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kirby comics and myspace

August 28, 2008 3 comments

So, I got some good news today:

MySpace’s June redesign is proving to be a turning point in the social network’s effort to monetize its 118 million eyeballs. National brands are flocking to new advertising opportunities on the home page, making MySpace the top site in online ad views last month, according to Comscore.

The June redesign streamlined the home page and placed a large ad space at the top of the page. It offers splashier video ad placements with interactive elements that can move throughout the site.

As I announced two months back, I’m no longer doing client design work, focusing instead on my role as Director of Product design at Plinky. But the Myspace redesign (which includes work that hasn’t launched yet) was my last major engagement as an experience designer at Adaptive Path, and I’m very happy to see the success its had with users and now advertisers.

So that wide ad unit at the top, that spans all the way to the gutters? The one that affords a whole bunch of different ways to present ads (for tasty, tasty bacon) and marketing messages?

My rationale for the design decisions on the home page included making efficient use of screen geography, reducing the amount/increasing the impact of advertising, and providing opportunities for feature marketing and discovery… but really, the whole time I was thinking about this:

Jack Kirby’s use of double page spreads in his comics blew me away as a kid. Huge panoramics of New Genesis, amazing action shots of Capt. America taking out what appeared to be hundreds of Nazis singlehandedly, or the above assault on Camelot from the Demon origin [image borrowed from the Kirby Comics blog] – the sheer impact of those scenes have stayed with me as an adult.

Effective design work is full of unexpected influences. When I proposed what I termed the “widescreen” element at the top of the MySpace home page, I was thinking of double page spreads, and how effectively they’ve been used by artists like Jack Kirby (and more recently Mark Millar in Marvel Comics’ Ultimates) – they capture the attention, communicate volumes, and ultimately (heh) stand out far more than your average 9 panel page.

I need to thank the MySpace team for taking a chance, and my friends at AP and Sequence for turning my simple descriptions of how it worked into something awesome.

I’m just chuffed that it actually worked.

a (very long) conversation with dopplr’s matt jones

March 27, 2008 10 comments

Over at the AP blog, I put some excerpts from my interview with Adaptive Path’s good friend Matt Jones of Dopplr. Peter suggested that I use my personal blog for the “DVD extras” (as he put it), so I’m posting the entire 2 hour IM interview here. It’s long, it’s weird, and it was seriously a lot of fun. I hope you dig it.

And oh, hey, if you decide to register for MX, be sure to use FORF as your registration code (as in “Friend of Ryan Freitas”) for an additional 10% off!

Interview with Matt Jones

Ryan Freitas: Thank you for agreeing to chat prior to your appearance at MX next month.

Matt Jones: No problem! Or ‘np’ as they say on the internet.

RF: Will the talk you’re doing be similar to your IXDA presentation?

MJ: My IxDA presentation was about process and form in a way – how my way of working has been changed by new tools and new ways of developing. It was also about the nature of designing services that have a geospatial and time-based component. Hence it’s title “Designing for Spacetime.”

RF: I enjoyed the hell out of that talk.

MJ: Thanks! My MX talk will be more generally about the social component.

RF: Oh good. That’s actually part of your talk that I wanted to discuss.

MJ: But! It’s hard to get me off the spacetime subject… It’s a continuum…

RF: Of course. And we’ll get to THAT too. But I wanted to get deeper into something you mentioned in your “Spacetime” talk… because you actually did me a huge favor by mentioning Jyri Engestrom and “social objects.” Discussion of social objects actually gets us to Grant Morrison in two moves. [smile]

MJ: Yahtzee!

Read more…

wednesday comics [2/06/08]

February 6, 2008 Leave a comment

wednesday comics, 2/06/08

Categories: comics

pax romana

December 28, 2007 Leave a comment

I didn’t catch Jonathan Hickman’s first series “The Nightly News,” but after reading the first issue of “Pax Romana,” I might have to pick it up. The format is text-intensive, with Hickman’s illustrations serving more as static representations of the action his captions are describing – each scene in this setup issue is effectively trapped in amber, but no less engaging. You can get a pretty good impression of the structure from this preview over at CBR.

paxromana01_cover.jpg

The core conceits of “Pax Romana” are highly reminiscent of Maria Doria Russel’s novel “The Sparrow,” which Dan (I think) recommended to me earlier this year. I’ve described Russel’s story as “Jesuits in Space,” the story of a secret mission to an alien world by a Vatican-organized team of explorers, linguists and theologians – it was a great idea to explore, unfortunately the story fell apart once the actual mission began. “Pax Romana” hinges on an even more compelling concept, namely, what would happen if a the Roman Catholic Church (in its last, desperate throes in Europe) discovered the means to go back in time? What lengths would the Holy See authorize to ensure the supremacy of the Church’s ideals?

