iPhone App Review: Comic Zeal Mobile Comic Book Reader

Comic Zeal
Mobile Comic Book Reader
Developer: bitolithic
Price: $1.99

The Comic Zeal iPhone app offers a way to read comics on a handheld device that conserve battery life much better than other similar applications. While most people may be turned off that it cannot read CBR or CBZ formats, the decision was intentional since CBR files are usually compressed and would require processor power to open (thus also decreasing battery life).

The downside to this is a lack of comics available. However, anyone can use the to upload their own user-created content so its a fair trade off.

The app has a great navigation interface as is storing and downloading new comics. Users can download comics directly from the app itself or upload them if they’ve been stored elsewhere. Version 2.06 offers new “eye-candy” graphics, like the ability to organize collections into comic boxes and bookmark pages for unfinished comics.

Actually reading the comics, however, is difficult and annoying for the most part. Most “pages” have multiple panels of varying sizes and shapes, which prove to be a problem due to the size of the iPhone’s screen. When panels do fit within the screen, dialog is far too tiny to see with out double tapping the screen and zooming in enough that all surrounding artwork is out of view.

The software isn’t entirely to blame for these unpleasant functions because so much of how you view sequential art relies on those who create the story.

Take for instance Flashback Universe’s Fantom Force, which has no consistent pattern of layout. It simply switches between a vertical and horizontal layout, making the reader spin the phone up and down like it was a steering wheel. The multiple sizes of boxes only add to this, not to mention the double tapping any time a lot of dialog was present.

There seems to be an ebb and flow to the way readers use an iPhone to read graphic fiction: Tapping, flicking, zooming and turning. But Comic Zeal offers no titles that seem to utilize this flow, and therefore it, and the medium of comics are held back until creators adapt to the application.


  1. this is possibly part of the push for the “visual” comics on itunes, a more palatable source of cash for comic companies on the next great medium, your celphone.

    Comment by mo — February 12, 2009 @ 11:29 pm

  2. This was not unobvious that there’s a real UI problem between the American Comic size and the size of the phone screens.

    We’ll be releasing something exceedingly cool in this vein in the next couple of weeks.

    Comment by mj — February 13, 2009 @ 12:34 pm

  3. @MJ Who’s we? I have Comic Zeal and with a little [hit the ground walkin] forehead bumpin, it’s workin out pretty great. I mean it doesn’t kill the battery bad, resolutions real good and once you turn the brightness down, not too bad at all.

    +I love that you can delete comics from the phone. It doesn’t sync through the cable, but uploads through wi-fi. You just have to convert your comic rars which is real easy through their program….get on it.

    Comment by Paterick — March 23, 2009 @ 4:29 am

  4. This is sweet. Its kind of like the new Bizarro comic strip app i found. They are both really cool. I think I’ll add this one to my app site. Hey, if anyone wants. If you like this one, Bizarro one is cool too… here’s the link… http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bizarro/id352721818?mt=8

    Comment by Jack Cramer — February 16, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

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