I’ve been a bit of a skeptic with digital comics, the same way I was with digital books. I like the feel of paper and a book in my hand. I especially like being able to linger over comic art to absorb every detail and it seemed to me that digital resolution couldn’t match up.
Which is why I was somewhat shocked to discover that reading manga on an iPad was actually a better experience than the books.
Viz sent me an iPad pre-loaded with their app to test drive it and, like with my Kindle, I was won over fairly quickly. (But, no, I don’t get to keep the iPad. It was only a loan.)
There are several factors that made the digital reading experience a good one:
1. The iPad screen is larger than most pages of a manga digest. This means already there’s a clearer visual.
2. The iPad allows zooming in on anything that catches the eye. Instead of the resolution making things fuzzy, as I feared, it sharpens and enhances the image.
3. The availability of instantly free stories that Viz is offering to entice readers into trying their digital comics.
I’ve already started to use my new iPhone to entertain my kids while we’re waiting in various places. If I owned an iPad, I’d definitely download the Viz app so I could access the free items in their store, which include titles such as the first volumes of Dragon Ball, Hyde & Closer, Naruto, One Piece, and the Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha Previews.
A single volume might pull them in long enough to last twenty minutes or so.
The one big disadvantage, as my younger son pointed out, is that the iPad can grow heavy in small hands. His fingers ached a bit after reading for over twenty minutes. I suspect a good case would mitigate this particular problem.
The second disadvantage is that the kids will have to do all the reading on the iPad for digital content, meaning there might be a tug of war over who gets to use it. Print volumes can be handed back and forth without chance of breakage as well.
I am still a bit skeptical about what regular size comics like the monthly issues from DC, Marvel and the other American comic companies might look like on an iPad because the iPad screen is smaller than the physical issues.
But my experience with Viz has me far more open to the idea than I expected, just as I’m now buying more books digitally because of my Kindle. The ease of purchase plus the advantage of not having yet more books cluttering my house could also be translated to comics.
For instance, I’ve been eyeing the free previews that DC Comics provides and Marvel comics has a number of items available for free viewing as well.
It might well be a solution to the long-box clutter problem. On the other hand, without proper back-ups, one big mishap with the iPad could mean the loss of the digital library. With my books, I split the difference, sometimes buying print copies of books I adore so I can have that physical copy. I suspect that might happen with comics as well.