United Media adds Comic Explorer? to its Popular Comic Zone Sites
New York, October 25, 1998 —It's been said by business consultants that allowing employees access to the Internet increases productivity and provides valuable access to mission-critical information. The problem with this theory, however, is that in addition to providing useful information, the Internet is full of Web sites whose sole purpose is to distract people from doing their jobs. Now, thanks to the release of an intriguing new project, the problem is worse. Plumb Design, United Media, and Intel announced today the launch of the Comic Explorer (, a Rube Goldberg-esque machine for reading Dilbert, Peanuts, Marmaduke, Nancy, and the rest of the thirty-one daily comics available at United Media's Comic Zone.
The Comic Explorer, a Java applet that lets visitors to the United Media site surf through hundreds of comics, is designed to encourage visitors to try new comics that they might not have read. These visitors might come to the site expecting to spend a quiet moment reading Dilbert and leave 20 minutes later having read Robotman, Reality Check, Warped, Meatloaf Night, and Top of the World.
"Before the Comic Explorer, the only way to read comics was to select them in a seemingly random order. Our intentions were to create a useful machine that calculated the optimal order in which to read the comics," says United Media's Michael Zimbalist. "After weeks of late-night phone calls, hundreds of comics pasted up on a wall connected by pushpins and rubber bands, and far more caffeine than is good for the average human, we ended up with this wacky device. We think it works."
Designed and developed by Plumb Design, the Comic Explorer itself is a fascinating visual spectacle with burbling vials of liquid, animated cartoon icons, and peel-away comics. Visitors to the site will find that the Comic Explorer makes the process of finding a comic as fun as reading it.
"The reason I like this project," says Plumb Design Executive Producer Michael Freedman, "is that I can picture employees whiling away their most productive hours arguing why Dilbert is more like Marmaduke than Nancy is like Peanuts."
The Comic Explorer is designed to showcase how Web sites can take advantage of the performance of the Intel Pentium® II processor. Using animation and other effects that are calculated in real-time, the Comic Explorer becomes a rich visual experience that encourages visitors to read more comics than they would normally have read. Visitors with the fastest Pentium® II processors encounter a more responsive and richly animated site.
"By taking advantage of the PC's power, Plumb Design has developed an entertaining and fascinating experience for reading some of the best comics available anywhere," said Tom Galvin, director of Intel's Entertainment and Education Market Development. "United Media's Comic Explorer is an excellent demonstration of visually compelling technology that entices the consumer to stay at the site longer."
The Comic Explorer is the first Java applet to serve ads using DoubleClick's network. Using a custom designed server component, the applet serves ads and passes information back to the DoubleClick DART server.
  • 31 new comics each day
  • Dilbert, Peanuts, Marmaduke, Nancy, Tarzan, For Better or For Worst, and more.
  • Requires Netscape 4+, Internet Explorer 4+ and at least a 166 MHz Pentium® processor
  • Has 4 liquid sliders that enable visitors to order the comics in any way they please. AGE OF CHARACTER sorts for the age of the lead character AGE OF COMIC sorts by the age of the comic property itself STORY CONTINUITY looks for the degree of story continuity in a comic ZOO FACTOR indicates the degree of non-human characters in the strip
  • Navigation is integrated with content using Thinkmap® (, a Java-based application that creates interactive displays that help users navigate through complex data.
  • First Java applet to serve advertisements from DoubleClick ad server
  • Java Applet is 150 Kbytes.
About United Media
United Media's maintains itself as a premiere Web destination for comic fans around the world. Recently ranked #2 entertainment site for overall efficiency (Internet World, July 1998), is loaded with exciting and fun content that utilizes cutting edge technology for optimal performance and unique viewer experience. United Media is a fully-integrated, worldwide licensing and syndication company that focuses on building brand equity around a wide range of creative content through its two syndicates: United Feature Syndicate (UFS) and Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), and licensing, United Media Licensing (UML). United Media is an E.W. Scripps Company.
About Plumb Design
New York based Plumb Design, Inc., the developer of Thinkmap, collaborates with its clients to produce online experiences that facilitate the exchange of knowledge and the interplay of ideas. The Company specializes in the design and development of next generation interfaces. Clients include Feed Magazine, Motorola Museum, The National Geographic Society, The Smithsonian Institution, and Sony Music. More information about Plumb Design can be found on the Internet at
Thinkmap. Visualize Complex Information.