Apps to Buy Comics
Although reading comic books on the iPad is a wonderful experience, buying them is not. It can be confusing to navigate the many different apps that seemingly sell almost the same titles when all you want is to read a specific issue. The big problem with digital comics is that there is no single format, which means that you must buy the comic book you want in the app you want to read it in. In this AppList we break down the apps you need to read what you want when you want.
Comics is the official app of Comixology, the company that pioneered “guided view” technology that makes it easier to read comics by actively guiding the reader through the panels. Comixology has deals with most of the major comics publishers to sell their content in this app, and it also licenses the technology for publishers to use in their own apps. Thus, in most cases it is unnecessary to download apps “powered by Comixology” (e.g., DC Comics, Boom Studios, Top Shelf, Arcana, Image) as the content is available in this app. If you do choose to use more than one Comixology app, content purchased in any Comixology app is available in Comics if you sign in with the account used to purchase it. Comics provides the most new issues of the top publishers and has the best reading experience of any of the apps tested.
Comics+ is “powered by iVerse” technology and functions similarly to Comixology, with licensed apps for publishers (e.g., Archie and IDW) and issues available in the official app. Although Comics+ offers a larger total number of publishers, it lacks a deal with DC Comics and has fewer Marvel Comics. More importantly, the viewing experience is not as polished as Comixology’s and it does not appear to allow you to transfer purchases among apps.
Graphicly Comics is not as easy to navigate as Comics or Comics+ and it focuses more on older titles, collections, and small press than the other digital comics giants. Graphic.Ly's app is in many ways the most versatile digital comics shop, as comics can be purchased and read in the app, on the website (where they cost less), in a desktop app (which allows downloading and storing your comics), and on Facebook. There is also more of a social component, with the ability to converse with others on the website and share favorite panels. Graphic.Ly also sells several titles as subscriptions through Apple's Newsstand app that allows for automatic downloading of each issue.
Marvel Comics offers the largest selection of their own titles in their official app, including titles that are unavailable in other apps. In addition, the app boasts exclusive free comics and bi-weekly sales, making it a must-have for Marvel fans.
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse Comics is the only major company to create its own digital comic book platform and not just license technology from another company. Therefore, its books are only available in its own app. Although the app has a tendency to be slow and buggy, it’s essential if you want to read Star Wars, Buffy, Mass Effect, or any other Dark Horse title.
Ave!Comics focuses on an international comic book audience and offers content from few of the mainstream American publishers (save Devil Due Publishing and Top Cow). The app boasts low prices, the ability to read purchases on the web and any iOS or android device, and multiple language options. This is the destination for anyone desiring to read European comics.
Cloud 9 Comix
Cloud9Comix is a relatively new app from an Australian company that focuses on the independent comic book scene. It is more internationally-focused, has several language options, and is actively looking to partner with creators to sell their content in the app.
Several companies have released graphic novels in Apple’s iBookstore. The convenience of using iBooks must be weighed against the enhanced viewing of comics offered in most of the apps listed above.