NARR8 digital comic book app: an interview with Darya Trushkina
Digital comics are a growing medium. With tablets and smart phones so readily available, it only makes sense that comic book companies utilize this technology to reach a new market. As the digital comic revolution grows, so does the method of storytelling. From Infinity Comics to Guided View, these innovations have made the digital comics experience more like watching a movie than just simple reading comics. But there is a new app that takes it one step further, by adding motion, music and sound effects to the comics. This new app, NARR8, has opened a whole new frontier in digital storytelling. Mind of the Geek’s own Mansa Herndon had the chance to catch up with NARR8’s Senior Vice President Darya Trushkina to find out more about the app.
Mansa Herndon: What was the idea behind the creation of NARR8?
Darya Trushkina: We wanted a mix of entertainment and education in one place, so basically we wanted to bring the fun back to reading. We were concerned by the steady decline in younger generations’ reading habits. They don’t read anymore they just click, click, click their content. So that’s how NARR8 started, by giving people the option to have fun, but also to learn.
MH: How long did it take to see this project take fruition?
DT: The idea for NARR8 started in February and launched officially in November 2012. Luckily for NARR8, we had a great group of investors, IMI.vc, with Russian tech heavyweight Igor Matsanyuk, at the helm. We were lucky enough to have a professional team behind NARR8, who had significant experience in developing successful mobile content (like our sister company Game Insight).
MH: NARR8 could have been a simple digital comics app. Wwhat led to the idea to include animation and sound?
DT: As for any company, we knew that we needed to create something different. As comic book fans and gamers alike, one day we thought to combine the two – bring motion, games, animation, and sound to this static medium.
Why not bring them to life? We couldn’t think of anything we would rather do.
MH: What are the comic genres NARR8 carries?
DT: NARR8 carries a slew of genres; anything from action (JAM) to sci-fi (Multiverse), horror (Fear Hunters), romance (Agency), and educational content with a focus on biographies (Biographics), inventions (Eureka) and word association for children (The Panda & Boom).
MH: Does NARR8 have a target audience or will the app try to cater to all taste?
DT: We like to say that NARR8 caters to everyone – with content for people ranging from 2-95. Our most popular demographic at this time is split 60/40 between males and females ages 25-34. We will also begin to target newer audiences during different phases of NARR8’s growth – such as younger children with educational content in the next year, etc.
MH: How were you able to convince the creators to be a part of this project?
DT: Convincing the creators to be a part of this project wasn’t the hard part, we are all very passionate about comics and gaming, and have been in the business for quite some time. When the idea for NARR8 rolled around, the question was how to create the best possible content – content that would be successful in the mobile market and would have some heavy competitive leverage.
MH: The comics I have seen on NARR8 are original comics. Are they creator owned properties?
DT: The comics on NARR8 are created by ten in-house studios, all of which live under the roof of NARR8’s headquarters in Moscow, Russia. Here all aspects of creation take place – art, animation, sounds, content, etc. Additional content outside of NARR8 series, such as StoryBuilder comics, belong to the users who create them using our StoryBuilder self publishing tool (editor.narr8.me) This tool allows users, artists, writers and fans to create their own comics and upload them to our app that boasts over 1 million users.
MH: Will comic companies be allowed to bring their properties to NARR8?
DT: We are very interested in well-known IP’s owned by indie developers whose content can be transferred into interactive content on NARR8. The highest priority for us right now is educational content, and content targeting the younger audience, as well as any independent content which can be self published on NARR8 through StoryBuilder.
MH: Even with the innovations that NARR8 presents how will you compete with Marvel and DC’s digital comic platforms?
DT: We consider Marvel and DC as companies we would like to do business with in the nearest future, licensing their content onto NARR8 or vice versa, as well as the possibility to develop some interactive content based on DC and Marvel’s IPs.
MH: How much is each book?
DT: NARR8 is free to download and the first two episodes are free as well. After that, each episode costs the average of $1 USD. The best part about our monetization model, however, is that you don’t have to purchase NARRs as long as you are active on the app. You receive NARRs for logging in each day, for sharing our stories on Facebook or Twitter, or for being active within our embedded social forum. If you don’t have time to be as active, however, you have the choice to purchase.
MH: Where would you like to see NARR8 in the future?
DT: Personally, I see NARR8 becoming an app for more than just comics – I see interactive content of all kinds filling the app – whether it be videos, games and more. I hope to see it become a one-stop-shop for interactive content. Instead of having YouTube, GoodReads, and Candy Crush, you have NARR8 – with all content wrapped into one.