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Escapist Friction: Creating Comics on the iPad Is Likely Still a Matter of Time

As excited as many are for Apple’s upcoming iPad release, a slide during Apple’s unveiling got me thinking about the device’s merits as not only a medium for consuming entertainment, but also as a platform for creation.

With a screen size and resolution seemingly suited for the task at hand, what’s really essential for future creator use is an application that either ports existing industry standard software (Adobe Photoshop, Manga Studio EX, etc.) or augments current iPhone apps to handle multi-touch capabilities on a more generous canvas. Multitasking that allows the cross pollination of programs is also a must, as very few creators rely on only one piece of software at a time to render their work.

That sounds easy enough. If painting a New Yorker cover can already be handled on an iPhone, its more powerful offspring should be able to tackle the task at hand without much sweat, right?

Sadly, not yet. Until the device supports pressure sensitivity and peripherals simulating a brush or pen, we’re still just looking at an extremely sophisticated form of digital finger painting.It’s a bit unfair to ask the device for perfection. The iPad doesn’t proclaim to be a workhorse for art creation by any means – it’s an entertainment device first and foremost and an imperfect one at that. At an entry level price of $500, there are very few other devices (and legally obtained accompanying software) that would come close to meeting the demands of most serious pros.

The bottom line, however, is that it’s unlikely any serious comic artist will be rushing to put their Cintiqs on Craigslist just yet.

Still, we’re looking at a generation 1 device that won’t hit the market for another 60 days or so. The future is definitely out there and the iPad or a similar machine could give everyone from Webcomickers to Big Two artisans a functional platform for handling everything from creation to digital distribution in a relatively short timespan.

So will this version of the iPad lead to comics created, distributed and read on one mobile device? Probably not, but it’s a step in a potentially very cool direction.

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