iPad Comic Apps: What’s Available? UPDATED

The iPad will be delivered this Saturday April 4 to those who pre-ordered early enough.  Others will have to wait a little while longer.  Around comics circles, we've been hearing plenty about how this device might be a saving grace in a digital age, but suppose you unbox your shiny iPad Saturday, and want to read some comics, what options are actually out there? That's a little more tricky. 

The app process for the iPad has been shrouded in some mystery, and we're not really sure what will be available at launch.  It seems like iPhone/Touch apps will be able to run on the iPad, but those were developed for a much smaller screen, so it's unclear how well that will work.  There have been drips and drabs and leaks about what will be available, but not actually much about the comics end of things. 

There was the story about the iBookstore including a comic section a couple of weeks ago, but we don't really know how that will work or what it will look like, or even what will be available.

As far as specific apps, the frontrunner seems to be Panelfly's comic book reader. It was featured in PC World's roundup of iPad apps, and looks pretty slick, based on their iPhone reader app. 

What's available on Panelfly?  There are a bunch of smaller publishers like Slave Labor Graphics, NBM, and a selection of Marvel stories, so your interest may vary, but there is plenty of material, if you're willing to step away from the mainstream favorites. Additionally, they offer self publishers a way to get their stuff out to the public in a relatively easy way.

Another leader in the iPhone space is Comixology, who have this iPad concept video available, but haven't officially debuted their iPad app.


The video hasn't been updated in some time, but you can be sure that Comixology isn't going to want to give up that space without offering a contender, and with their existing content deals, they should be able to make a good run at it.

UPDATE: We've also gotten a chance to look at what iVerse has planned.  They say this app will be available at iPad launch, and it's a brand new app, built from scratch, but still compatible with their prior iPhone app.  The comics for this one will be much higher resolution to take advantage of the larger iPad screen, and will recreate the traditional comic book reading experience more than the iPhone version did.They've also added a zoom to the iPhone version, and the iPad app will have it as well.


There are other players, like LongBox Digital, and our parent company, Graphic.ly who will, no doubt, want to be involved with the iPad as  a platform for comics.  It's also very likely that other companies will pop up trying to take advantage of the increased real estate of the iPad, as opposed to the iPhone.  Some of the publishers may want to skip the middleman, and publish themselves though the iTunes store.  Honestly, how it will shake out remains to be seen, but a lot of energy and focus is going to center on the iPad in the coming months, and it all ultimately depends on the success of the device overall.

I'll be getting my iPad in the first shipment on Saturday, so I'll have a review of the device, in terms of reading comics soon thereafter, as well as some inevitable follow up, as I try to see how I bring the iPad into my comic reading routine, and how that experience stacks up.


  1. I can’t wait to see what’s available for the iPad wrt to comics.  I’m holding out hope that in the next year I can switch most of my regular pulls over to digital distribution on my iPad.

     and.. @josh hopefully you can get some sleep soon.. Maybe even by Saturday April 3. 

  2. Im really excited about the prospect of reading comics on the Ipad but until I hear more about the availability and pricing of comics, Im holding off. If content is available from most of the major publishers close to the day of release and is priced reasonably, $2 or lower, Im on board but if not I can wait a while. 

  3. I’m really hopeful of digital comics on the iPad.  If everything looks good I’ll definitely buy one. However, I want to wait until all of the kinks are ironed out of the iPad and more comic reader app become available.  Still, the digital age of comics is coming along and I can’t wait to have something viable to hold onto to read my comics digitally.

  4. @glwarm76: Good point, I forgot about the pricing.  As long as the price for a digital comic is around half of the price of a floppy then I’m fine with it.

    To quote the most recent podcast, "What Conor said", is my view on digital comics.  Stick with trades and maybe a few hard copies, but mostly convert to digital singles.  I would also have to get old back issues in digital just so I could have them on the go.

  5. Josh, don’t forget that you’ll be able to use your PDF reader right way. This means you’ll be able to get hundreds (if not thousands ) of digital scan of public domain comics: http://goldenagecomics.co.uk/ Of course, one must consider how good the scan quality is. 

    I’ll be getting an iPad, too, but not on Saturday, as I had planed. I’m not expecting much right out of the gate, but I believe by summer time the ball will be rolling and we’ll get some announcements at Comic-Con.





  6. I’m waiting on the 3G version and some definitive info on what the ibookstore will look like, but I will say that things look promising, and I’m very excited for the Ipad release.

