This week sees the launch of the first digital edition of the weekly UK comic The Phoenix launched via Apple Newsstand with an app powered by the team at Panel Nine, this is a bold new step for the company, but one that helps The Phoenix find its natural home in the 21st century – on the iPads of the nation’s kids. If like me you’re a child of the 80s then reading The Phoenix gives you a delightful trip down memory lane as it feels very much like a natural successor to classic British kids comics like the Beano and the Dandy. This is in no part thanks to it’s anarchic sense of humour, and unpatronising tone, combined with a 21st century update and so it creates a brilliant blend of quirky comic strips with potentially strong characters that help keep it looking current and relevant and should keep kids and parents alike amused.The particular highlights of this first issue for us were the anarchic pop visuals of Bunny vs Monkey from Jamie Smart, the intelligent and beautifully realised sci fi of Paul Duffield’s Starborn and the macabre but very informative Corpse Talk from Adam Murphy, which both educated and freaked us out in equal measure! There’s also an awesome pirate ship cross section from Chris Liddell, the action packed adventures of Crogg and Sprocket by Jamie Littler as well as loads others. Along with a whole cast of other writers and artists who we’ve not even seen in this sample, The Phoenix has put together a great roster of talent. With this sample issue featuring 9 very different stories you’re sure to find one you like – plus they are all starting afresh so there is no catching up needed if this is your first read of the title.
The comic is further augmented by some smart trickery from Panel Nine, including a ‘Something Cool’ button in the interface which illuminates when there is extra content on a page. Tapping reveals an extra page, but in the world of interactive books and magazine, this feels a tad flat and could leave the reader wanting just that little bit more interactivity. The same is true for some of the more analogue pages (like the fill in the speech bubbles DIY comic) that will work brilliantly in print, but lacks something in digital form.
With a brilliant introductory subs offer of just £9.99 for 26 weeks, The Phoenix team are aiming to get people hooked and keep them hooked, and based on this free to download sampler they have certainly done enough in our eyes as we can’t wait for the next issue!