup is betting on Apple’s failure — it has an iPhone app, and plans to release an iPad app as well. However, Baldwin said that the company is focusing its energy on other platforms, because “comics should be read by anyone, anywhere.”

Hence the Windows 7 app, which should also work on forthcoming Windows tablet computers. (In fact, Microsoft chief executive demonstrated Graphic.ly on a tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.) Graphic.ly also has plans for Android and Windows Phone 7 apps.

Asked if he’s at a disadvantage, since ComiXology has already signed up the industry’s two biggest publishers in the US, Baldwin said he’s glad another startup has brought so much attention to digital comics’ potential.

“It would be unfortunate if DC decided to work with only one digital distributor,” he said, adding that he’s hoping publishers and tech companies can create “an MP3 of comics,” in other words a standard format that works across devices and applications.

In addition to buying and reading comics, Graphic.ly allows users to interact socially, with features like the ability to follow other readers, and to comment on pages and panels. It currently has more than 10,000 users, Baldwin said.

Graphic.ly has raised $1.2 million in funding from DFJ Mercury, Starz Media, and individual angel investors.


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