  7. One of my concerns with digital comics is a gripe I have with digital music. On iTunes if you buy a song, never make a physical backup of your file and say your hard drive crashes 31 days after you paid for that song, there’s no legal way to retrieve your lost music after those 30 days. iTunes is, I’m assuming, the number one source for digital music, however they don’t give you an option to forever own your digital material without having to burn a physical copy of your music. Now, is the number one source for digital comics going to allow me to always redownload my digital material or am I going to have a longbox of CD/DVDs with my entire Fantastic Four run that I purchased on them or will they allow me to redownload them after i drop my iPad in the toilet?

  8. Well, like anything on the computer, make a backup. That’s on you, as the consumer in my opinion.

  9. The back-up problem really isn’t a concern for me b/c ill follow the ifanboy model: use digital comics to read my weekly books but pick up hardcover collections for series that I really dig and will re-read.

  10. As a guy that helps folks protect/manage their data in RL, regular and timely backups are always on the end user.  I’d imagine that for every person asking for Apple to keep track of everything a customer buys in order to allow for a redownload, there’d be customers that complain that Apple is retaining too much historical purchase information that could be used to nefarious purposes.  (namely, I don’t want a historical record that I bought a Milli Vanilli album).

    That being said, Marvel won’t replace my physical comics if they’re destroyed, stolen or lost, will they?

  11. Quick note on iPad tips/tricks…. I currently read PDFs on my iPhone using dropbox.  I copy a pdf that I need to read up to my dropbox and then within the dropbox app, I mark that document as a favorite.  This’ll copy the item into the applications local device cache so I can read it while disconnected from the network.  I plan on doing this for work pdfs that I need to access all the time, books I’m reading and whatnot.   

  12. But Apple does keep a record of everything you buy… As long as it isn’t a hassle to copy files that I purchase from my iPad to another computer (I’ve never bought anything from my iPod so I don’t know) I’ll deal with it.

  13. Thanks for this summary.  Very useful.  I’m fairly certain I’m going to hold off on this until at least version 2.  

    I’m very eager to hear about your experience with the device.  Are any of the other iFanboys picking one up? 

  14. Ahh.. @OnASunday if you buy something on an iPhone, there is an option in iTunes to transfer purchases from iPhone to the computer. I assume the same mechanism will exist for the iPad. 

  15. I’m looking forward to hearing the reviews.  However, early adopters usually lose when it comes to version 1.0 products of new technology.

  16. @OnASunday Actually, if your hard drive crashes and you lose your iTunes music, you can acually call them and they’ll let you redownload everything you’ve ever bought. You can only do it once a year, but it adds another layer of security.

  17. I’m a Comix x ology Comics X app (seriously what is that app called? and why does the logo have to be so poorly communicative?) and love it, for the most part. Scrolling/zooming works nicely but every so often it stops and glitches. A small issue but unresolved over the 100+ comics I’ve bought on it. I used to like iVerse in a big way but they seemed to stop updating the UK store apart from Archie and Star Trek comics so swapped.

    The problem is that both are delivery mechanisms, and occasionally broken ones. If you’re going to create a comic based experience on the iPad I want it written to the metal of the machine – communities, twitter links, tutorials etc. In that I hope Graphic.ly hits big but we’ll see….

    The one, ONE, good thing about the UK iPad coming out a month after the US one is that we at least see how things settle down in the first week. BWAHAHAHA you are the UK’s beta testers.

    I say that with gritted teeth and barely disguised envy hidden in the most camoflaged of manners. Sob…

  18. The device is a little pricey so I’m with you Stuclach.  Unless the digital comics are priced favorably to make up the difference some how.  I’m more than positive that Apple will reduce the price of the device relatively quickly.  I don’t think that comics on the iPad will succeed with such a fragmented store front.  I don’t want to open 3 different programs to read Green Lantern, Avengers and Invincible.

    I’ve seen this discussed else where, but I think offering some sort of discount on the physical trade after purchasing the digital copies in singles would be a great idea and satisfy the paper purists. 

  19. I bought a first generation iPhone (after the initial price drop…) and didn’t regret it at all.

    I did regret dropping it and cracking the glass after 1 1/2 years, but then I didn’t regret getting a 3GS.

  20. @Josh – Are Conor and Ron getting iPads, as well?

  21. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Waiting on the 3G iPad. So excited!

  22. Comic Book Lover and Comic Zeal are good apps to get scanned comics onto your iPad. They offer more than just reading them PDF-style.

  23. People don’t want to read comics on an iPad.  They want to watch youtube.

    @Onasunday Makes a good point.

  24. @KickAss: I want to read comics (and magazines and newsapapers) on an iPad. I am a person.

  25. As someone who has recently been packing for a move, if I could get an Ipad and my entire collection on it digitally I would be amazingly happy. I am done with paper as soon as I can be.

  26. @Conor – but how can we be sure?

  27. @Josh: It’s true. I could be a lizard alien wearing a human skin suit.

