When I was younger, my whole family was big into comic books. We’d buy all sorts of titles. Although we didn’t think about it much back then, today we recognize the work and effort and artistry that goes into comics. The problem is, however, comic books have not translated well into electronic formats. ebooks, in general, have had a difficult time making the transition (mostly due to the policy decisions of publishing houses, i think), but comics have an extra hurdle – the graphics. Not only are they bigger, but you have difficulty deciding how to handle viewing them. If you view the whole page (like in a splash page) you risk losing the detail. If you zoom in for the detail, you may lost the unique flow of the page. In many ways its significantly more complicated than viewing a text-based ebook.
Comics, by Comixology, is trying something a little different, something they call “Guided View” to help make comic viewing practical. Read on to see how it works.
It seems that “Guided View”, at it’s simplest, is a mask or overlay system. The underlying page is left alone. As you click on the screen, you move forward, the “guided View” then smoothly follows the overlay – panning and zooming in on specific parts of the page so you also get the feel or flow of the page. Its really very cool.
But you aren’t stuck with the Guided View. If you want, you can also use the standard iPhone multi-touch pinch controls to view the whole page or zoom as you normally would. It’s really very flexible.
Of course, this whole scheme won’t work unless there are comics published in this format with the overlay. Although the current title selection is small (over 100 according to Comixology), it seems to be growing quickly. They currently list titles from about 15 different publishers as well as numerous independents. There are also about 30 free titles as well. If this list keeps growing, I would expect to see more people taking a look.
The store itself is easy to get around and use. Clicking on a title brings up more details including a button to view a preview of the book.
In addition, the application lets you learn about obtaining the comic in a printed format or even helping you locate a comic book reseller.
What I liked: I really like the approach they have to viewing the comic. It’s nicely implemented, adaptable, and completely functional and unobtrusive.
What Could be Improved: The library size needs to be expanded greatly.
Overall: The program is excellent, the implementation is excellent and has the potential to become a standard for comic book electronic publication, but the library needs to grow. Also in question will be the ability to compete against others like Darkhorse also publishing their titles independently in this same space.
That said, at only $0.99 at the ITMS AppStore you really should consider taking a look at this application if you are into comic books. Take a look at some of the free titles available. You’ll be surprised at how ticely it all works and feels! By the way, as a special note, be careful not to confuse this title with another program (costing $1.99) from them called Comixology which keeps you up-to-date on new comics arriving at your local comic book store.