Get Your iPhone Comic Fix with Panelfly

Since the Golden Age, comic books have been a form of art-entertainment that have captured our youth; today, that is even more true as the comic book enters the digital age, and what better companion is there to help it along than the iPhone? Just like iBooks reinvented book-reading for iPhone, Panelfly hopes to do the same for comic books. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Keep reading after the fold to find out how you can get your favorite classic and modern comics on your iPhone or iPod touch, and devour them in ways you never thought possible on a touch-screen.

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Overview

Overview

The easiest way to get started with Panelfly is to go directly to the Store when you first open it. Immediately, you’ll see several sections (Featured, New Books, Top Tens, Browse and Download), which is reminiscent of the iTunes Store. The awesome thing about the Panelfly Store is that if you know how to use iTunes to buy music, you know how to use Panelfly to buy comics. It’s that simple.

Pricing

Panelfly is a free application on the iTunes App Store; comic book issues range from free to $1.99, and graphic novels can be more expensive (often in the $8.99 range).

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The Store

The Panelfly store offers lots of the most popular series for purchase, at unbeatable prices.

Using Panelfly

Step 1. Buy your first issue

Buying a book is as simple as tapping the Buy Issue button and entering your iTunes password; the reason you have to log in through iTunes is that it uses Apple’s awesome In App Purchase system to process payments. That means that you don’t have to sign up with Panelfly to download books! Chances are, if you were able to download the app, you will be able to download comic books.

Those of you who were hoping to not have to pay for comics, fear not! There is an entire section of free comic book issues, which changes periodically. To check it out, go to Top Tens, and tap Free Comics; there, you can get a taste of the fun you’ll have using Panelfly.

Whether you opt for a free issue or a paid one, when you download it, the book-cover flies into the Download tab; you can tap there to see its progress.

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The store page for Hellboy: Seed of Destruction

Step 2. Explore your Library

When you have downloaded an issue, you can back out of the Store by tapping the little arrow on the top-left corner of the screen. Then, tap the Library item, and it will bring you to a list of all your issues.

You can view your issues by Title, Publisher, Author, Artist or Genre by tapping those items in the tab bar at the bottom of the screen.

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Your Library

Your Library shows a list of the series that you have downloaded. Tap one to choose an issue and start reading!

Step 3. Start reading!

Now for the fun part: reading your new comic book! The really neat thing about Panelfly is how effortless it is to read from panels that are much larger than the screen of your iPhone. Panelfly knows where the borders and text captions are on every panel (even the irregularly-shaped ones), and will guide you through them. To go forward, tap on the right side of your screen; to go back, tap on the left. Panelfly will seemingly magically guide you from panel to panel, making sure you miss nothing!

Try rotating your device for a landscape view too. Panelfly performs like a champion, taking screen-rotation, scrolling, and zooming in its stride.

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Reading a Comic

Tap on the left and right to go backward and forward in your new comic book issue!

Step 4. Save some for later

Congratulations! You’ve learned how to use the bulk of Panelfly. There are a few more gems in it, though: sometimes, you’ll find a page that really stands out to you, and you’ll want to save it for later; look no further than the Bookmark button on the toolbar! Tap it, and your page will be fly into your bookmarks. Pages that you bookmark are collated across all of your comic book issues in the Bookmarks screen (from the top level, tap Bookmarks). Now, you can swipe through, jump to, or delete any bookmark you have ever made.

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Bookmarks

It’s easy to save a bookmark in Panelfly, and just as easy to look at it later! From the front page of Panelfly, tap Bookmarks to get to this beautiful bookmarks manager.

Final Thoughts

There are a few other comic book applications for iOS, but Panelfly really stands out with its superb visual design (the red theme is breathtaking), admirable performance, and wide selection. If I could think of anything that would improve the app, it would be an update including better resolution graphics for the Retina Display; another improvement would be to update the application to work with iOS 4′s new Multitasking feature. The app looks beautiful on my iPhone 4, but I know that it would be just unbelievable if it had the crispness that would come with doubling its resolution.

The Panelfly team has indicated that they are hard at work on an iPad version of the app, which looks amazing. The future for this comic bookstore looks bright indeed.

After having wandered bought a few issues of Hellboy, I can’t wait to sit down with a cup of coffee and start reading. Panelfly gets a 9/10 rating from me; when the app is updated for the Retina Display and Multitasking, I’ll be happy to rate it 10/10. I hope you give this great, free app a shot, and get inspired again by comics.


Summary

Panelfly is an all encompassing comic resource, offering users a inline mobile store, complete library functionality, sequential panel navigation, bookmarking capabilities, and a unique page index menu. It's beautiful UI makes it a joy to use and promises to be one of the best comic experiences you'll ever have.

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  • http://www.kristarella.com kristarella

    Sounds awesome! Is it US only? It doesn’t seem to be in the Australian app store :(

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