Saturday, May 8, 2010

Legal, Digital and Portable Manga

I have an iPod Touch, PSP, and a netbook, but realistically if you want to read digital comic books you want them to be portable and not take up a lot of room. So, I decided to test out reading manga on the iPod and the PSP. I chose manga because it is less available legally than other genres. For example Marvel is featured on many free iPod Apps and you can buy many titles at very reasonable prices (.99 to 1.99). The PSP store has a comics section and you can download Marvel titles (and others) for usually 1.99. Unfortunately, DC does not seem to support any of these services, which is a shame because what I really set out to read was Wonder Woman.

I love manga. I was an original subscriber to the sadly defunct Shojo Beat (I even picked up the free issue 0 that was at Barnes and Noble). Often I check out manga from the library due to the expense, but I do buy certain titles regularly like Nana. Any manga fan knows that there are many outlets for reading scans online, but this post is choosing to be 100% legal. In doing so, I will expose why there are so many's hard to find legal manga to read digitally! Even when you want to pay for it...

On the iPod I found several of the Manga Shakespeare titles and I downloaded the free preview of Richard III. This is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. What I love about the iPod is the amount of free content available. I can get almost anything I want for free and when I do have to buy stuff it's usually .99. Most games and apps go on sale regularly and before you actually buy the app you can read completely honest reviews. If the app or game sucks the reviewers warn you and that's nice. The free previews help with that too.

The Shakespeare manga titles are all 4.99, but many have a free preview. Here's some shots of the Richard III preview.

Reading this is an interesting experience because you can hit play and the app plays through each panel in order. You can control the speed by tapping to get to the next panel. It's almost cinematic and enjoyable, but it feels different than reading. This is not how all the comic readers on the iPod work, but it does suit the nature of this particular title.

Now, I'd love to review a manga for PSP but in the official PSP Comics Store I had trouble finding anything other than Vampire Hunter D, a title I like but one that I didn't feel like reading today. I did find a site called GOMANGA that allows you to download a few chapters of a very small set of titles, but I did not have time to do this.

At some point I will review reading American titles on the iPod and the PSP. The PSP store had a few free comic books, so I am currently downloading one of those.

If anyone knows of other sites or has any recommendations for reading manga on the iPod or PSP let me know. Ultimately, I prefer reading physical books. There is no worry about interface and the ease of use can't be beaten. I imagine comics on the iPad or a reader like Nook or Kindle would be a good experience though.

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