With the large amount of time people spend of Facebook every month, it’s no wonder that publishers are gravitating towards the giant social network with Facebook apps featuring their content.
The app makes it much easier to expose new and casual fans to a wide selection of comic books, according to Graphicly founder and CEO Micah Baldwin.
“Most of our users are actually new comic book readers who have never been exposed to comics before,” said Baldwin in an interview with VentureBeat. He added that because of this, the new Facebook app is the perfect place to grow interest in digital comics and add value to the Graphicly platform.
As for reading comic books on the app itself, the experience is pretty enjoyable. Facebook users first choose a particular comic they’d like to read and select it, which is then displayed in the app window within the publisher’s Facebook page. The size of the comic is smaller, but users can choose to view it in full screen mode without degrading the quality of the images. Two pages appear on the screen at a time — just like you’d see when opening a physical, paper version of the comic — and you can navigate back and forth using arrow buttons in the menu bar (see screenshot). The Facebook app also features Graphicly’s panel-by-panel view setting that’s available on other Graphicly platforms (web, desktop, iPhone, iPad, etc.).
The one thing you won’t find on Graphicly’s Facebook app for publishers is its own branding. The only reference that’s made to the service is within a word-less icon that pops up when users mouse over a comic that’s being read through the app. When clicked, the icon sends the user to Graphicly’s website to view that particular comic, which they can then purchase, rate, or discuss. The company has lots of integration with Facebook for its commenting and sharing. Eventually, users will also be able to purchase comics using Facebook Credits, according to Baldwin.
The process for comic book publishers is also very easy, as it requires minimal technical skill. Publishers, such as Top Cow which is featured in the screenshot, need only add a few lines of code to their Facebook page to include a sample of their products via Graphicly’s app.
Right now, Graphicly boasts a large number of major comic book publishers, including Marvel, Archie Comics, IDW, Boom Studios and more. However, both smaller publishers and creator-owned works are getting added to the service each week and will also have the ability to feature their comic books through the Graphicly Facebook App.
“I think we’re gravitating to a model that lets anyone use the Facebook app to showcase their work, but for now its only available for publishers (featured on the Graphicly platform),” Baldwin said.
Currently, Graphicly is the only digital comic book platform that offers publishers a way to put their content on Facebook. It’s one of several features that sets the company apart from competitors in the same market, such as industry leader comiXology, which is more focused on providing an inventory of content available to users via cloud storage.
The Boulder, Colorado-based startup closed a $3 million funding round in January 2011 led by DFJ Mercury, with participation from 500 Startups (the “super angel” fund from well-known investor Dave McClure), Dundee VC, Ludlow Ventures, and individual angel investors. The company was incubated by TechStars and previously raised $1.2 million from DFJ Mercury and others. It has 20 employees and has raised a total $4.2 million to date.