AMITIAE - Sunday 2 December 2012
The End of a Long Era in Comics - Dandy now Digital-only: A Look at the iOS App
By Graham K. Rogers
DandyDandy opened on the iPhone with a list of downloadable editions, confirming the nature of the app as a content-delivery vehicle. Most of the issues shown were priced at $0.99, but I tried one of three that were marked as free.
The iPhone (as has been mentioned before) is a little small for reading. I can manage a single page of an ebook, but the nature of a comic is to have several panels on each page, so even in the single-page view, this was not easy on my eyes. In some ways I feel that this is nit-picking: the app works fine; content can be downloaded and displayed; and it is possible to view using a larger (external) display.
The Help icon on both devices showed details of how the app was designed to work, but was far more nicely set out on the iPad. With both devices, Editions showed issues of Dandy back to 5 November 2011. Again, all were priced at $0.99 apart from the same 3 free editions. On the iPad I selected a different free issue to have a look.
The ComicContent is . . . . Well, it's a comic. The colours are bright, the text balloons are easy to read and the action (Phuth!, Bwoom, Thok!, Whump!) is perfect for the imagination. Story lines, dialogue and characterization are to be subjectively interpreted. The comic has certainly changed since the days of my grey flannel shorts and schoolboy cap. Only two characters from those days are still in Dandy: Beryl (formerly Beryl the Peril) and Desperate Dan, whose square jaw and moustache have suffered a little from time, but the cow pie still exists.
The first few pages of the purchased issue appeared on screen instantly with the later pages (12 - 36) loading within a second or two after I had scrolled to the page. When I tried the free download again, it was still not cooperating. The free issue (12 Nov) on the iPhone was fine, and when I downloaded that to the iPad there were no problems.
CommentsA famous comic from an equally famous publishing house is now digital only, confirming the significant switch that has taken place in publishing over the last year or two. In the late 1960s I worked in wholesale news distribution in London. At times these comics were hot items, with some print runs totally sold out.
As well as Dandy, D. C. Thomson has an app for the stable-mate, Beano. The list of in-app purchases for this indicate that this has been available online for a while longer. However there is no app for the Eagle, which has long ceased publication and which was synonymous with Dan Dare (there is rumoured to be a Dan Dare movie in the works). The comic influenced many other comic book writers, as well as being the first publisher for works by artists like Gerald Scarfe and David Hockney.
Economics, even without changing reading habits, make the change to digital distribution inevitable for all but specialist publications. Some, like Condé Nast have already responded well to this new paradigm. I tried The New Yorker Magazine for a while, as well as the UK Motor Sport, but it was hard for me to find the time to sit down and enjoy these, as good as they are.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.
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