In order to survive, hordes of players have made their content digitally available since a little while back. But despite the potential of digital media, the comic book industry is still moving in a little bit late. Until recently, finding commercially-published digital comic books is not as easy as other kind of books.
Luckily, everything’s changing now.
Good Looking And Social
If you are a comic lover, you’ll be happy to find this good looking multi-platform app called Graphic.ly. And aside from the look, the app also has other trick up in its sleeve: it’s social.
What’s the fun of reading good comics if you can’t share them with your friends? Maybe this is the underlying concept behind Graphic.ly. The app is trying to merge comic reading and social networking. The download page makes that concept clearly visible, along with the fact that this app is available for Windows and Mac (via Adobe AIR).
To maintain the social side of the app, you’ll need to “Sign in” (or “Create an account” – for first time users) before using the app.
Some people might think that Graphic.ly takes the social concept a little bit too far. The home screen is more similar to most social sites’ interface than to comic book reader applications. On the left pane you have Inbox, Feeds, New Comics and My Profile, along with news updates from the creator of the app.
The middle pane has a “Got something to say?” box and all of your and your friends status updates. Those with eagle eye will notice Facebook and Twitter check boxes there.
And on the right pane, you have “New Releases” and “Top Comics” recommendation.
Getting And Reading Comics
Similar to iTunes for music and movies, Graphic.ly also serves both as reader and store for comic books (mostly – if not all – North American comics). There’s the “Categories” on the left, “Featured” in the middle, and “Friend purchases” and “Recommendations” on the right.
The good news is, there’s the “Free Comics” category. The bad news is, the category is not working – yet. So I tried the reader using the only free comic that I can find.
After clicking the “Free” (or “Buy“) button for the comics that you want, the comic is downloaded and saved under “My Collection” tab.
After the download process is complete, you can start reading it. The first page contains the cover along with other contents that available with the comic.
The reading process itself is quite straightforward, you click on the right arrow to move forward, the left arrow to move backward, and the scroll bar to move up and down the page. There’s also the zoom slider to enlarge the image to the size that you want.
One thing that I really don’t like about this app is you that you can’t use the arrow keys (and other keys) on the keyboard to navigate the comic pages. Having to repeatedly point and click the mouse to specific location just to flip page can be really annoying over time.
When you hover your mouse above the page, you might find comment points (I don’t know what they’re really called). Click on these points and you can see the comment box with comments on one detail of the image (something like: “Nice legs!“) or more explanation about unfamiliar terms on the dialog bubble. You can add your comments to the conversation if you want to.
And There’s More
A dock with more options will show up when you click the small arrow at the bottom of the screen.
There’s the “View Mode” button to choose how you want the comic page to appear.
There’s the “Social” button to share comic page(s) to your friends and to show/hide comment points that mentioned above.
Appearance-wise, I personally think that this app is one of the few apps that seems to be “beautifully made“; even though there are some problems with navigation that needed to be fixed.
However, I do have few things on my wish list: to integrate some kind of guided view technology like Comics and to add keyboard shortcuts. And if this app has the ability to read comics from external sources like what Simple Comic does, this would be the perfect comic book reader.
Do you have your own favorite comic book reader? Share using the comment below.