Nobrow iPad app (Nobrow Press)

Nobrow app iconNobrow aren’t a name you might instantly associate with digital comics as this small scale UK-based  publisher specialise in boutique high quality *print* graphic novels and art comics. However this new Nobrow iPad app takes that high quality publishing model and brings it to a new digital audience translating some of their amazing titles into sumptuous looking digital comics. But can Nobrow maintain their tradition of high quality art comics in this disposable digital world?

Nobrow app

Publisher: Nobrow
Compatible with: iPad
Price: Free to download, £2.29 per issue

Rather than rely on a high volume of titles, Nobrow have made their name by producing comic books and illustrated stories with limited print runs that are produced to the highest possible quality – which includes hand-printing some books to maintain their impeccable standards – and this is something which they continue with the Nobrow iPad app.

Unlike the major comics apps (ComiXology, ComicsPlus etc.) who rely on a wide variety of titles to gain an audience, Nobrow’s stories are unique to this app and are presented as being something very special indeed. At launch there is a choice of just 7 titles, with Luke Pearson’s delightfully charming Hildafolk (think Heidi directed by Spirited Away‘s Miyao Miyazaki) and Ben Newman’s twisted Ouroboros (Ren and Stimpy re-imagined by Saul Bass) the stand-outs.

Hildafolk, along with Jon McNaught’s bleakly geometric Birchfield Close, Mikkel Sommer’s Obsolete and a collection of Luke Pearson’s other works are available for free so you can get an idea of the kind of the high quality stories that Nobrow are offering without breaking the bank. While the other books on offer are £2.29, which is an absolute bargain for such stunningly original books. With many more incredibly high quality titles in their back catalogue we hope this will be the start of a steady stream and opportunity for a whole new audience to appreciate them in all their glory.

Although content is vital for a good digital comics app, it is not always the most important factor – just look at the frustratingly limited ComiXology Comics app! As you would expect from a company for whom quality is paramount, the Nobrow iPad app looks stunning, with a beautifully designed series of geometric icons bordering the home screen. The app launches into a simple storefront with a gallery of featured titles along the top and other available titles in a carousel along the bottom. More information about each title can be found by tapping the big C button in the top left corner and there’s also a funky looking analog clock which is all very hipster. Although it looks amazing, the interface can feel a bit fussy at first, as you get used to what these beautifully designed icons all mean.  However it is simple and stylish enough that you forgive any unfamiliarity.

Once downloaded, stories can be read in a standard page by page mode or the familiar panel by panel mode we are used to in apps like Comics. As well as these standard options, Nobrow also offers a great USP where readers can view pages in multiple states – from the early pencil sketches through rough pencils, to uncoloured inks and then final coloured pages. (Although this varies depending on the book in question). For process junkies this feature is a dream come true and something we would love to see transferred over into the mainstream.

With Nobrow’s emphasis on more artistic and illustration driven titles this is a fantastic feature as even the rough sketches are still works of art and reminds you of the attention to detail that every title receives for it to be published by Nobrow. We can’t imagine there are many publishers who pay this kind of attention to their comics and that’s why this app and it’s contents really are a thing of beauty.

“Although it may lack a wide variety of familiar titles, the quality of Nobrow titles is second to none. Their series are given the same boutique treatment in digital as they are in print, and are presented in a sumptuous and reverential manner that really makes them shine. The added bonus of seeing the book in it’s various states augments the reading experience like few others can and as such the Nobrow iPad app might just be our new favourite digital comics app.”