11 Great Graphic Novel Apps

Image by Maya Karmon on Stocksnap.

“Biff! Pow! Oof!” Onomatopoeia words that I was very comfortable with in my childhood - they were commonly used to great effect in Batman and Robin! I very much enjoyed my comics, especially Bunty (Four Marys anyone?!) and the Beano and would regularly while away a morning curled up in a corner enjoying my weekly read. Comics, and their longer versions, graphic novels, are still as popular today, probably more so and I greatly envy young people their wide reading choice. The only problem I have with comics is the fact that they are so fragile and can quickly become tatty after several readings. This is where comic apps come in, with their ability to keep perfect virtual versions in perpetual pristine condition. There are many comic-based apps on all platforms, but here is my selection of the best. Age ratings given are from the app store information:

The only problem I have with comics is the fact that they are so fragile and can quickly become tatty. This is where comic apps come in.

Readly (IOS & Android)

Readly is a subscription service and for a low monthly fee (£7.99) you are given access to an ‘all you can eat’ magazine and comic store. You can download the app to 5 devices and these do not have to be personal to you, so for one subscription a whole family could have their favourite magazines to read. Comics include Epic!, Beano, Thunderbirds and Comic Heroes and magazines for kids include Horrible Histories, National Geographic Kids and Braindump. An excellent selection of magazines for grown ups with varied interests are available and more are added every month. Bargain!

Me Books/Comics (IOS & Android)

I mentioned this app in an earlier post as an excellent source of picture books for younger kids but you can buy comics through it as well. The series of four Alice in Wonderland comics is very good and favourite characters such as Batman and Superman feature too. Great as a safe place with age-appropriate comics for younger children.

Professor Garfield (IOS)

There are four apps in this series: Fact or Opinion, Online Safety, Forms of Media and Cyber Bullying. The popular cartoon cat stars in comics that are fun to read but informative too. They make teaching young people how to stay safe online easy. The learning is not explicit and most kids would just enjoy the colourful pages without feeling they are being preached at.

Iron King 1 -4 (IOS & Android) Age 9+

A series for lovers of the manga style of drawing, the four apps tell a continuing story. Sound effects and some limited animation are included but the comics still have the feel of classic comics; the black and white artwork means your focus is on the story and you are encouraged to read on without too many distractions.

Comixology (IOS & Android)

Comixology is a virtual comic store app with a cornucopia of comics for sale. All of the comics have individual age ratings and you pay for individual comics. There are over 100 free comics to download. These are mostly first in series but there is a comic for parents and teachers too called Raising a Reader with information about how graphic novels can help children love to read. Comics from DC and Marvel can be purchased here as well as titles from smaller publishers. The Bone and Dr Who series are popular with younger readers but the comics here go all the way up to adult so please do be mindful of this.

Comics in the Classroom (IOS)

There are 9 historical comics included as possible purchases in this app, including a comic on the subject of the murder of Thomas Becket and one about the Dambusters. The idea is that when you open a comic you can either read or have read to you a passage of factual information with the option to listen again if you wish. When you are ready you move on to the first page in the comic and double tap the first panel to begin. The narration and speech boxes are blank and when tapped you are given 3 choices of text to go in the blanks. You continue in this way for four pages then find out if you have completed the comics correctly - if not you will be unable to move on. A well-thought-out app.

Campfire Graphic Novels (IOS & Android)

This imprint has graphic novels that are both fiction and non-fiction based. There are some wonderful biographical titles about inspirational people such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. The classics section has graphic novel versions of Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein and Macbeth, to name but a few. There are no bells and whistles with this app but the graphic novels are of good quality and easy to read on screen.

Anomaly (IOS & Android) Age 12+

The artwork in the Anomaly interactive graphic novel app is just beautiful, and this, combined with an exciting story, sound effects and interactive elements that provide an immersive experience ensure that it will always have a place on my device. Lovers of Star Wars and other science fiction stories will love this app - hours of peace whilst they are reading  guaranteed!

What about if you want to create your own comics, is there an app for that? There certainly is!

Comics Head (IOS)

What about if you want to create your own comics, is there an app for that? There certainly is, lots of them, in fact, but Comics Head is one of my favourites. You can create comic storybooks with comic characters, add in your own photos and save the finished result so you can use it in presentations, on blogs or even just to send to your friends. Very easy to use and great fun.

Dulce et Decorum Est

I’m going to finish with a comic that isn’t actually an app but is held online, and is freely downloadable from Classical Comics, a top notch publisher of differentiated comic versions of classic novels and plays. Their beautiful graphic novels are available as ebooks but they don’t have an app as yet - my fingers are becoming very sore from being crossed in hope of one! The download is a beautifully drawn representation of one of the most harrowing poems I have ever read and it has immense power and pathos.

Writing this blog has reminded me of all of the fab content I have waiting for me to read on my device, so I think a curled up ‘duvet day’ is definitely in order - happy reading!

Bev Humphrey

If you're interested in literacy, Bev is a fantastic person to keep up with on Twitter or through her blog. She is a literacy, school libraries and technology consultant with 10 years' experience of working in school libraries, where she championed her passions for books and technology to inspire young readers. She is also the creator of The Write Path, an ongoing international collaborative writing project which was shortlisted for a TES New Literacy Initiative Award in 2009.