Hi, I'm Kim, and I'm just getting started

Hi everyone,

I’m Kim Desorcie. I don’t have a product yet; my short-term goal is to validate something and get a good start on building it during the summer break before my last semester of university. After that, my current plan is to keep building products on the side while finishing my degree and working as a web developer. I’m studying abroad in Sydney, Australia right now, but usually I bounce around between various cities in the northeastern United States for uni, internships, and spending time with family in-between. Outside of software and business, my interests include art, history, the fantasy genre, and animals.

My current top idea is a mobile webcomic reader app, tentatively named ComicWyrm. I’m not completely sure it’s the one I’ll build, but so far it’s the most promising of those I’ve considered. (I’m aware this sounds like a terrible business idea on the surface, but after digging a little I found it was actually an under-served market where at least some of the users would be willing to pay a subscription.)

I’m unsure how I can contribute to this community, since I don’t have any experience and most of my knowledge comes from podcasts. What can newbies like me do to be helpful? Is it accepted here to occasionally make threads asking for help, if one isn’t able to help much with answering others’ questions?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to discussing startups together. Nice to meet all of you.

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Hey! Welcome!

The comics that are converted into an electronic format are TERRIBLE! They are not split frame-by-frame, but the whole comic page is placed into one electronic page, making it impossible to enjoy the reading – everything is too small, and one constantly have to scroll the image left and right. I tried a couple of Firefly comics from Amazon, and a book of Dilbert… all look terrible on my Note 2, and scrolling just kills the experience. (And oh, screen rotating doesn’t work for some reason, so Dilbert strips are always left-to-right).

I certainly believe a dedicated comics reader would find its users.

I though believe that the reader is not enough. In fact, the reader may be not the best application to attack the market.

I would think that a service where a comic owner uploads the images of the comic, and the service detects the borders between frames, splits them into the electronic pages and allows to download an e-book in any of the Amazon-ready e-formats – that may have better revenues.

After all, if the images are split into frames, any e-reader can read them OK.

Yes ask questions! We need good conversation starters!

It’s really reassuring to hear you frame it that way. I’ll post some soon :slight_smile:

If you have any Mac mobile devices, look into Comic Chameleon - it’s a free app that claims to have good panel navigation. (I haven’t tried it myself, but from their marketing materials it looks fairly well-done.) It’s a good idea, but unless it’s a common feature request as I talk to more people (so far, you’re the first to mention it, but it’s possible that the others are just assuming it’s included), it’ll probably be something I have on the back burner for a later version.

Thanks for your thoughts on this. I think what you’re suggesting is actually a different project than what I’m trying to do. Now that you point it out, I could see there being a market for automatically formatting comic pages (especially for webcomics reformatted to paper books, actually - I haven’t heard of many webcomic artists doing ebooks, but I’ll ask around), so I’ll keep that in mind as another product I could do. What I have in mind is mainly focused on making a daily routine of reading the newest strip for many different comics easier.

Here’s more detail on what I was planning to do:

With webcomics - which are usually distributed for free on the creator’s website, which updates daily or weekly - a lot of the annoyance in reading comes from the websites just not being mobile-optimized, and from having to go into your bookmarks and click to go to all the different websites. The app would download the image files for comics on your favorites list as soon as they update (or the first time you get wifi after they update), so that there’s no loading time when you go to read them, and let you page through the new comic strips one after another without having to go back to your favorites list. It’ll also have a nice interface for reading back-issues, including loading the next few pages in advance and saving your place when you stop reading.

I’m going to pay a royalty to the artists for letting me use their content. (I’m not sure of the exact amount, but I’m currently leaning toward taking around 20% of the subscription fee as revenue and splitting the rest evenly among the comics the person reads. There might be multiple pricing tiers, for people who want to donate larger amounts to the comics they read.) This is partly about getting the goodwill of customers, since they feel a lot better about paying monthly to support artists than paying monthly for “just an app”; one reader I talked to said he considered it a tipping service bundled with an app. It’s also about compensating the artists for displaying the comic apart from their website (lost ad revenue, reader engagement opportunities, etc), and giving them a reason to want to opt in. The readers just want a better format for the content they already like, so providing a big variety of comics for them to choose from would be a big win. (And it does have to be opt-in rather than opt-out - I don’t want to get burned at the stake. I assume there’s also legal issues.)

I’ll also have some other costs/limitations related to making this appealing to comic creators. I’ve already had a request for hosting the images on my own server rather than having the app download directly from the comic’s own server, and I won’t be surprised if that turns out to be a common preference. In general I have to be careful about not doing anything that will read as “art theft” or unfairly profiting to others’ work. I haven’t talked to enough artists in enough depth yet to know what all the requirements are, but I’m expecting to discover other idiosyncrasies, especially in relation to crediting artists.