If you’re new to the world of digital comics then you’re probably asking yourself what’s the best app for reading comics on? Well, if you’ve not read my article in Tap! I thought I ought to do a quick round-up of what I regard as the best apps for getting the most out of your comics on the iPad.
1. ComiXology Comics
(Includes Marvel, DC, Image, Boom Studios and many more)
When it comes to comics on the iPad, ComiXology’s Comics is the all-conquering code which powers the apps of the big studios like Marvel, DC and Image. It’s also in the background on title specific apps like Green Lantern or Walking Dead as well as some indie companties like Boom! Studios. A pioneer of the digital comics world since 2007, Comics offers a familiar store front and browser that anyone used to using apps like iTunes will be able to use instinctively. With it’s ‘cover-flow’ style browser you can flip through comic covers at a glance and purchase them either by issue or series. You can search for titles by writer, artist or publisher and as with iTunes there are often promoted and featured titles with reduced prices. You can also browse the latest titles available for free and check out titles which you might never have thought to try before. Comics can be downloaded with a simple tap to be stored on your iPad and with so many big companies signed up to the ComiXology way of doing things, it allows your comics to be in multiple apps simultaneously (For example, once downloaded Walking Dead #1 will be in both the Walking Dead app as well as Comics and the Image app). It also means that the quality of content is second to none with titles from all the big publishers available with an increasing number being released the same day as print release.
2. Comics+ by iVerse
(Including IDW Publishing, Ape Entertainment and Sony Playstation Digital Comics)
If Comics is the all-conquering superhero, then Comics+ is the angsty anti-hero. With a similar store front structure to Comics, Comics + is the home to more gritty adult titles such as Mark Millar’s Kick Ass and Ed Brubaker’s brilliant Criminal series courtesy of Marvel’s creator owned Icon imprint. There’s also the Top Cow titles from Image such as Witchblade as well as IDW’s collection of TV tie-ins like Star Trek and True Blood and their Transformers line of comics (which also have their own app powered by iVerse). There’s also great indie titles like Atomic Robo or Garth Ennis’s The Boys alongside more kiddy friendly titles like Sonic the Hedgehog and Archie Comics. Ultimately the quality of the app is dependent on the quality of the content, and Comics+ offers some great titles from big name creators which aren’t fighting for space with the big superhero books from the big two. Although it may lack some of the big name titles, it does benefit from an higher percentage of same day releases and is a great way to discover under-appreciated gems from smaller companies that you might never have tried otherwise.
3. Dark Horse
The home to Hellboy, Sin City and the Goon jumped on the iPad comics bandwagon early by releasing PDF versions of popular titles as individual apps. However this year they released their own bespoke app rather than rely on the services of ComiXology or iVerse. Offering the same basic structure of collection and store front for downloading titles it also includes a section called ‘Collection’ which allows you to synch existing Dark Horse digital content onto you iPad (a service Marvel and DC have yet to offer with their digital subscription service. Because it is publisher specific, another neat touch Dark Horse’s app can offer is a notification function for new titles in the store which appears similar to the read blob seen on the iPad’s Mail app for unread emails) and you can also buy bundles of titles, like trade paperbacks. Although slightly buggy at times, the reading process on the app is really smooth and even offers you the option of an in-app purchase of the next issue once you have finished reading your latest title. With Dark Horse unveiling new titles every month it is quickly living up to it’s namesake and becoming a really under-rated app with some excellent content available on it.
If you’re still getting digital comics as PDF downloads or .CBR files then you need a really good eBook reader like Stanza to read your books in. With publishers like 2000AD not yet embracing the world of iPad apps just yet, then you might still need an app like this – especially for your older titles. Stanza was one of the first, and remains one of the best, eBook reader out there and is perfect for reading your web comics on.
5. CLZ Comics HD
While the majority of the apps on here are about purchasing and downloading new titles, what about your existing comics collection? The various CLZ apps, initially available via the collectorz.com wesbite, but also working on iPad and iPhone allow you to track and run a database of your comics. Simply input your collection, download cover art and then share your collection online. A great way to keep track of your collection via your iPad, but time consuming to set up in the first place and costs to set up the software in the first place.