Andy Ihnatko has a new iPad and he also has a beta of comiXology’s new app optimized for the new retinal display and he says it rocks. Not only that, but comiXology will be upgrading all of its offerings to the HD format…free.

But the iPad’s new Retina Display throws the door to digital comic books wide open. The experience of reading a comic book on either of the first two generations of iPads was, at best, adequate. If your vision is good and you’re willing to squint a little, you can possibly read comics in fullpage mode. Halfway through the first issue of a story arc, though, you’ll stop being a hero. If you’re using an open comic book editor, you’ll start zooming and scrolling. If you bought your comics from the Comixology mode, you’ll switch to their guided panel view mode.

On the new iPad . . . you can stay in fullscreen mode through all 100 issues of “100 Bullets.” The art and the lettering is slightly smaller than a standard printed comic book page, but it’s perfectly crisp and readable throughout.

Comixology is right on board with a new edition of their Comics app, which is currently inside Apple’s App Store approvals process. The company provided me with a beta and a sample comic (Jonathan Hickman’s “Pax Romana”) rendered in high definition. It’s a delight.

We’ve often noted that comics are increasingly being created digitally with the wow factor of spectacular backlit displays as the norm and not the printed version. As tablets take Zeno’s journey towards perfection, they are going to loom larger and larger as the platform of choice for a certain segment of the market.

And kudos to comiXology for staying on top of the developments without making their customers pay for it.


  1. Agreed the reading experience on the earlier iPad was less than adequate, and forget about reading on an iPhone / iPod. The new retinal screen iPad just might get me on board with digital comics.

  2. I can’t stand to do anything on an ithing. Just being forced to sequester data to a single application (instead of a block of storage I can use as I see fit) kills it for me.

    But then, the sort of person who is making that argument probably doesn’t want to deal with digital comics unless they can somehow pay Apple for them in the first place.

  3. “If your vision is good and you’re willing to squint a little, you can possibly read comics in fullpage mode.”

    Um, could we lay off the crack for a bit? Present day tablets are quite exquisite for reading comics. Having read hundreds of offerings from comixology I really haven’t thought “gosh, this really needs more resolution!”. The one exception was Negima which is no longer an issue (sadly). Continuous tone displays with good rescaling work surprisingly well due to aliasing.

    Keep in mind that most of the golden/silver age was printed on pulp paper which could hardly support 300 dpi much less consistent color reproduction. Most of the distinctive stylistic elements of comics evolved to account for these limitations.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the folks extolling the retina displays could pick them out in a double blind test.

    I’m not saying that a 300 dpi display wouldn’t be a nice thing to have, it’s just way down on my priorities. Sort of like electrostatic headphones for my music.

  4. Yeah I agree. I don’t understand this whole argument about not being able to read on previous gens. I have iPad first gen and have never had a problem reading it. So odd.

  5. I agree completely about the resolution issue–comics look great on tablets, period. The higher the resolution, great, but they look fine now.

    Let’s not forget that for 50-some-odd years comics were printed on the shittiest paper with the shittiest printing with color provided by EXTREMELY low-resolution dots. Artwork bleeding through the back of the paper, newsprint going brown, colors off-register. We read those just fine, too.

  6. “Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if half the folks extolling the retina displays could pick them out in a double blind test.”

    The site “The Next Web” has a video where they took the new 3rd gen iPad against an iPad2 and asked people which was the new one. They could have played with the results in the editing, but around half of the people thought the iPad2 was the new one.

    That said, I own both an iPad and an 10.1 Android tablet (for my job as a developer) and I enjoy reading comics better on the Android as the 16:9 ratio of the screen means comics at full screen are just ever so slight smaller than a print comic book page. The iPad, even with higher resolution is too short at it’s 4:3 ratio.

  7. Personally I’m underwhelmed by the current iPad2 ComiXology app, and not for lack of trying: I use it regularly and have purchased more than 150 comics (including some series I read digital only). The iPad3 will force ComiXology to improve their files resolution and compression ratio, which will benefit iPad2 owners too, especially in zoom mode.

  8. Now if it were only cheaper. my money is still on the Kindle Fire/Nook. The iPad and Apple in general is the bourgeois brand. the general public just wants a tablet, no matter the specs(somewhat) so long as its intuitive and affordable.