You may be confused and somewhat curious about the cartoons that have been appearing in your Facebook newsfeed recently. Advertised as “Comics starring you and your friends,” these are the App Store’s current #1 free application, “Bitstrips.”
Bitstrips allows you to create a cartoon character that looks like you–and that you can have interact with your friends’ characters in virtual comic strips. You can choose from a variety of “scenes” to create for yourself or with a Facebook friend who also uses the app.
Bitstrips CEO Jacob Blackstock tells the Baltimore Sun that, “Bitstrips is hard to categorize because it’s not a game, it’s a new way to express yourself and interact with your friends. Instead of posting the same things as everyone else, you can create something that relates to your life.”
Though launched in 2008 solely as a Facebook app, the application became popular this month due to the release of the iOS app.
Reviews – Positive and Negative
The app has received many positive and negative reviews. Many people like to make them for themselves and with their friends, but others say that Bitstrips clog their newsfeeds and are usually unoriginal.
Gil Maher, Syracuse University junior, offers: ”I want to figure out how to block Bitstrips. It takes poorly executed inside jokes and puts them on my newsfeed.” Blogger Jonathan Anker says: “Bitstrips are the reason your grown-up Facebook feed now looks like the wall of an elementary school’s art room. Hoping to find out what one of your friends did this weekend? Well, would you settle for a Microsoft Paint-quality cartoon of your friend’s likeness swimming in a pool above a hokey caption instead?”
If you loved designing avatars with those many websites in the early 2000s, you’ll likely love this app–but beware of the very negative stigma associated with Bitstrips created by dissatisfied viewers. Though most reviews tend to be negative towards this app, those who use it successfully can make Facebook users chuckle at their virtual cartoons.
So if you are interested in using this app and your semi-artistic skills to create a funny Bitstrip, here’s how to use it once you’ve downloaded the app:
1) Sign in with Facebook. Bitstrips gives you the option of signing in with Facebook and says “Sign in without Facebook coming soon!” and a button that says “Tell me when it’s ready.”
2) Create your avatar. The Bitstrips application gives you a variety of detailed options for creating your comic character. You can choose between several physical features, including face shape, eyes, nose, mouth, hairstyle, outfit, body shape, even jaw.
After you build your ideal avatar, click ‘Finish’ and then ‘Save’ to head to the next step. You can also edit your avatar any time by clicking the ‘Update Your Look’ icon.
3) Create your comic. If you hit the icon with the pencil at the bottom of the screen, you will be able to make a comic. You are given the option of making a status comic, friend comic or a greeting card.
A status comic will only feature your avatar, and can be a variety of different scenes. You will be provided with a list of moods (i.e. good, bad, weird) or situations (i.e. holidays, work, play, home) or announcements (i.e. good news, this just happened, questions, invitations).
A friend comic will allow you to incorporate other people in your comic.
After creating your avatar, you are now in the system and your avatar can be used by any other friend that also uses Bitstrips.
You can view a list of friends that have Bitstrips and add them to your Bitstrip comics and feed.
Or Block Them?
If you don’t want to try Bitstrips and never want to see them again, Buzzfeed shares tips on how to block Bitstrips.
But if you’re confident enough to try it out, follow my instructions and see how it goes. My best suggestion for using this app is to be sure your comic is funny enough to share on Facebook.
Pick a topic that everyone will find funny and/or can relate to. As Facebook users are becoming more and more easily annoyed with what’s on their timelines, a bland or confusing comic will not receive good feedback. Since Bitstrips has a stigma of being lame and obnoxious, be very careful how you use this app. The comics can be funny, just use your judgment make the right choices!
What are your thoughts on Bitstrips? Comment below or tweet to @brittanyander!