A lot of the new technologies we see now are ones that reduce the amount of reading one has to do for a story, like Circa, which can lose context for the story as a whole. But what about comic journalism?
Symbolia is a new bimonthly comic journalism magazine that is only on the iPad (and hopefully future tablets as well). It will never be in print. Why? well, according to Erin Polgreen, the founding editor and publisher of Symbolia, “comics look great on an iPad” and “the pieces are often accompanied by ambient sounds, spot animations, and other interactive elements.” So, for her vision to be properly fulfilled, the print media is useless, which can sound scary to those print lovers out there.
Polgreen also working on a business model, which, uh, is crucial for a publication like this. For starters, as mentioned before, this is a bimonthly magazine, which is $2.99 an issue and $11.99 for a yearly subscription. Starting out as a bimonthly, Polgreen says, “will give [them] time to respond to feedback.” They hope to be a monthly magazine in the future. Polgreen, in the meantime, is looking to appeal to advertisers and has started a campaign on Kickstarter. So, she has the roots to what can be a start to a trend. Not only the trend of starting publications on digital technology, but also the emergence of comic journalism.
“We’re trying to reach a younger demographic who might be intimidated by 5,000 words of text,” says Polgreen, “if you think about our ideal audience like a Venn diagram, I envision it as a mix of obsessive readers of comic books, technophiles, and journalists.” She says a lot of things in this short quote that point to the future. Capturing the younger readers is key in establishing and maintaining a magazine like Symbolia and the length of stories can be intimidating to younger readers and can also turn off older readers who don’t have the time. So, by presenting news in a format as familiar as a comic, more readers may be drawn into checking out Symbolia’s stories.
“There’s still a hurdle to get over with many editors in explaining that this work is true and accurate,” said Matt Bors, who is the comics journalism editor at Cartoon Movement, a website for both fiction and nonfiction cartoons, so, Polgreen understands that there is a belief that real journalism cannot be told through a comic strip, but she is all for proving them wrong. The comics are fact-checked and run through editors just like real news stories, so they should be given the credibility that a real news story is given.
Polgreen’s task does not seem easy, but it sure is innovative and in a world that rewards the innovators, Polgreen may be on to something.