Of course, to get the stupid app to work I had to have a wireless internet connection. And those do not exist in Japan. For as crazy future robotic as Japan is known for being, it’s silly that I can’t find an internet hotspot to save my life. I ended up waiting until I went home during summer vacation and then I downloaded a bunch of free comics to be enjoyed at a later date. And that date ended up being MUCH later than I thought it would be.
The past few weekends we had some long car trips and I was in a comic reading mood. I didn’t want to haul a stack of comics in the car. Also the trips were mostly at night where I wouldn’t have much light to read by. I grabbed my iPod and threw it in the car with my DS. After my fiancé and I decided to listen to music on his iPod I was fiddling with mine and remembered that I had comics there. And now that I’ve given an entirely too long back story about how I ended up reading comics on my iPod I’ll get to the meat of the matter.
I really like the portability of having comics on my iPod. I was able to read a bunch of comics on the go without having to drag anything else along. I like that I can easily preview some series that I would not otherwise bother to look at because I can download them easily onto my iPod and read them when I feel like it. I like that I can whip my iPod out at any point in a conversation and say, “You haven’t read The Walking Dead? Well I have the first issue right here.”
|See, I have it right here.|
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the device, when you read comics on the iPod the comics come programmed in a set way to help you view them on your small screen. You don’t look at the whole page at once (although I wish that there was an option to be able to do so, since things like panel lay out are interesting to me). You read one panel at a time and swipe the screen to advance to the next panel. You can adjust your iPod at any time to be viewed horizontally or vertically so the panels fit the screen better. When you have large splash pages the app usually starts you in on a close up of the word boxes and then after the swipe it will zoom out so that you can take in the full picture.
All in all it isn’t a bad system. I actually think that it holds the suspense a little better than reading a printed comic. For example, I was reading the first issue of Chew (which I was amazingly impressed by) and there was a panel that was super shocking and came out of nowhere. I think if I had been reading the book itself my eye might have been draw to it too soon and the effect would not have been as shocking. But since I can’t easily look ahead my eyes don’t wander. However, in the same comics was a huge two page spread that I could not zoom in on at all. I was really frustrated because there was a lot of detail to that page that I was missing. I feel that the impact of that page was lost to me. (I’ve heard people mention before about how the two page spread may very well be an early casualty of the rise of digital comics since you just can’t appreciate them the same way, even on an iPad.)
This format works great for some comics, like the strip formatted Night Owls and ones with very traditional panel structures. Artists who took more liberty with layout felt a bit more forced on my little screen. There were a few comics that, while reading, I was clearly aware that I was reading something that was not intended to be read in this format. They still found a way to make it readable, but sometimes it was a clunky experience.
All in all, I’m very pleased with the app and hope to be able to download more comics in the future. I’m still not really on board with paying for pixels, but I’m happy to sample free comics and glad to share some of my favorites with others. I do recommend trying it out if you have an iPod touch or an iPhone and haven’t already. The app is free after all, and there are enough free comics to make it worth the download.
Also, I'll probably be reviewing some of the things I'm reading from the free downloads, so keep an eye out for that. If you download it and have any thoughts on the app or the comics you read please share in the comments!