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Along with the growing movement of people who like to read comics on tablets is an equally enthusiastic group that actually wants to make their own digital comics.
Motion comic book startup Narr8 (pronounced narrate — get it??) tells VentureBeat it’s planning to release a Narr8 motion comic Editor tool that will enable those creators to bring their stories to life.
Narr8 isn’t what most U.S. comic book fans would think of when comic books come to mind. Essentially, you’re still downloading digital comics that can be read on a weekly or monthly basis, but Narr8’s approach is much different. The service is set up a lot like mobile gaming networks in the sense that it employs gamification techniques as a main part of its business strategy.
You earn currency within its platform, called Narrs, for doing things like logging in every day, reading comic books on a consistent basis, and following through on recommendations from Narr8. Right now, most motion comics on the platform are produced in-house by the startup’s 170-employee team (including 10 studios), and some of those comic books cost about 100 Narrs to read beyond the first couple of issues. You can also buy Narrs via an in-app purchase within Narr8’s mobile apps, with 100 Narrs costing 99 cents.
“The Narr8 Editor is the next big step in our business strategy, and it will greatly diversify the kinds of stories that are available (to readers),” Narr8’s Darya Trushkina said in an interview with VentureBeat.
The Narr8 Editor tool lets authors and artists arrange their stories within layers. There’s some stock artwork for people with primarily written talent and don’t know how to draw, but artists can upload their own original work into the layers to tell the story. There’s also a library of background music and sound effects that you can incorporate within your motion comic. There’s no limit on the number of pages (aka scenes or chapters), meaning creators are free to make a bible-sized graphic novel.
The tool is web-based HTML5 and will debut via Narr8’s website in mid-May, with a mobile version for iOS and Android to follow in the near future. There is an initial approval process for all comics submitted that should only take 24 hours, tentatively. Narr8 does outline things that could cause the company to deny submissions from appearing in the platform (excessive cursing, pornography, and other unsavory acts), and it doesn’t plan to offer creators detailed explanations for why something didn’t get approved.
Trushkina tells me initially Narr8’s Editor tool is intended for people who want to do things that don’t require a ton of animation — so more book than comic. Still, the tool does provide creators with a way to push their stories out to the masses and if popular enough, even make some money.
What kind of money? Well, Trushkina isn’t disclosing the share of revenue from each book, which should cost about 100 Narrs per comic episode (aka issue). But the first 1,000 downloads of each episode are free, so you’ll have to prove that your book is popular before any money actually starts accumulating.
The revenue split, Trushkina said, is still being determined. For now, she indicated that it’ll be somewhat equal to what other publisher are splitting with creators. And since Narr8 uses its own currency rather than real money, it doesn’t have to provide Apple or Google with the standard 30 percent cut for anything sold within those apps. That means potentially, there’s more room for creators to make money.
Creators also retain full rights to all stories available on Narr8 and can remove them from the platform. (Narr8’s Editor tool is made specifically for its own motion comics platform, so there’s not a ton options to host such content elsewhere without recreating it for another platform entirely.)
Founded in 2011, the Moscow, Russia-based startup has over 700,000 users and content that’s available in four different languages. Narr8 has $4 million in funding from IMI.VC Venture Company, and faces indirect competition from Madefire, ComiXology, and Emanata.
Images via Narr8