Chances are if you are reading this you may have a few comic books stashed away for that future moment when the insanely rich decide they absolutely must have the limited edition, holographic cover of Spectacular Spider Man #189. I’ve got news for you, it will probably never happen (I’ll keep dreaming anyway), but at least comics are still fun to read.
Comic Reader Mobi is the latest in a genre of apps that allow you to read comic books in digital format. For those who are not already aware, comic book files can be found as comic book archive files in various sites around the internet. Most of these are Golden Age era comics that are no longer in copyright, although a few are licensed under Creative Commons.
Comic reader has one feature that sets it apart from most of the other comic reader programs. By simply tapping any of the text bubbles, you can magnify that bubble. The app automatically detects the size of the text bubble and magnifies that text alone. You can also magnify a small area without expanding the entire page. It is an extremely handy feature that allows you to see the whole page and read the text without zooming in and out.
Comic Reader Mobi supports rar, zip, cbr, cbz, and pdf files. To load files you will need Comic Sync, which is free on the developers website. Simply load the program, which is very small, and click and drag files into the Comic Sync window.
One issue I had with the interface was the page-turn controls. Most reading apps will allow you to turn the page with a horizontal swipe, but Comic Reader requires a double tap to open controls and a third tap to actually turn the page. It all adds up to a lot of tapping over the course of a whole comic book. Many apps also allow the option of turning your iPhone sideways to view the width of the page, but unfortunately Comic Reader does not allow this.
Most of the time Comic Reader Mobi worked flawlessly, but I did run into a few problems. One of the files I uploaded had very large, high-resolution images, which gave the app some trouble. If I zoomed in much the screen would go blank until I zoomed out again. It also crashed a few times when I tried to turn the page. Another file was a Golden Age era comic and the scanned pages were yellowed, which caused the app to have trouble finding the edges of text bubbles in some cases.
Overall, Comic Reader Mobi is well-designed and makes reading on a small screen easy. If there is any reason to hesitate in purchasing the app, for some it may be the $11.99 price tag. As long as the developers continue to support the app and update the issues I mentioned, I see no reason to hesitate despite the above-average cost.
(For my examples I used the comic “Cory Doctorow’s Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now” which can be found here: http://www.archive.org/details/CoryDoctorowsFuturisticTalesOfTheHereAndNow.)