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Stela makes comics built for the smartphone

Now showing on your phone

Like Hulu for Comics

While many publishers have begun to create content specifically for phones and tablets, comics have largely missed the call of digital first. Displaying comics on phones was always “an afterthought,” said Jim Gibbons, the senior editor of Stela, a new publisher and app that’s creating comics designed for smartphone display.

Stela makes “a conscious effort to tell the best stories possible in this specific format,” Gibbons told us. “I mean, you can probably fit that square peg into the round hole if you try hard enough, but why not just put the round peg in there?”

The comics on Stela are all displayed on “infinite vertical canvas,” meaning a quick thumb swipe reveals the next panel.

With this format, “each panel is just as important as the last,” said Gibbons. There are no big splash pages to emphasize a particular moment, he added.

Gibbons hopes this new format will make comic enthusiasts out of more consumers. “Nowadays with comic book movies and TV shows all over, everyone—nerd or not, so to speak—is talking about comics-related stuff,” he said. “So, with Stela, we make it simple. The comics get beamed directly to your phone, just like your Hulu comics shows. It makes it easy to become a comic book fan or easier to scratch that constant comics itch if you’re already a big reader.”

Although comic creators were initially a bit worried about the potential limitations of the phone format, Gibbons now finds that many are enthusiastic about the possibilities.

Those creators include indie storytellers like Irene Koh, who has created the Afrina and the Glass Coffin, an anime series; and Ron Wimberly with GratNin, a mystical tale of a young ninja living in Brooklyn.

Stela currently releases 160 pages of new content a month for $4.99 per month, but the first chapter of each comic is free.

Currently, the app is only available on iOS, though an Android app will arrive in the near future. Download Stela right here.

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