Yes, I admit it. I read the daily comics, about two dozen in all. I get them from the internet, of course; all the usual suspects of my generation.
Calvin and Hobbes. Dilbert. Ziggy. Doonesbury. Garfield. Shoe. Bloom County. Now I’m getting ready to create my own family comic strip using iPhoto and
Magiq, the enhanced Comic Life from Plasq.
Most of us, Mac users or Windows users, read our favorite comics. Whether stupid or political or full of chuckles or slices of lives we have or wish we didn’t, the comic strip and the comic book are American entertainment staples.
Create your own comic book or comic strip? You’re kidding, right? You have to be an artist and a writer and it takes work to create even a single panel of something funny, let alone a strip or a book.
Wrong. It’s actually much easier when you have the right tools and an attitude. Since you’re a Mac user, I assume you already have the attitude. Now you need the tools.
Apple gives us one very important tool in iPhoto. It’s been around a few years. So have digital cameras. Chances are good you’ve loaded up your copy of iPhoto with a few thousand family and friends photos.
What Comic Life Magiq does is let you drag and drop all the elements you need to create a family comic book, or comic strip. Family comics.
First, open Magiq to get to the chic new charcoal interface that’s all the rage these days on any Mac graphics application. Charcoal is professional. White and gray is sooooo 1999.
What you get onscreen initially are a bunch of pre-designed templates for comics. Backgrounds, headlines, comic boxes, all the basics. Inside Magiq’s screen is an iPhoto photo browser so you can drag your digital pictures straight into one of the Magiq windows.
Resize using the handles on the photo; crop, stretch, zoom in or out. Use your own photos to create a story line in visual form, in sequence. It’s all drag and drop.
Then, add text balloons just like the comic strips have. Thought balloons, talking balloons, even Zap, and Pow!, and bright, oversized comic strip lettering. It’s drag and drop, then drag to resize.
You have complete control of all the comic strip elements. It’s actually easy. Change borders and backgrounds to whatever size and thickness you like. Make text smaller or larger.
Even use your iSight camera to take a snapshot of whatever, and drop it into the comic strip frame. Then add text. You can also drop in shapes and modify each window frame. All drag and drop, stretch, shrink to size.
I’ve used Comic Life, a previous Plasq application which created decent comic strips, but Magiq is actually easier and does more.
There’s only one gotcha, and it’s a big one, though it diminishes over time. A comic strip requires copy, text, content—you have to say something, either funny or not.
Those talking and thought balloons don’t just fill in by themselves, you know.
Comic strips are often conversations between two characters. Start with one. Add a talking balloon and write into it what you want to say. Then do it again with a different photo dropped into a different strip frame. Add more text.
Things start to flow together quickly and easily after the first few attempts.
Magiq comes with an image editor and all kinds of little tools to make comic strip elements. Object spray cans, backgrounds, props, and much more. Create a single page comic, a multi-page strip, a whole family comic book.
Print out what you create in vivid full color. Or, save it as a color PDF. Or, export it as an email, an image for Flickr, as a web page, or iPhoto image, or iWeb.
One thing I’ll say for all the software from Plasq—these guys know their way around comic strips and Mac software that is downright fun and easy to use.
Magiq is a whopping 200-megabyte applications and runs on most recent Macs. It’s just a blast. The bigger your screen, the better.
The only thing left to say is, ‘Give it a try.’ It’s a free download and you can play around with all the tools. It’s fun. It’s a great family project, or a really shrewd way to get back at your ex with a few revealing photos and captions.