PowFolio Exec & Comic writer David Campiti gives us his know-how on his mind-shattering comic app PowFolio.
Splats of Blood: How are you able to make such a huge library of comics free for users?
David Campiti: “Free content, ad-supported” has long been a workable business model. Think about it: You turn on a radio and get music or talk shows or sports. Or a TV, and there you get every kind of programming you can imagine — movies, scripted TV shows, talk shows, so-called reality shows, news, lots more. Sure, you sit through commercials, but the shows are free to watch. That business model has carried over to free newspapers and free magazines, so why not a great free streaming comics app? Sure, there are plenty of other apps, but not streaming, not free, not quite like this.
If you’ve had a chance to try the PowFolio app, you’ll see that GlowDot has carefully crafted a wonderful app, extremely easy to use and navigate through. If you’ve used Netflix, for example, you’ll feel right at home with PowFolio, whether you’re using Android or iOs.
To that end, we needed to offer something for everyone — so we put out the word to all the publishers that we wanted all genres, all types of books. And we got them! Dozens of publishers, many hundreds of titles, many thousands of comics. We’re adding more publishers on a regular basis, and new comics almost daily — as fast as we can.
Superhero, steampunk, leading ladies, romance, horror, adventure, western, science fiction, action, fantasy, comedy, anthropomorphic, and more. Plus not only are there current comics, and a whole section devoted to Kids comics, there’s a massive section of great Golden Age goodies. If you’ve read about the wonderful comics of the ’30s and ’40s, now you can read the comics themselves — The Spirit and the original Captain Marvel and Plastic Man and those scary horror comics of the 50s and so on. A real treasure trove of fun, all at your fingertips, all free, all streaming fast even over data, and not clogging up one iota of space on your hard drive.
Splats of Blood: Why comics? That is, what about comics draws you to them and made you want to make them accessible for others?
David Campiti: I’ve been a comic book fan for as long as I can remember. I read comics for enjoyment — in the back seat of the car when our family drove anywhere, at home, with friends. Comics were a part of my life. I could find comics everywhere. McNamara’s Drug Store up the street carried almost everything, whether it was Marvel, DC, Archie, Harvey, Fawcett, Classics Illustrated, Dell, Tower, Warren, Skywald. A few blocks away, Kroger’s carried any comics prices at a quarter or more. Ten minutes away in downtown Wheeling, five stores carried comics. It’s not like that any longer.
Today, comic books have shrunk into a niche market of maybe 1,800 comics shops serviced by one distributor, with a few scattered higher-visibility comics carried by places like Barnes & Noble. It’s a chore, a journey for adults to get comics, let alone kids. Kids can’t peddle a bicycle 60 miles to a comics shop and then shell out four bucks per book. The market is graying, shrinking — when it should be expanding.
And yet the market for everything made from comic books is growing: The movies and TV series and video games and toys and dolls and costumes and other merchandise. Billions and billions of dollars for just something like The Avengers, and yet most of the people watching the movies and buying The Avengers merchandise have never held The Avengers comic book in their hands. It’s crazy that way.
PowFolio is the way we change all that. Many thousands of comics, plus even art books and children’s books, 100% free, streaming right on your device, at your fingertips whenever you want. You’re alerted via push notifications to new content practically every day.
Splats of Blood: This app is constantly improving; what new features do we have to look forward to in the future?
David Campiti: We’re looking at two things near and dear to our hearts: One is setting up a system so that single, independent creators can submit their books for review to be a part of PowFolio. The other is a way for parents to segment the Kids section for their youngest children.
Yet even if you’ve used the app, you might have missed one of its coolest features. Glowdot added a Public Chat Room function unlike any I’ve seen in an app. Touch the little word balloon in the upper right corner, and it opens a Chat room where you can type-chat in real time with any PowFolio user on the planet who also goes to that room. What’s more, let’s say you’re a big fan of, say, Pixies. You can open a Private Chat Room under Pixies and chat with other Pixies fans right there. It’s another way to connect comics readers all over the world, and I love it.
Splats of Blood: Do you have a favorite genre/title?
David Campiti: My favorites have changed across the years. I was a big superhero fan growing up — I read Spider-Man and Fantastic Four and Superman and so many others. Believe it or not, as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate the other genres. I find myself reading Archie Comics again, for example.
The PowFolio app, with its many Golden Age comics, has opened up a world of books I’d only read about across the decades. Now I can read them without spending a dime.
Splats of Blood: What kinds of challenges did you/are you facing while designing the app?
David Campiti: Coding, getting the bugs out, and ease of use are always challenges. That’s why we went through an extensive beta phase before the actual rollouts. Technically speaking, the most impressive visual challenge was how to stream, in very high quality, all of the pages of every book. .Jpgs and .tifs and .psds and all the usual formats couldn’t do it justice. I view PowFolio on my full-sized iPad Pro. It has to look great at that size, larger that a physical printed comic book, for us to be satisfied.
Splats of Blood: What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of creating the app?
David Campiti: Getting kids to read comics! That was a given thing, years ago. Now we have a whole generation of children where most of them have never held a comic book in their hands. They know the animation and movies and everything else but not the comics. What’s more the stuff the kids DO read is on a screen these days. I took my daughter to a birthday party the other day, and all the kids were playing on their devices! (Laughs) Yet they were all playing the same thing! My sixth-grade daughter reads much of her textbook stuff on a screen. So it’s only natural that kids respond to comic books on their screens now.
Sure, they can’t roll up the comic and stick it in their back pocket, but the trade-off is they now have thousands of comics in one place, streaming so it takes up no space.
Splats of Blood: Do you have any personal favorites or recommendations of the comics, novels, and manga that are available in the library?
David Campiti: Of course! In the Golden Age section, I’m really enjoying reading all the old stuff with Captain Marvel and The Spirit. In the Modern era stuff, I recommend Tesla by Terry Keefe, David Lawrence, and Bong Dazo — the historical character teaming wth Mark Twain in a buddies-type adventure. There’s also Last Blood, by Bobby Crosby and Owen Gieni, a horror comic that’s been optioned as a feature film. In the Kids section, A Cat Named Haiku is a sweet children’s book. I also recommend Magika, by Kevin Juaire, Wilson Tortosa, and Sebastian Chang, but that is admittedly self-serving…it’s based on Niko: The Journey to Magika, an animated feature film that I produced and did voices for, which is available free on Hulu! (Laughs)
Splats of Blood: Do you think comics have influenced or shaped you into who you are today? How?
David Campiti: Yes, of course they did. I mean, I grew up wanting to write comics and work with Stan Lee. And I did! (Laughs) I wrote Stan Lee’s How To Draw Comics with The Man himself…what more can you ask for? I’ve written Superman, Lost in Space, Dark Shadows, THUNDER Agents, Exposure, Jade Warriors, and so many others — and yes, those last two are available right now on PowFolio! After meeting her at a Comics Seminar I was teaching, I married Jinky Coronado, writer/artist of Banzai Girl, artist of Pandora’s Blogs and Avalon High. I am CEO of Glass House Graphics, an international animation studio, and comics artist agency. I’ve been in the comics biz for 34 years. So yeah, it’s pretty safe to say that comics have influenced and shaped my life. And with PowFolio, I continue to pass it forward.