It’s a wild, theologically geeked-out set up for a science fiction story – which means it’s absolutely perfect for my tastes. The first issue is all about world-building, revealing the secret (and now re-written) histories of this incarnation of the Church, as well as introducing those responsible. It’s a hell of a read, and an absolute firecracker of an opening. Your mileage may vary, and those who might be offended by negative depictions of the Church and its attitudes towards other faiths might be out of luck – but since it’s only a four issue limited series, you can take your chances on a single issue or wait around for the trade.

Categories: comics

bendis can still write, apparently

November 12, 2007 Leave a comment

Brendan Wright’s got a great review of the most recent Powers collection, Powers vol. 10 “Cosmic”. Powers comes out so infrequently that I’d forgotten how much I used to enjoy reading it. I have a feeling that if I’m going to get over my recent antipathy for Bendis, the only antidote will be in re-reading some of the old trades. [via Journalista]

Categories: comics

new comic day

October 10, 2007 2 comments

new comic book day

Today’s purchases at Isotope:

Appleseed Hypernotes (finally, in English)
Runaways #28 (trying this out on Dan Brown‘s recommendation)
X-Factor #24
B.P.R.D. “Killing Ground” #3 of 4
Batman #669
New Avengers #36
Black Summer #3
Buffy Season 8 #7

That’s more than I usually buy, and I was hoping not to be too disappointed. Unfortunately, it looks like the only thing Bendis learned from DC’s Identity Crisis is that you can totally boost sales by doing something horribly violent to a second-tier female character. Just ugly. Valerie will have something smart to say about it, I’ve no doubt.

X-Factor ends a completely unnecessary story with a baffling non-ending. Black Summer continues to be superb. Looking forward to sitting down with the rest, but I’ve got a backlog of sketches to turn into something meaningful.

What are you picking up this week?

Categories: comics

great expectations

August 1, 2007 Leave a comment

200708011230

Pardon the vulgarity, but this is possibly the funniest/crudest discussion of commissioned comic book art ever. To whit:

What do you expect for five hundred bucks, some vast ****ing two-page spread illo of Doctor Strange fighting Dormammu on the Astral Plane, while on a nearby planetoid, The Thing is *******ing Annihilus, and a little to the left on the Rainbow Bridge, Thor, Nick Fury and The Submariner are doing the Electric Slide with their underpants on their heads, all while Eternity stands in the background giving Galactus a ******* massage?

[found via Journalista]

Categories: comics

Jamie Hewlett + Jimmyjane = teh h0tt

May 31, 2007 Comments off

Who says you can’t learn nothin’ from reading comic books?

Anyone who might have been curious about who Jimmyjane [kinda-sorta NSFW] will be announcing as the “internationally acclaimed artist” they’ve been collaborating with for their new line of… uh… marital aides should point their browser over to the Isotope Comics’ blog. The cat, and the vibrators, are most certainly out of the bag, well ahead of their June 5th reveal on the Jimmyjane site.

Tank Girl would be hella proud.

Categories: comics, links

prison shiv collection

May 14, 2007 Leave a comment


Prison Shiv #1
Originally uploaded by James Sime.

James Sime is the proprietor of The Isotope, my local comic book shop. He just posted photos of his most recent acquisition: a collection of handmade shivs made by prisoners of the Norther California Prison System.

This is some decidedly brutal ingenuity.

Categories: comics

the comic book reading experience

May 2, 2007 Leave a comment

I’m in Las Vegas at Microsoft’s MIX ’07 at the moment.

Nathan Dunlap and Robby Ingebretsen gave one of the better presentations at MIX this year, on a comic book reader they built in Microsoft’s WPF. They talk about their collaboration with comic creators to solve issues around the reading experience, and show off some pretty impressive results (the controllable panning effect is a really beautiful contribution to the narrative).

Visually, the presentation is a knock-out, with heavy debt to Scott McCloud’s influence. To watch “ZAP! WHAM! KAPOW!: Windows Presentation Foundation and the Next Generation of Online Comic Book Reading” you’ll need to install the Silverlight plugin.

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