Bitstrips founder visits San Francisco


A few weeks ago, I took a gamble. Writing a story about an app I'd never heard of called "Bitstrips." Well, the story was a home run and so was the app. Now with 30 million users, Bitstrips are officially a thing and the guy who created them finally came up for air to give me that long-awaited interview.

"I've been making comics and cartoons since I was a little kid and it was always one of my favorite things to do with my friends," said Jacob "Ba" Blackstock, the Bitstrips CEO and creative director.

Unofficially, just about everyone calls him "Ba." He told us, "It's what my friends have been calling me since I was about 6 years old."

In a new corporate blog done comic book style, He greets his users and introduces the new holiday comics. You can plug yourself in right next to Frosty The Snowman. They make new cartoons every day.

"We have a pretty small team. We actually have like a little writers room that's led by me and some of the other co-founders," said Blackstock.

Remember the writers' room from "Dick Van Dyke?" Well, we got to see the writers' room for Bitstrips -- complete with comfy couches, in a video they sent us from their headquarters in Toronto.

"And we just sit and write the comics. We do it all in little stick figures at first -- so we just have a stack of index cards," said Blackstock.

Eventually, those index cards make it onto a giant wall and if they're lucky, taken down and transformed into the full-color cartoons you can add your own face to. That's the high tech part. Blackstock says a lot of work went into the avatar builder.

"And it wasn't just about making a likeness of you, but it was about bringing emotion into it and making it really dynamic and expressive," said Blackstock.

So expressive, it was used to animate a French political ad.

One politician announced her candidacy with Bitstrips. There was even a Bitstrips biography of Nelson Mandela. Blackstock says it's only natural.

"It actually goes back to like the beginning of human history. People have been communicating with images and symbols and it does say a lot more than text," said Blackstock.

And let's face it, writing isn't always easy.

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