Friday, October 5, 2007

Talking Shop: Comic Book Creator 2.0

Remember Othello on the original Nintendo Entertainment System? It had a tag line, "A minute to learn, a lifetime to master." That's exactly what a good piece of software does.

A while back, I clued everyone into an interesting new piece of software coming down the pike called Comic Book Creator 2.0. It promised us the ability to make professional-looking comic books, and then some, utilizing sound and video multimedia tools to take things to the next level.

Check out the above comic book page. I made that. With my first attempt at using the software. Yup. First time I started it up, I was able to produce that.

When it comes to making comics, I have zero experience. I've never even used Photoshop. My skills are basically limited to scanning a comic and cropping out the panel I want to write about.

Comic Book Creator enables you to take almost any image you can save on your computer and turn it into a comic book panel. From text balloons to captions to those "action text" words like POW! and SOCKO!, this software gives you plenty of options to let your creativity run wild. Most things are drag-n-drop, with a fairly easy-to-use interface, especially if you take a few moments to go through the brief online tutorials.

The included audio and video editing programs don't have online tutorials through the software's publisher, Hypercomics. However, they are fairly popular programs in their own right and there are plenty of resources on the net if you just have to add that farting noise to your wedding picture or a minute-long video you captured from Duke Nukem: Planet of the Babes to liven up your vacation adventure. These are programs packaged with the software as kind of built-in add-ons. You can Comic Book Creator fine without them and make a classic-looking comic book, but it can be fun to multimedia the experience at times.

Speaking of add-ons, I was surprised that Comic Book Creator includes editing software for sounds and video, but no editing software for pictures! If you want to crop your ex-girlfriend out of that panel, you had better do it before you add it to your page, because Comic Book Creator handles layouts only. As with video and audio, the editing has to be done before you use the software as a final means of assembling your work. If you haven't taken the time to edit what goes in, it will affect how happy you are with what comes out. It just strikes me as odd that the package gives you the software to edit the more demanding things like audio and full-motion video, but nothing for your photos.

But that's a minor quibble. Use the digital editing software that came with your digital camera like the rest of us. Comic Book Creator takes all the agony out of the most tedious, potentially problematic, least enjoyable part of making a comic. Aspiring comic book makers and Photoshop junkies will find this to be an amazing, fun way to produce very satisfying results.

You can check out what others have done and get a trial download at Hypercomics. Don't be intimidated by the polished works you'll find there. Watch a few of the tutorials, and you'll be amazed at what you are capable of. And that's the sign of a top-notch software utility.

Highly recommended.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recommendation.

Looks like my Licking Windows comic strip has some new options for the artwork. Can't wait to unleash my oddball brain on this one hehe.

FoldedSoup said...

Damn! I wondered why you asked about photoshop.. and this actually may be a heck of a lot better for some of the stuff I do!

Thanks for the write-up!

Oh, and if this is one of a series (please) and you want something similar that just throws text bubbles on something pre-established? Check out plasq's Comic Life. Good stuff. And now for Windows!

Adam Barnett said...

soup, as always, you rock the house.

gotta say, if you've ever thought of making your own comic pages as opposed to panels, comic book creator is the way to go. thanks a bunch for the comic life link.... there are many times where all I want to do is fiddle with a panel!

last, but not least.... this is one of an indefinite series.... my "Procrastinator" column is being overhauled, and it's going to be in comics page form from now on - this is a sneak peak of the new format... you all are seeing what everyone else will see next Friday, so start tuning in, okay?

Nate said...

Never fear fellow Mac users, Comic Life will work for us to also produce great content like this without having to use Windows *shudder*

googum said...

Ah, I had been thinking about this. If it looks as good as your page, sounds like it's worth it!

Adam Barnett said...

googum, it actually looks better.... that page doesn't showcase what you can do with word balloons, action text, backgrounds, etc. That's just clip art with captions. I think I've just skimmed the surface of what can be done with it, and I'm looking forward to finding out!

tike mik said...

I will suggest grab a pencil and a piece of paper and get started to demand your share.