While I’ve always been a fan of comics, I didn’t read many on a weekly basis until quite recently. That’s mostly because the nearest comic book store was half an hour’s drive away and they rarely had what I wanted. So I’d wait until they released them in paperback form, getting a new storyline every six months or so. Then, about a year ago, I bought my first iPad and thought I’d join the digital age.
I had already tried reading comics on my iPhone before but found it a bit tiresome on the small screen. I downloaded the Marvel, DC and Dark Horse apps due to my love of X-men, Batman and Buffy respectively, deciding to try a few issues out.
All the apps perfectly recreate the effect of reading a comic, allowing you to read at your own leisure and zoom in and out at will. Out of the three, my favourite from the start was the Marvel app and that is still true to this day. It is the easiest to navigate, broken up into handy sections which allow you to look up the most popular series, creators and storylines. The Marvel app has inspired me to read more comics, especially in light of the Marvel NOW! event. I generally read at least one Marvel comic a week now, covering Avengers, X-men, Spider-man and the big events like the recent Age of Ultron. Each comic is neatly sorted into its own folder in the ‘My Comics’ section, making it easy to find each comic in your digital collection.
Marvel have recently launched Marvel Unlimited as an app, it having existed as a web page for a while now. Similar to services like LoveFilm, you pay a monthly fee of $10 or an annual fee of $59.88, and you can read as many comics as you want. Comics aren’t available straight away however; usually the comics are about six months old. But obviously if you can wait it could save you some serious money. I haven’t tried the service out myself but it does sound like a good idea.
The DC app is quite similar with the same sections. I believe it was designed by the same company in fact, but seems to be much slower to load. While the Marvel app expanded my reading, I haven’t found this to be the case with DC. The only DC comic I read on a regular basis was Batman, and after I decided to boycott the creator a few weeks ago due to the Scott Card controversy, I haven’t gone back.
Dark Horse used my least favourite of the apps, but I find myself forced to use it due to my desire to read the latest Buffy comics. Whereas Marvel and DC sort your comics into folders, all the comics were just loose in your collection. With a lot of comics, this could be a serious hassle! The app was also prone to constant glitches, crashing on opening and not loading the latest issues. The app has recently undergone a massive update which has fixed these issues and brought it more in-line with the Marvel and DC apps. It also separates your collection from the store entirely, allowing for easier navigation.
There are quite a few benefits to going digital. I find comics at least 50p cheaper on the app than in my local store, allowing me to read more. The Marvel Unlimited app could in theory allow you to read as many comics as you wish, internet permitting. Let’s face it, comics take up a lot of space. If you own too many, eventually you just end up needing a library to hold them all. Depending on the size of your device you can hold hundreds of comics, with an unlimited amount in the cloud. So why not just go digital?