Madefire Takes Digital Comics To The Next Level With VR Reading App


Madefire, a company that specializes in turning stories into interactive experiences on mobile devices, has now crossed its storytelling efforts over to virtual reality.

Through its Madefire Comics app powered by Oculus Gear VR, you can now gawk at your favorite comics and graphic novels in a new and immersive way. The app is the first comics platform that integrates with VR, allowing users to be a part of a rich and dynamic storytelling experience, very much aligned with the company's footprint.

While the comics aren't 3D per se, the reading experience is greatly magnified. There's a bevy of sound effects and animations, but it's still up to the user to read what's on the page. It basically puts the user in front of a comics panel, akin to viewing a series of tableau vivants in an immersive 3D space.

Ben Wolstenholme, Madefire's chief executive told TechCrunch that his goal is to create a "native digital experience" that doesn't veer too far from the traditional way we all read comic books.

Folks at New York Comic Con were able to try the experience for themselves. TechCrunch's Anthony Ha said that it felt as if he was "occupying the same space as the art, which felt so much bigger and more overwhelming than when I'm reading it on my tablet or smartphone screen."

There's a Madefire authoring tool for creators to manipulate the way their comic books will behave inside the virtual 3D space, but Wolstenholme intends to upgrade its full library of comic books and have them all available to view by Christmas.

The free demo app, in the meantime, includes sample comics by DC and Madefire's own original creation optimized for a virtual reality-reading experience.

The launch video provides a snippet of the reading experience inside the app, demonstrating quite a few creative storytelling techniques and animation that dynamically improves the level of engagement of the reader. There's plenty of fluid animations, movements and effects but nothing too crazy and incredibly complex, since the app is still grounded on the notion of a traditional comic book-reading experience. These are still comic books, and not movies or animated films. It's not meant to replace those two mediums, but amplify its own.

Mobile VR is arguably arriving in droves of late, at a pace where it's slowly gaining traction from adopters to onlookers alike. With apps that let you view a plethora of real world 3D spaces, to a revolutionary painting tool and a host of other immersive experiences, VR is shaping up to be the mobile industry's next direction.

The Madefire Comics preview app is available now.

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