Comic-O-Matic Developer's Blog

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Recent Feedback for New Features

It’s been a year and a half since I last added anything to Comic-O-Matic, but it’s clear that people are still using it!  Hurrah! I got an email today from a user,  http://williamahuston.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-fracker-and-nimby.html, who sent along some suggestions.  I decided to post them here, with my responses.  Getting back under the hood, so to speak, programming Comic-O-Matic to add some new features would take some doing, but I’m perhaps far enough away from it now to be able to take the plunge back in.

So without further ado, here are the suggestions, and my off-the-top-of-my-head replies:

1) Add a BG image instead of a color.

Hmm. I hadn’t thought about that as a possibility… It would involve having users upload square images.  I have thought about setting up Comic-O-Matic so that users can set up their own accounts and save their work to it, and have links to their albums.  Allowing people to upload pix would fit right into that – but I haven’t done anything so far to make accounts.

I have thought about allowing users to select their own color backgrounds after the random one has shown up -but I haven’t gotten around to doing that – it’s still random within Nina’s palette for her Mimi & Eunice web comic (http://mimiandeunice.com/), but you can refresh to a different random choice until you get the one(s) you want.  Not very efficient!

2) Have an intro label either above or below (“Later that evening…”)

I’m not sure if I had a reason for only putting them on the top…  I can do it either place, but I think I put them on the top so that they wouldn’t cut off the feet. And I wasn’t giving the user a choice, mostly because I didn’t know how to make the interface work cleanly to offer that choice I’ll look into it.

 3) Be able to omit one or both characters.

That seems possible – just make the character choice be nothing.  That wouldn’t be too hard.

 4) Have a speech bubble with no arrow  (as in a frame with no characters.. they are talking, but out of view).

That’s a possibility,  Not sure how to represent that in the interface, though having an empty choice (talk, thought, nothing) might work.

The other thing which would be very useful would be to a) define my own eyes, mouth, character

I have thought about that, too, but again, it would require setting up accounts.  The parameters for making it work are a little tight – Nina made the character outline just for this (I added the Hallowe’en ones), and the eyes and mouths came from her Face-O-Matic (http://www.faceomatic.com – I programed that one first), which she created and originally had printed up on playing cards, to help in visual storytelling workshops. I met her when she came to the school where I worked to do some such workshops with our students, and immediately saw the web possibilities of the faces.

b) maybe add additional rows of modifiers, arms, legs, nose?

I had included the possibility of adding a nose, but in talking with Nina, she felt that noses really never add anything to the emotive aspect of the characters. Of course, they would help differentiate the characters.

The characters as is have really different configurations of arms and legs (paws/tentacles), making it harder to come up with variations.  One of the things I’ve liked about the interface is that it’s easy to build a strip, and I’m not sure adding that level of detail would help. Again, maybe if i were to set up user accounts, it might be possible to include pose variations for the characters used.  Hmm.. I’ll have to think about it.

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