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The Art of Designing Everything
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Blog . Comic readers: an investigative report
Artists love comics. We do, they combine the best of our inherent love of words, images, and dramatic storytelling. Some people love the writing, others love the art, still others love the culture that comics surround themselves with. In this review I will look at some of the available comic readers for the iPad, so everyone can get a little nerdier, and a little more inspired. Whether you're a sculptor. illustrator, filmmaker or cake baker, chances are you might like comic books. Comics give escape from reality to those who need it, inspiration to the writer and the artist, and cage liners to exotic bird owners. However, this last group might feel left out with these comic readers for iPad (as bird droppings are probably pretty hard to get out of your charging slot). In no particular order I will review three comic apps and one generic "e-reader" on their layout, ease of use, searchability, and general usefulness for your average comic aficionado. Starting with: Graphicly [caption id="attachment_804" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Austere design is not always the best when dealing with the Astonishing X-Men"][/caption] Graphicly is one to watch, because it is still very young. However, right now it is of practically no use to anyone, because unless you know exactly what it is you're searching for, it is unlikely you'll ever find it. Great big banners advertise new gains from Marvel, DC, and other big name comic publishers, but hidden under the surface are lots of self-published artists using Graphicly to try to get their work out into the world. It's free to sign up for an account on their website, and submit a sample to them. They may even chose it for web publishing through Graphicly.com and their apps, but good luck finding the thriving community of independent comic publishers on this clumsily designed app. Comics+ [caption id="attachment_805" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="better layout, and the scrolling banners are a nice touch."][/caption] Comics+ was a step up in navigation experience from Graphicly. it was easier to browse by publisher or genre and find the series you were searching for. There is also a greater selection of free comics (Although the going trend is, issue #0 or #1 is the free one, just to get you hooked) but all the same, it's a rather nice selection. The reader itself works smoothly and looks beautiful, with a quick tap on either side to turn the page, or a swipe across the middle. A built in newsfeed gives Comics+ users updates on their app, but really, who reads those anyway. A good solid comic store and decent reader for anyone who enjoys those things. Comics [caption id="attachment_806" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="It's like they know how much I love black on black, and they made an app for me!"][/caption] As far as comic readers that won't allow self-uploaded content go, this one is so far my personal favorite. The searchability is superb, allowing a sort of free form browsing once unique to wikipedia. Did you like Transmetropolitan? Look up Warren Ellis in the creator category, and find out what else he's done. The reader itself also excels at its purpose, allowing a good amount of zoom, and the isolation of individual panels by double tapping on the one you want (for further scrutiny of the artwork or text). Page navigation is also an option unique to Comics, allowing you to go back or forward within the comic, without "flipping through". This one does get my top honors in the paid category, However, I'm fairly poor, as I'm sure most of you are as well. Given the chance and a credit card I could put myself in the red on comic books alone. So to combat that situation, I've downloaded this: Bookman Lite [caption id="attachment_807" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="It's waiting to be filled!"][/caption] Bookman Lite is free (the small ads at the bottom are what make it free. there is a paid version where the ads have all mysteriously vanished). It is also almost entirely dependent on your effort to make it work. The ease of use of purchase gets replaced by a tangle of apple loopholes through which you must jump to get your content on their device. Bookman reads PDF's, as well as comic archive formats such as CBR,CBZ,RAR, and ZIP, and they have to be placed on your iPad in much the same way as music, through Itunes. However, once your content is uploaded, the reader acts in much the same way as the Comics reader, with zoom, page view, and the added bonus of table of contents navigation, for those long books or graphic novels with chapters. The layout is obviously, much the same as the built in iBooks layout, with collections replaced by sub-bookshelves, to separate comics from normal books, and genres within each bookshelf. Altogether, the iPad is the best thing to read comics on since paper, and how you go about it is entirely up to you, whether you're supporting the indie artist or the big name publisher there's always something for you out there.