Here's a continuously updating list of the best iPhone graphic novels, comic book iPhone apps, and comic book readers available in the App Store right now. If you know of something missing from this list, make sure to drop me an email at email@example.com.
(Keep in mind, some of these are comic book readers and serve as platforms housing many different titles, such as the Comics app from Comixology or the Panelfly app. Others are standalone graphic novel apps, such as The Carrier or Daniel X. Still others are groups of similar graphic novels, such as IDW's Transformers series. This entire list was compiled by me and is subject to debate. Evan)
If nothing else, IDW has the market cornered on graphic novel apps and comic book movie adaptations for the iPhone. The GiJoe: Rise of Cobra graphic novel app is another of the IDW comics that offers a movie tie-in prequel, this one for the GiJoe: Rise of Cobra movie. This graphic novel app follows a similar pricing model as their other movie tie-ins: $3.99 for the full series in a single app, $.99 for the individual issues in the series, Rise of Cobra #1, Rise of Cobra #2, Rise of Cobra #3 and Rise of Cobra #4. The exception with the Rise of Cobra series is that you actually pay a few cents more for the full app versus the individual apps, and that the first issue isn't offered as a free preview. When you get down to it, though, IDW has published the best GiJoe iPhone comic apps.
The Heroes Comic Reader was one of the first comic book apps to house a library of comics, albeit only bite-sized webcomic adaptations of the Heroes NBC TV series. For $4.99 the app touts 135 novels, but in reality these are each just a few pages and are more like short snippets that add to the overall story behind the television series. You also have to manually download each of these mini-chapters, which gets tedious. But hey, it's Heroes, so that's cool, and it's the only iPhone comic book app you can use to keep up with Heroes comics.
Although it's difficult to figure out which iPhone app was the very first complete graphic novel app, Daniel X: Alien Hunter certainly appears to be one of the earliest releases. The graphic novel by author James Patterson is part of the Daniel X series, published in print as both prose novels and graphic novels. The app will run you $9.99. Not to be overlooked is the addition of ScrollMotion to power the reader behind the Daniel X app. I'll let you be the judge as to how you like, or don't like, using ScrollMotion to read a comic book; if nothing else, ScrollMotion certainly pushes the envelope for mobile comic readers.
Of all the licensed properties that IDW has in its lineup, the Transformers line of graphic novel and comic book iPhone apps runs the deepest. In addition to graphic novel adaptations of the first Transformers movie and its sequel, Alliance and Defiance, IDW has published a Transformers Animated six-issue series of comic book apps called The Arrival. And look out: an Astro Boy movie prequel looks like it is on the horizon as well! For these and more apps from IDW publishing, visit the IDW iTunes App Store page.
The Terminator: Salvation Graphic Novel app is a joint effort between Warner Bros. and IDW, and is notable because for a few reasons. One reason is that WB/IDW offer all five of the Terminator: Salvation comic book issues collected in a single graphic novel application. Another is that WB/IDW actually give you a discount on the single graphic novel app if you buy the full version for $3.99 versus each individual app (Terminator: Salvation #1, Terminator: Salvation #2, Terminator: Salvation #3, Terminator: Salvation #4, and Terminator: Salvation #5) separately for $.99 each. But the best reason to check out any of these comics is that they offer a true Terminator: Salvation movie prequel tie-in.
The first comic book iPhone application I saw in the App Store's featured section was Star Trek: Countdown #1, which came out right around the same time as the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek movie and apparently did some real gangbuster sales. I really enjoyed it, and would suggest the remainder of the IDW's Star Trek comic book iPhone series to anyone; I think it's the best movie prequel I've read so far. As with the Atomic Robo series, however, my chief complaint is that iVerse Media has not released all of these issues together in a single collected iPhone comic app. If they did, it would be one of the best comic apps out there.
Jeff Smith's epic comic book Bone is being collected as a series of comic book iPhone apps by UCLICK, one of the top web comic, mobile comic and digital comic strip publishers in the industry. There are eleven individual Bone iPhone apps available to date, each retailing for $.99: Issue 1: Out from Boneville, Issue 2: Out from Boneville, Issue 3: Out from Boneville, Issue 4: Out from Boneville, Issue 5: Out from Boneville, Issue 6: Out from Boneville, Issue 7: The Great Cow Race, Issue 8: The Great Cow Race, Issue 9: The Great Cow Race, Issue 10: The Great Cow Race and Issue 11: The Great Cow Race. If UCLICK can someday get Bone in its entirety available for the iPhone, that would be an enormous accomplishment. Bone remains one of the independent comic industry's proudest acheivements and I hope UCLICK can do it.
