“Digital lends itself to short form, episodic, tactile, visual reading – in short comics!” Part 2 of our exclusive interview with Madefire’s Ben Wolstenholme
How did the transition from Moving Brands to Madefire come about?
BW: When I moved to the US to start Moving Brands San Francisco in late 2009 the world seemed ready to move to digital reading – connectivity was in place – the iPhone was revolutionizing the interface with the screen – iPad was soon to come. At MB I was working on Flipboard and HP and building out a great team and in the wings Liam and I started developing Madefire. We prototyped digital-first reading experiences with the help of my brother Guy Wolstenholme (co-founder in Moving Brands). Liam and I keep pushing the idea forward through 2010 – developing a first wave of content and in 2011 I met Eugene Walden. Eugene is an incredible engineer and has a passion for storytelling – he agreed to come onboard as a co-founder with Liam and I and we really started to get moving from there. Soon we were funded to develop Madefire and Motion Books and it’s a blur since then…!
So that brings us to the present day. Madefire have developed a strong relationship with Apple and you were at the launch of the iPad mini, what were your thoughts on it as a comics reading platform?
BW: Generally I think comics have found a home on the iPad and in turn iPad Mini. The most striking thing is the likeness in size and aspect ratio to a comic – they were made for each other. Add to that colour hi-resolution screens for image and text – they’re perfect. We spent a lot of time making sure that Motion Books work on small device screen like an iPhone 4 – so when the iPad Mini came along we knew we had plenty of screen space for a great reading experience. Personally the iPad is long forgotten – I much prefer the size of the Mini – it’s a lot lighter – and I don’t notice the smaller screen size – I’m a big fan of the Mini size and aspect ratio I think that form factor will just continue to gather momentum.
As people increasingly move to reading on screen it’s really important that we optimize the reading experience for mobile devices – we want to be able to put stories into people pockets – so that there’s a ten minute episode there waiting for you at any juncture of your day. Digital lends itself to short form, episodic, tactile, visual reading – in short comics ! The aspect of time and touch is such a huge opportunity. I think digital and print will run alongside each other very successfully whereby print become more of a beautiful object – a collectible item – and the digital becomes more of an episodic feed that leads to the print object as a collection. Motion Books episodes are built as 10-15 minute reads at an affordable price point…
I have always believed that comics and graphic novel material is under-met – and undervalued – I think there a great chunk of the world that needs to experience this medium – and digital gives it a new lease of life -and audience.