Ciaj Rocchi and Matteo Demonte create the first interactive graphic novel in Italy. Most of the work is made in only one month; a first digital version is presented to the publisher BeccoGiallo who enthusiastically encourage to finish the work and publish it on iBooks Store. Here is an interview with Ciaj Rocchi where she talks about her experience:
Why did you decide to make an interactive comic?
I have always been attracted by the potential of digital technology and with regard to the reading experience, I often imagined it could be synesthetic. Think about how would it be to read a novel like Harry Potter's newspaper with its soundtrack and animated pages. Not just an audio book, a comic, a movie, a video game, a Gamebook, or a concept album, but all of these things together. An innovative reading experience, integrated with music and ambience, videos, animations, but not only multimedia elements, an reading experience where the reader may choose to read the book from different points of view, choosing a character. Well... a totally different experience. So in the last two years I have been investigating the world of interactive ebook, a bit out of curiosity and a bit for work reasons, and when it came the time to make Primavere e Autunni, Matteo and I thought it was not worth doing a flat pdf, so we decided to experiment different things with it. It wasn't difficult at all with the comic because we already had all the images; we have used PubCoder, which is usually used for digital kids literature, so we focused on a playful reading experience using the interactions in the book, so it's up yo the reader's curiosity to discover and unveil hidden surprises inside it.
What response do you expect from the public? What are your expectations as you turn to an adult audience unaccustomed to interactivity?
We think the world is changing rapidly. Five years ago the generation over 50, was technologically illiterate; Today, that same generation spends more time on Facebook of the younger ones. An example, think about the e-commerce: at the beginning people did not trust to use their credit cards online, today, only in Italy Amazon, with a really widespread distribution, sells more than any other national bookstore chain. In America there are 3D app comics where characters move in different environments... here in Italy we are not there yet, but we believe it is only a matter of time. The more we'll have good high quality products, the more the process of digitalisation will speed up. For now I can say that thanks to this interactive ebook, we have been contacted by a group of high school teachers in Pozzuoli (Naples) for a project and Comicon that it will adopt a path of laboratories dedicated to reading and creative writing.
The world of digital comics is evolving rapidly, with sales in the US over $100 million in 2015 alone; according to you, will traditional comics be completely replaced by digital comics? And what is the market in Italy?
We should consider the two as distinct objects. The charm of the paper book is irreplaceable: the smell of ink, the yellow pages as well as his physicality, the hardness of the cover, the feeling of having it in your hands...The digital ones instead, as it happened to the film industry, not only it reduces production costs but it also allows to shift the patterns we are used to and then give back new perceptions and experiences. The two are not mutually exclusive, as we see a vinyl records comeback despite mp3. In Italy the world of comics is not a big: small and medium-sized publishers are struggling to survive, the audience is aging, young people read mostly manga...In recent years, with the growing phenomenon of the graphic novel/journalism, the public has learned to recognize this medium and its value as a ninth art, but when it comes to interactive comics we believe that ours is the only one in Italy!