To encourage the individual irrespective of age, gender, race, abilities or disabilities to realise that they are the hero of their own life, and that the deeds, actions and moral choices they make define their impact on society.
Hello and Welcome!
I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting our little companies homepage.
Firstly a little about me, Andrew the inventor and illustrator of the selfie comic-Fresh Quest.
I designed this little app accidentally when my nephew in New Zealand suffered a brain tumor, age 12. Living overseas at the time there was nothing I could do to assist but to try and distract him from the unimaginable situation of pending brain surgery. So I put my design skills to good use and PhotoShopped the obligatory family holiday, Christmas, and birthday photos into an adventure story where he was the hero. I complied the document into a pdf and emailed it over to his parents. He could read it in the hospital ward on his iPad as it worked offline, (mobiles signals can interfere with vital medical equipment). The saga continued for some time and I produced a dozen comics and the story and my skills improved too. Fortunately, the tumor was benign and his recovery was good if not perfect.
It finally dawned on my wife and me that all children are heroes sooner or later and so I developed the comic book into an Apple app that embeds the reader's face into the illustrations. It works on any child from any gender, culture, or ethnicity. So they are the hero.
The actual development of the app was slow, expensive, and painful with App Developers wasting months and money. Only to deliver software riddled with problems and too heavy for Apple to deploy onto the App Store. So fortunately my brother-in-law invested a great deal of free time in bringing the app to industry standard.
I’m based in Singapore and the software guy and my proofreader/researcher are based in NZ. So ones a parent and then two teachers, we want the app to be safe for all. As it works offline there are no ads, no data transfer, and most importantly NO image transfers, so all the selfies stay in the reader's device. All the financials are handled by Apple.
As a teacher of twenty-seven years, I want children to learn subconsciously so the comic book has a glossary and an etymology. The child can discover new words and understand not just the correct spelling but also the meaning and history of the word. It's user-focused and designed to give confidence and develop imagination during those important formative years. I had reading problems as a child and moved from picture books through Spiderman comics to science fiction (Asimov, Banks, Bradbury, Clark and Orwell) to art history (more picture books) to my degree at Kingston University. So I believe picture books are an important bridge for many children in their reading development more than people realize.
I’m English and I’ve worked as a product designer in London, New York, Sydney, and Singapore. My client base was SWATCH, Naomi Campbell, TEFAL, Polaroid, AT&T, Cosmopolitan Cosmetics, PUMA, P&G, etc. I’ve lectured in product design at St Martins School of Art, London, Farnham, Cincinnati Academy, Bucharest Academy, and more recently UNSW Sydney.
What's wrong with comics?
Comics or illustrated or graphic novels have been criticized by parents for many years for preventing children from reading real books. I must confess as a child I had reading difficulties, probably up to the age of fourteen. I always received top grades in the arts, especially sketching (computers hadn’t been invented yet) but my written and maths subjects were simply appalling. My parents discussed the issues with my school and I even attended underage reading classes in the hope that something may spark my interest in words.
Like all children, I found a bridge from toddler picture books to illustrated novels which after three or four years led me to read classic sci-fi novels by the greatest writers of that genre ie Author C. Clark, Ray Bradbury, Ian Banks, and of course Isaac Asimov. I’m not sure why science fiction appealed so much, perhaps it was the escapism or the fact the reader had to imagine a society and technology that doesn't exist yet. Where it's far easier to imagine a knight in armor standing beside a stone castle. I took my degree in Product Design in London in the late 80s, graduated, and took my first design job in New York. And in this profession, all we do is imagine the future as the ever-changing technological advancements meant we are working at least two or three years into the future. Now in 2022, I’m an Illustrator and App Designer developing a sci-fi app (and potentially a children's book series) for children that will engage and educate them. Looks like I’ve gone full circle!
So here are my reasons why I believe comics have an important role to play in children's reading development.
Improves a Sense of Sequence. The comic strip can be read and reread numerous times flicking in both directions and seeing how a story unfolds helps teach children about sequencing and flow. Comics like books have a beginning a middle and an end to a story climax. This helps children to understand the concept of story structure. With boys especially the action happens within the first few pages of the comic and grabs their attention. Where a word-based novel there is a long journey of grey pages before reaching a chapter climax.
Builds Confidence. Children with special needs or dyslexia can become engrossed in a comic, feeling compelled to complete the story which in turn gives a sense of accomplishment. For young readers, the engagement with action and superhero adventures helps to build confidence, especially in boys who are impatient and want to see a result quickly. There is a unique degree of engagement where children make their own comics and copy illustrations of superheroes (I made figurines from modeling clay and painted them, perhaps that's the 3D designer in me). But it would be unusual for children to sit and write their own novel to the same degree.
Improves Visual Literacy. The styles, colors, and details used to convey action-packed scenarios on distant planets can help excite the mind and communicate to the reader on a different plane, especially for the visually gifted child who is faced with a wall of grey text.
Increases Vocabulary. Clearly, Comics have fewer words than a pictureless book but often in order to be economic much bigger words are chosen to clarify an emotion or dynamic scene. I remember as a child a page without pictures was seriously intimidating, just pages of grey! The graphic novel should be seen as an essential part of the reading development journey.
Teaches Art Appreciation. The illustrations in comics can be classics in their own right. and for a child to own and cherish the artwork helps give a sense of pride.
Helps Develop Inference. The graphic novel is in some ways more challenging than a word-based novel as drawings, text, and sequence have to be sewn together by the reader. The degree of inference by the child is much greater as every action or scene cannot be drawn. For example, the character stands in front of a locked door holding a key. In the next scene, the character is inside the room. In a movie, the director would show the character open the door and walks in. In a comic, the character appears in the room or in the doorway and the child must piece together the jigsaw of stages that made this happen-inference.
Slows Down Skimming. Due to the complex and visually rich nature of comic illustrations, the young reader often slows down and explores all the corners of the imaginary world that lays before them.
Shared with Parents and Siblings. Whether it's cuddling up with your dad and reading together on the sofa or bedtime reading, or play-acting with your brother and sister. The comic narrative is much easier to digest and share in role-playing with friends.
Develop a Love of Reading. Reading is Reading! Would you prefer your child to be watching cat video’s on youTube or playing video games? Or sitting reading a comic is a far more enriching activity as outlined in the points above.
Comics are Engaging and Fun! Humans are very pleasure-based creatures and we tend to loiter on activities we find fun and ignore activities we find boring. So any extended time reading has to be good for children. During the app development, I observed how boys and girls reading techniques differ. Girls begin on page one and read through the story to the last page. Boys eagerly flip through the comic to find a page that excites them, then they linger on that page fixated for days.
Your Privacy and Protection is our Concern
As a parent and a teacher, privacy has always been a serious issue in regards to children's safety and wellbeing. In this ever-changing digital world where unknown third-party software can instantly read every web action, site visit, screen-scroll (heat mapping), and attention span ('sticky'- DAU/MAU). It is vital to keep our children safe from such ever intrusive technologies.
The team at Selficom Pte Ltd has worked hard to develop a children's digital book that is safe for every child. The IOS software has no hidden mechanisms or secret code that remove/forward/upload any Data, bank details, personal details, contacts, phone numbers, or any photos (selfies) from your device. Everything stays where it should. The only company we deal with is Apple Inc, and they work very hard to keep your records secure on their server.
I do hope that the points outlined above have quelled some of your concerns about comics and especially the Fresh Quest Comic app.
If you do have any questions, concerns, or suggestions please contact me and I'd be happy to assist in any way I can.
Selficom Pte Ltd