The Beano and the The Dandy are treasured memories of my childhood. I loved those comic books. To the best of my knowledge they were only widely available in the UK and Ireland and still are. Ask any British male, between the ages of ten and eighty years old what the first comic they ever read was, and I can guarantee it was either a Beano or a Dandy.
When I was thirteen or so, a friend introduced me to a comic book store named Forbidden Planet. I must have spend every spare cent I had in that shop over the next few years. We’d sift through hundreds of back issues, crammed into long boxes all carefully preserved in their protective plastic sleeves. Hours upon hours were spent flipping through graphic novels, buying back issues and admiring the various artwork on display.
I still occasionally drop into Forbidden Planet. But, if my memory serves me right, I was around sixteen when life, school, work and the opposite sex put comic books at the back of the shelf. I never lost my love of comics though. Web comics are a particular indulgence of mine due to their plentiful supply and high procrastination value. Having them on your phone can only be a good thing, right? With that in mind, here’s a few of my favorite Android comic book applications.
For those of you who may not know, Rage Comics (otherwise known as ‘FFFUUUUU comics’) are badly drawn stick men about silly everyday situations that use the same ‘cut and paste’ facial expressions in every strip. There made by fans of the comic with little or no central publishing which has attributed to its viral success. They live mostly on Internet forums and blogs.
Rage Reader harvests these comics and download them straight to your phone. Because people are encouraged to make their own, a proportion of them will be pretty bad. Rage Reader does, however, have a voting system built in which keeps the pick of the litter on the homescreen for you.
Readability is okay. I stress that these comics are mostly conjured up using MS Paint so at times, you can come across on that has been re-sized poorly. For the most part, Rage Reader handles them just fine with zoom being only a pinch away. A must for fans of Rage comics.
Vintage Comic Droid
Although it’d be hard to tell from afar, there is (or at least was) more to the world of comics than Marvel and DC. Today’s domain pretty much consists of the battle between the two publishers whilst the rest squabble over what’s left of the audience. Pre-1960, comics were very different. Superheroes were rare. Tales of WW2 marines fighting Nazis, football match victories and fairy tales such as Robin Hood were popular.
Vintage Comic Droid has gathered thousands of free public domain titles from this era and made them available on your Android phone. The first thing that strikes you about this application is the design; it’s simply amazing. The fonts are taken right out of a comic book speech bubble, your library is organised into visually pleasing comic book boxes, and all the imagery looks fantastic.
The comic book reader can be a little slow to respond at times but that’s more than made up for by the high resolution scans of each comic. The major drawback with this application is that, because the comic books are of such a high quality, they take aeons to download. I’m not talking ten or fifteen minutes either; more like an hour or two over a strong WiFi connection. It’s best to select a few titles that catch your eye and then leave them downloading in the background whilst you go about your business.
Overall it’s a very cool application for anyone interested in classic titles.
This one doesn’t allow you to actually read comics at all. Why have I included it in the list then? Simple. Because many of us, particularly when reading big titles that we fork out cash for, want a paper copy either for readability or a collection. Perhaps both. So never miss a new issue or special edition again with Fresh Comics.
Its main feature is to update you on that weeks releases from all the major publishing houses such as DC, Marvel, DMP, Bongo, Archie and many, many more. Each update has a picture of the cover of the issue along with a sypnosis.
If that wasn’t enough, the ‘Shops’ tabs gives you a list of local comic book stores where you can pick up the latest new issues.
The name says it all really. In my opinion, for your average comic book buff, this is the best application on the Android Market at the minute. While the others are all really good, they have their limitations, flaws and only serve limited purposes. Comics on the other hand is like having your local comic book store right there in your pocket. Every major comic ready to be purchased at the click of a button.
All you need is the application and an account which you can register for there and then.
This app has been designed to perfection. Everything looks great and is clean cut. All the images load quickly too. The actual reader itself is amazing. You can browse via single panes to make sure your getting all the action or zoom out to page level to take in those bigger drawings.
While the application is focused on making money via sales you don’t have to begin buying right away to get a feel for this application’s power and ease of use. Most big series have their first issue as free so you can try them out. And there’s plenty of graphic novel previews to sample as well. So if mainstream comic books are more your thing I definitely recommend Comics for Android.