  28. @conor: Or one of the aliens from They Live.  I think Roddy Piper is too old to fight back now.  This explains those wicked stares you guys were talking about in the podcast.

  29. I’m interested to see where this is going.  I’m going to pinch my pennies and save up for either a first gen once a price drop happens or the intial set of second gen iPads.  All of this is so exciting!

  30. Conor’s mention of magazines reminds me: I watched a video recently (I think it was on youtube) that was about WIRED magazine for the iPad. There’s a section in there where we get to see what even the advertisers can do within the context of the digital magazine — for example, a reader can touch an ad and spin a photo of a car around 360 degrees.

    It definitely got me thinking about the potential of comics storyteliing on the iPad. I’m definitely curious to see what various "reader" apps will offer, and what will happen when CREATORS start to realize what they can do with the format.

  31. @daccampo I can see it now.. we’ll have spinnable 3d cutaways of secret bases and whatnot. I’d buy a digitial comic just for that!

  32. One of the many reasons I pre-ordered an iPad is to read comics on it.

  33. It would make an omnibus so much less painful to read in bed. Also, LCD backlit Mignola. Those two thoughts made me preorder an ipad.

  34. It’ll be just like "Big!"

  35. bye bye LCS if comics turn out as good as i hope they do on this. Specially over here in Australia. 

    I wonder though if in a year or two and this is a prefered way to get your books how long it will take before clever creators start messing with the style and layouts and we lose the 6×10 page setting.

  36. This is how the iPad will save comics!

    And while you ibook purchases will allow you to backup your purchases through itunes sync (a wholly painful process for windows users), You cannot access your ipad like your ipod classic/nano and won’t be able to back up purchases from other vendors. Most of them do allow redownloads, though.

  37. oops, forgot to hotlink in the last post!


  38. I’m confused, what is updated?  I read the story when you posted it two days ago, and it showed up in my feed reader, but I’m having a hard time telling what the new information is.  Lil’ help?

  39. @dignan17: The iVerse video is new.

  40. I reserved a 32 GB iPad for pickup on Saturday, and I may be an idiot for doing so, but I am one excited idiot.  I am pretty much constantly reading, whether it be comics, books, or stuff from the web, and the idea that I can get all of that stuff on one device that I can hold in my hands and read comfortably is just amazing.  The second that DC, Marvel, etc. make new comics available digitally day-and-date is the second that I start buying 2-3x as many comics.

  41. Did anyone else notice that MARVEL was in that iPad iVerse store? That seems like big news to me

  42. @nidx: Marvel is in most of the digital comics stores (including Graphic.ly once it launches).

  43. @conor after looking into it MARVEL digital comics are just not in the Canadian iApps

  44. I was just reading the Boing Boing review of the iPad ( http://www.boingboing.net/2010/03/31/a-first-look-at-ipad.html ) and this sentence from the review screamed off the page at me:

    "Tapping and swirling my way through iBooks … and iPad native apps provided at launch such as the spectacular, game-changing Marvel Comics app (crisp, lucid art, the ability to navigate frame-by-frame, rendering spoilers down the page obsolete)…"

    This is certainly the first I’ve heard of an actual "Marvel Comics" app.  Is this for real?  Or I wonder if the reviewer isn’t just confusing Comixology, iverse, or one of the other apps that happens to feature Marvel comics on them.  If this actually is happening, that’s a big wow. 

  45. The biggest barrier to reading a comic on a digital source for me, is the headaches you get from staring at the screen for too long. AFAIK the Ipad doesnn’t address that,and to paraphrase Dragons Den  "for that reason, i’m out."
  46. Another review refers to the "Marvel Comics iPad app developed by Comixology."  Looks like it’s for real!  Wow!  http://www.suntimes.com/technology/ihnatko/2134294,marvel-ipad-comixology-ihnatko-033110.article

  47. …and Comixology’s website is down for temporary maintenance.  Preparing for a big announcement perhaps?

  48. just saw a video rview where you saw the marvel app ..i’m assumiing..it featured artwork from the bendis/romita Avengers..

    promising news for current digital releases .


    http://vimeo.com/10595371 its only for a second but its there! id be so there to pay 2.50$ a comic when most here are around 8-9$! 

  49. Not comics exactly, but as we were discussing how magazines might change on the iPad… check out this video: http://gizmodo.com/5493792/vivs-living-magazine-for-the-ipad-combines-magazines-and-movies

    Now imagine something like that with comic art. Could be cool.

    I think it’ll take a while for creators to realize just what one can do with this new format, but… I see potential.


  50. I can’t wait for the glut of reviews on this thing.

    @daccampo – I better see a murmur article with your name on it.