The iPad is blessed/cursed with a plethora of comic book reader apps. Marvel, DC and Dark Horse all have their own ones and then there are the likes of comiXology and many more that use its engine. Sequential from developer iEnglish.com, is the latest entry into this field and is a promising start for the more mature comic book reader. That’s mature as in older, not necessarily less inclined to laugh at fart jokes or the use of the word “bottom.”
Sequential features graphic novels with a more “independent” feel from publishers such as Knockabout, Blank Slate and Myriad, with work by creators such as Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Robert Crumb, Nick Abadzis, Kevin O’Neill and many more. I like the way they use the word “creators” in the store instead of “writers” and “artists” — giving everyone equal billing, even if they actually do the words and the pictures. The Storefront itself is a very simple layout, with one featured comic, a list of new titles and a some recommendations. The app has only just launched, so there aren’t a huge amount of titles on offer as yet; it’s only available in the UK for the moment too, but that will change soon.
There may not be many titles, but they do have quite a varied range of styles in the store. Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s epic horror story From Hell sits next to Nick Abadzis’ Hugo Tate — a humour strip featuring a stickman that ran in Deadline magazine for six years. Other quirky inclusions are Nelson — a tale spanning 43 years in the life of one person, produced collaboratively by 54 UK comic creators — and Aneurin Wright’s Things to do in a Retirement Home Trailer Park — the title alone makes me want to read it! The description panel tells us it’s about “a young man coming to terms with his dying father,” not exactly a happy go lucky sounding story until you get to the bit that says the protagonist is a blue minotaur, his father a rhinoceros, the social workers are sea-turtles and the mobile homes are actually on the backs of giant elephants!
Once downloaded the comics themselves are presented in glorious hi-res, even on the iPads retina screen, and have two display modes — page and panel. Panel mode is accessed via a double-tap and zooms in to show the story one panel at a time to prevent you peeking ahead! Even when zoomed in I still couldn’t spot the individual pixels in the artwork, it’s that hi-res. The swiping and fading between each page/panel is nice and smooth, and the fading effect is sometimes used to add a bit of “movement” to the comics, with certain elements staying still and others fading over them.
Some of the graphic novels apparently come with audio commentaries and/or bonus extras too, but not any of the ones I purchased. Each one also has a preview window on its info page, but it’s too small to really get a sense of what you’re buying. In-app prices range from £2.99 for each volume of Moore/O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century series (on special at the moment) to £12.99 for some of the larger novels, with a couple of freebies thrown in too.
Overall, Sequential is a very promising app and one that can only improve as more publishers join in and fill the store with their offerings. UK readers can download it for free now from iTunes.