The Atomic Robo series of comics by author Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener is one of the great lighthearted comic book series you can find on the iPhone. Each issue of Atomic Robo (six in all), published as individual iPhone apps by iVerse Media, runs for $.99. The story and artwork and is very much in the vein of Hellboy, which is a compliment. I highly suggest these top comic book apps; my only complaint is that, as with all iVerse standalone apps, they are not available in a single collected graphic novel iPhone app.
I am not sure how I feel about Will Eisner's remarkable, industry-changing graphic novel A Contract with God being published by Kamikaze as an iPhone comic book app. I suspect I'm not the only one who thinks it's strange that A Contract With God, a comic that so thoroughly advanced graphic novel storytelling on the printed page, seems a bit out of place or even sacrilegious on a digital mobile device. But think about it some more, though, and you'll get to where I stand: Will Eisner pushed boundaries with his printed work, and comics on the iPhone are now pushing boundaries in a digital medium. Even if some of what Eisner did does not translate well, or at all, to the iPhone screen, this graphic novel belongs in an iPhone app.
Similar to the Comixology app, the Panelfly app also offers a library of comic books and graphic novels for viewing on the iPhone, but is a bit newer and has a bit slicker navigation. Panelfly as a company is affiliated with NBM, SLG, Picturebox and Manga University and offers a number of titles from all of these publishers, and more. It too is well worth the $.99 initial fee, and may help you connect with some comics you won't find as easily in your brick-and-mortar retail comic book shops. With Panelfly's latest update, readers can rate issues and share suggestions through Twitter and Facebook, certainly a cool touch for one of these top comic book reader apps.
iVerse Comics is the comic book library and reader iPhone app for iVerse Media. The release of the iVerse Comics app marks a philosophical shift in the company's thinking; before this library app came out, they had released dozens of single-issue apps that made up either limited or ongoing series, such as Eureka, Her Majesty's Bulldog Brigade or Proof. Now that the iVerse reader is here and they follow in the footsteps of Comixology and Panelfly, iPhone users and comic readers have an easier way to access and manage all of the comic books the company has to offer. The app is definitely worth a look and worth the $.99, and includes plenty of interesting free previews of titles you can check out for starters.
Robert Venditti's comic The Surrogates was made available as a comic book iPhone app just in time for The Surrogates movie release. I loved this story; it's one of the best science fiction comic books you'll read. There is a preview version available, and you can buy a $.99 app that includes chapters one and two, with in-app purchasing as an option for the remaining chapters (3-5).
Kamikaze is an interesting company. Not only have they taken A Contract with God and turned it into A Contract With God graphic novel iPhone app, but they have also managed to grab the license to publish Tim Hamilton's authorized graphic novel adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451. Fahrenheit 451: The Graphic Novel is a milestone achievement; the iPhone app is priced at $9.99 and includes over 1,500 screens and a foreward by Ray Bradbury.
Robot Comics offers a number of great graphic novelette apps that are adaptations of Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now by author Cory Doctorow. The comics were originally published in print under Creative Commons license by IDW and were adapted to iPhone app viewing by Robot Comics; all are free and certainly worth reading. My favorite is Craphound; I enjoyed the Isaac Asimov homage in I, Robot #1. Others to check out are Anda's Game, After the Siege #1, After the Siege #2, and When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth. Click here to visit the Robot Comics page in the iTunes store to get their complete lineup of comic book and graphic novel iPhone applications.
The Comics app from comiXology is one of the best comic book and graphic novel library apps for the iPhone. The Comics app itself is free; after that, you can choose to import whatever comic books or graphic novels featured in the comiXology lineup. For free, comiXology offers the first issues of many interesting and acclaimed series, including notable titles from Robert Kirkman such as Walking Dead and Invincible. They also offer FCHS, a comic by an industry friend of mine, author Vito Delsante. Other well-known print comic publishers in comiXology's lineup include Arcana, Image, Markosia, Moonstone, SLG and Top Cow, to name a few. It's a robust app and worth your time for the free comics alone. ComiXology updates their library every Thursday.
The Carrier graphic novel iPhone app from StopWatch Media is #1 on this list for a number of reasons. First, the OGN was written by me, Evan Young, and the iPhone app was developed by my brother, Geoffrey Young. Second, The Carrier is the first complete original graphic novel to be published exclusively on the iPhone, and represents the next evolutionary step in the American comic industry away from print and toward a growing and in my opinion permanent mobile market. At a $5.99 price tag, you get an entire graphic novel, as well as wicked technology-driven tie-ins that play off the iPhone's geolocation and Push notification services. You also get emails that build upon the story, adding extras that you don't get on the pages of the comic itself. Plus: the whole thing is told in real time, an innovation that is a true first for any digitally published fiction.
In other words, The Carrier is worth checking out, and belongs at the top of this fine list!