Over the years, comic books transformed from a niche product marketed to a dorky demographic to a legitimate art form and important business. The release of critically-acclaimed crossover comics like Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and Maus in the 1980s are big examples. Let’s not forget the massive mainstream success of comic-inspired movies like Spider-Man, The Dark Knight, and The Avengers either. As if comics couldn’t become more mainstream, it appears someone has gone and created a software program just for people who write comics.
The software is called ComiXwriter, and it’s essentially aiming to be for comic book writers what Final Draft is for screenwriters. It’s the product of Glenn Farrington, a screenwriter who has previously founded Digital Seas International, a business dedicated to ensuring that every major cruise line in the world has its own Internet cafe. It’s somewhat of a sideways shift, but at least it shows some entrepreneurial background.
According to the announcement of the software, Farrington realized the need for the product after a publisher greenlit a graphic novel project of his. Unlike his screenwriting experiences, Farrington noticed that “there’s no software that gives you the full ease of putting down structure and freeing you up for more important things like story.” ComiXwriter will do more than just help with format, however; the announcement promises that it will “allow outlining, annotation, saving to a pdf and most importantly, give it the functionality of being able to collaborate with other vital members of the team – The Artist, Colorist and Letterer.”
The software was created by Farrington with the help of his partner Steven Sashen, who has previously worked on the screenwriting software Scriptware. The duo used research data gathered from professional comic book writers about what is actually needed to create a comic book script. The press release includes quotations from writers including John Rogers, who’s written for DC and IDW Comics, Mike Carey, whose work includes Marvel Comics’ X-Men, and former Judge Dredd writer Alan Grant, so they’ve definitely reached out to some well-known names.
There is, of course, a catch: ComiXwriter doesn’t exist just yet, and it won’t be released unless a Kickstarter campaign that launches on June 25 is successful. “Kickstarter, with its crowd funding model, has not only proven to help projects like ours cross a finish line, but it also makes them winners by creating international awareness,” Farrington said. It’s likely that he’s counting on the comics community online to not only fund the release, but act as viral marketing to create an audience for it.
Whether it’s a tactic that will work is unclear. Although there are plenty of successful comic-related Kickstarter projects, the comic community has become increasingly cynical about the ideas being offered through the site. Comic creators have survived without ComiXwriter before now – will they be convinced about a genuine need for it now?