Webcomics on your smartphones

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Marketingland estimates that, this year, over 128 million Americans have smartphones, meaning that 50% of Americans with cellular phones are going for the ones that are basically mini-computers. This should be a surprise to absolutely no one.

So, with eyeballs connecting to ever smaller screens, do webcomic apps make sense? Typing “webcomic” in the Apple app store reveals that there are at least 51 webcomic related apps, four of which are about xkcd.

Are any of them worth your time? Or are you better off just clicking on Safari and hitting the bookmark to the website instead? The Webomic Overlook takes a shot at several free webcomic apps available.

WARNING! The Webcomic Overlook is not responsible for the loathesomeness level of the actual content in the webcomic itself. This will make sense when you get to Number 3.

1.) Kawaii Not

With Kawaii Not, you don’t have to fret about either decision because it actually is just a link. When you go to the site, you’re prompted to “Add to Home Screen.” Do that, and you get a cute little app-like linke with a rainbow and a smiling cloud. I checked out Meghan Murphy’s comic, by the way, because it’s pretty much the ideal webcomic to view on the iPhone: it’s light on the words, and it’s arranged vertically so you scroll down like God Steve Jobs intended. It’s simple, and I wish more webcomics would do this.

Analysis: Worth it (though kinda cheating ‘cuz it’s not an app)


2.) Little Gamers

For all I know, this app might be worth it. Its splash screen is well designed. But, beyond that, I have no idea because it crashes. I even rebooted my iPhone, which has 3.5 GB free, and still the same problem. Now I am suddenly stricken with a fear that the Little Gamers app has forwarded my Paypal information to human traffickers in Nigeria. Fear for El Santo.

Analysis: Drop it

3.) Least I Could Do

I think I mentioned it in the review (maybe not), but this is one of the best designed webcomic apps around. You can “lock” the screen, so when you swipe, it goes directly to the next panel. There are some … let’s say, creative Easter eggs, like when you swipe upwards on Rayne on the main screen, he clothes come off. Whoosh. The menu is actually attractive an easily navigable. Downside (relatively speaking) is that the free version only lets you see the current comic. But fear not! Thanks to the magic of micro-payments, you get access to the entire archives for the low, low price of $0.99. Who doesn’t want more Rayne for $0.99?!?!?!

Analysis: Worth it

4.) Webcomix

The relationship between webcomic creators and RSS reader app developers has been a frigid one. Webcomic creators want you to go to their site. How else are they going to make money from the ad space they’re selling? Meanwhile, the RSS reader app guys want a usable site that looks good on a smartphone. I don’t know what sort of arrangement the Webcomix app guys came to, but their solution is to provide a list of webcomics, and if you want to read them, it redirects you to their site. So this is basically an app that’s a bookmark bar. I suppose it tells you when there’s a new comic available, but that’s only useful if you’re following one of the 31 webcomics provided on the “Favourites” list. I’ll stick to my browser bookmarks.

Analysis: Drop it

5.) xkcd

As I mentioned, there are at least four apps devoted solely to xkcd. I’m guessing none are official. The one developed by Craig Belpedio is actually the most downloaded one, but it’s 73 MB large, which means I can’t get the app until I’m in wireless range. Nuts to that. Instead, I downloaded the Josh Snyder version, which is fine (and has more stars). It’s as barebones as an app can get: a list of strips, the iPhone’s internal menu to message, tweet, mail, or save to camera roll, and up and down buttons. But the stripped-down look kinda works for xkcd’s stick figure aesthetic.

Analysis: Kinda worth it

6.) Ctrl + Alt + Del

Surprisingly, CAD 2.0’s art works really well with the app. You click on the comic, and it fills the entire screen rather nicely, like it’s some Comixology page. Unlike Comixology, though, you can’t zoom in as far as I can tell. Which is sort of a problem when you’ve got massive word balloons (not an infrequent occurence in CAD) or the “approaching infinite canvas” layouts at the end of CAD 1.0. Meanwhile, there’s no easy way to access the archives (other than flipping back page after page after page), the “bookmark” button requires some sort of login, and the entire app sorta dies after you leave it on too long. Much like CAD 1.0. Eh? Eehhhhhhhhhh?!?!??!!?

Analysis: Kinda drop it

7.) Shlock Mercenary

This is probably the second best webcomic app next to LICD. The archives are easily the most navigable ones I’ve seen: there are 13 books, each divided into chapters, and each divided into the date published. You don’t have to log in to place a bookmark (which include an option to name your bookmark). The reader doesn’t have a lock feature like LICD. However, unlike LICD, you don’t have to pay extra to read the archives.

Analysis: Worth it

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8.) Yellow Peril

I had never heard of Yellow Peril before, but it’s written by Jamie Noguchi of Erfworld fame. Anyway, the comics under the “Latest” button all crash every time I try to pull them up. I have better luck with the Archives. There’s a nice button called “Text” that lets you scroll up some of the accompanying blog posts and a Cast of Characters page. Beyond that, though, the crashing “Latest” button is pretty inexcusable. I have a feeling this app hasn’t been updated in a while, though. The last comment on the app was registered 321 days ago. Oh, to be around during the golden days of webcomic apps.

Analysis: Kinda drop it

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About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on November 29, 2012, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Love the article, anyway my favorite webcomic App belongs to nemu nemu webcomic

  2. “and it’s arranged vertically so you scroll down like God Scott McCloud intended.”

    FTFY. If it were arranged like Steve Jobs would like, it would have the exact right dimensions for the iPhone.

    The real breakthrough will be comics developed specifically for smartphones and tablets. I may have mentioned this before, but I think Homestuck could be perfect for an app, especially with the use of Flash making it useless for the browsers in iOS or Windows RT.

  1. Pingback: Top Digital Comics News – December 6th, 2012 | Good E-Reader - ebook Reader and Digital Publishing News

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