We remember growing up in the Cayman Islands when it was sometimes difficult to keep abreast of stories in comics because the latest ones would show up at random times in the supermarkets. We loved the Hulk and the X-Men, but following their escapades beyond the odd issue or two was tough.
It was, in fact, only when we got older that we realized these things were in sequence for a reason, but that hadn’t changed the fact that when we were younger we’d wanted to be Storm (after all, we had similar hair), so no matter.
We’re now happy (embarrassed) to admit that we still love comics and the films portraying their characters, and we have a few graphic novels in our library. Comics by comiXology is a great, free app for anyone who appreciates the art of comics and is always interested to see what’s new on the market.
How it works
Well, you download it, you have to set up an account, and then you’re on your own to figure out how it works. It won’t take you long to come to grips with the app. You have your library of comics that you’ve purchased, you can purchase more (holy cow, are some of those sets expensive!), or you can just take advantage of the free comics that the app offers each week. No, there won’t be loads of really familiar stuff on there, but this might just be the way you learn about new talent.
Once you choose the drop down “More” menu on the upper left-hand corner, you’re going to find lots of options, including the “New to comiXology” link that … shows you how to use the app! It’s like a prize for finding it.
You’ll also see links to Graphic Novels, Digital Firsts, and children’s comics, among others.
Along the bottom of the screen is a slew of other information. You can search for specific comics, characters or creators, and look through different genres and series. Basically, you have at your disposal a huge library through which you can scroll and find everything from the mainstream to the independent and underground. Of course, there are loads of comics available from big names Marvel and DC, but you’ll also find offerings from smaller companies as well. It’s a cornucopia of comics!
When we tried it
We instantly did a search to see if we could find one of our favorite creators, Neil Gaiman. Sure enough, he was there with his Sandman graphic novels and other works. Hot dog! There were also some Hellboy comics (why oh why can’t we get a Hellboy III film out of Guillermo del Toro?) and stuff by Todd McFarlane.
We did take a look through the freebies – some interesting choices, and actually bought a couple of items. This may be the beginning of the end, and we’ll end up spending all of our pocket money on comics, like only kids under the age of 14 do, but better that the money goes there than for extra moves on Candy Crush (we swear that app is more addictive than the candy it represents).
We tried reading the comics with our iPad in landscape mode, but as our eyes watered we went with portrait, which increased the size of the art and the text. We also played around with the transition settings and other options designed to help you customize your viewing experience.
Beyond your superhero stories, there are My Little Pony escapades for the younger generation, or you can catch up with Archie, Reggie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead and the gang if you’re young at heart. That Jughead … he’s a caution.
We figured that although we wouldn’t be on this app morning, noon and night, it was a good one to have on our iPad for those times we were stuck in an airport or on a plane. We decided to keep it.
A number of comic collectors may not be enamored with this app because they’re purists and they like the feel of a comic in their hands. Then, of course, there is the value aspect. If Nicholas Cage had tried to sell his Action Comics No. 1 from his iPad, chances are good he wouldn’t have earned the $2.1 million he did with the hard copy.
That being said, this is a great way to have a terrific selection of comics at your fingertips without having to cart them around, and as any collector knows, an untouched comic in a plastic sheath is much more valuable than one that’s been manhandled. Keep the collection in your basement, and read them using the Comics app.
Pros: Free app. Some free comics. Easy access to a huge library of comics. Lots of viewing options.
Cons: Will test your eyesight on the iPhone. Explaining to your spouse how you blew the mortgage payment on digital comics.
Cost: Free (in-app purchases additional)
Devices: Android and iOS
Rating: M for Mature (17+) due to content of some comics