Many people, myself included, have been wondering these past weeks what those delightful comic sketches my friends have been posting, where the characters looked so much like them. Well, it seems that I have been a ?victim? of Bitstrips, the current app craze in the social network universe.
Which is why I decided to try it out today.
Bitstrips, I discovered, was available initially as a web browser / Facebook app but it has then released mobile apps for iOS (iPhones, iPads) and Android devises.
It was interesting going to the Facebook app page and designing my own ?Avatar? and eventually creating my own comic vignette to share.
Of course, while doing so, Bitstrip got me extremely curious as to how it all started.
The creators of Bitstrips, Jacob Blackstock and Shahan Panth, planted the germ of Bitstrips twenty years ago when they were classmates in high school.
Back then, Jacob, just like many high school kids, drew cartoon spoofs of famous comic characters ( in his case, it was Charlie Brown and Lucy of the comic strip ?Peanuts?) and passed it to his buddy Shahan who sat behind him in their Year 12 English class. Although they were often reprimanded for such behaviour, Panth prodded Blackstock to keep on doing his spoofs on life with the comic drawings.
Jacob and Shahan remained friends years after and even when they were parted due to job moves, Jacob managed to fax Shahan comic sketches featuring drawings of Shahan himself with outrageous lines and commentaries.
Shahan Panth amusingly remembers that ? I can’t even repeat some of the things that he would say in those comics, but it was as about bad as you can possibly imagine.?
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Video: How to Use Facebook app Bitstrips (Donna Hammer / YouTube)
All this fun and friendly exchange somehow managed to pay off when Blackstock and Panth created Bitstrips in 2007, as a way to make a comic strip counterpart of the video-sharing site YouTube. It was just coasting along as a novelty app used in browsers until October 2013 when they released their mobile app for iOS ( iPhone, iPad )and Android gadgets.
And as proof of their success, Google trends has ranked them higher than such app blockbusters like Vine (Twitter’s video app), Facebook’s Instagram app and gaming phenomenon Candy Crush. Talk about beating the big boys.
Blackstock, who is a young 38 year old, has taken stock of their success and is even worried about being too successful. He said that ? A ridiculous amount of people have been loving Bitstrips so much that many of them are sharing their comics to the point that it can be overwhelming to those that aren’t into it?.
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Video: How to Make a Good Bitstrips Person (xxluceyy / YouTube)
With this in mind, he and Panth, who is just a year older at 39, have already included options that enable users to just share their comic sketches with certain groups and not the entire list of their social networks.
Blackstock and Panth hope to transform Bitstrips into a profitable venture and not just a passing fad. Having raised US$ 3 Million Dollars in venture funds from a notable capitalist ( Li Ka-shing of Horizon Ventures) and increasing their staff to 17, the two friends hope to make Bitstrips a lasting avenue for social communication. Blackstock reiterates this when he says that ? We don’t see this as a joke engine…We see this as a new medium for self-expression.?
Photo Source: https://apps.facebook.com/bitstrips/