With Labor Day weekend upon us, now is a good time to stock the virtual longbox with some digital comics. We reported the other day that Image has made 20 of its #1 issues free on comiXology; here’s a roundup of some other free’ n’ cheap digital comics to check out over the holiday.
Centsless Books is a website that rounds up all the free Kindle books on Amazon, and it has a dedicated section for comics and graphic novels. There’s a preview of Batman: Earth One up there, and a lot of first issues of different indy series. Some of the graphic novels aren’t really — at least one book I checked was prose not a graphic novel, and Little Nemo’s Wild Sleigh Ride is a picture book that uses Winsor McCay’s illustrations (which are in the public domain). Well worth checking out, especially if you’re a First Second fan, are the two Between the Panels books, which are promotional pieces put out by Macmillan, with creator essays, character sketches and side stories, all related to different First Second graphic novels. Aside from that, it’s a pretty mixed bag, but one that looks like it will be fun to rummage around in. These Kindle comics will also work on the Kindle iPad and Android apps.
Infinity is a free iPad fanzine from Panel Nine, which has published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John and David Lloyd’s Kickback as standalone iPad apps. The inaugural issue includes an interview with Lloyd, a preview of Dapper John, a roundup of digital-comics news, a couple of app reviews, art by Simon Russell, and an interview with PJ Holden, the creator of Murderdrome, a short comic that was booted from the iTunes store for being too violent (it’s actually a spoof). It’s a nice collection and well worth the effort of clicking that iTunes button.
Here’s a holiday treat at a price Ebenezer Scrooge would appreciate: Little Nemo in Christmasland, a free sampler of Winsor McKay’s comics from Sunday Press, which publishes those big, beautiful Little Nemo books.
It’s too bad the iPad didn’t exist in 1906, because it would be interesting to see what McKay could do with the smaller format and bright colors. As it is, the comics show up nicely on the screen but are a bit too small to be fully legible. (This isn’t helped by McKay’s wobbly, crowded lettering.) That means the reader’s experience is broken into two pieces—first you look at the page as a whole, and appreciate McKay’s lovely drawings and masterful compositions, and then you blow it up to read the lettering and follow the story. Admittedly, the second stage is optional, as the stories are fairly slight. The bottom line is that the iPad is really too small to show off these comics at their best, but it is a decent alternative if you can’t afford (or store) the full-size books.
One warning note: These comics appeared in the early 1900s, and they reflect the popular culture of the times. Which is to say, there are crudely caricatured black characters in several of the strips.
If you like the Christmas sampler, check out the 38-page Little Nemo in Slumberland app for $3.99.
If you’ve been thinking of heading to Italy and want to stay somewhere close to the water, Villa Comics has six rooms available with a private bathroom, air conditioning, TV, minibar and a comic book theme.
Located in the Gulf of Policastro – Cilento, “the theme is ‘comics,’” their website reads, “and each room is named after a comic character. There are room in honour of: Little Nemo, Tin Tin, Spiderman, Uncle $crooge, Corto Maltese, Spirit and Dylan Dog. Each room is decorated with a colourful canvas. Whether you’re a comic fan, or not, you’ll be enthralled by the attention to detail and the way in which ‘comics’ seeks to transport its guest into the world of fantasy to which each room has been dedicated.”
The proprietor, Gianfranco Martuscelli, is a cartoonist who wanted to combine his passions for comics and tourism.
No, really. I swear. They’re going to have children’s activities and everything. Still, if you’re unable to attend the proceedings, I suggest celebrating by putting on your finest nightgown, have your bed grow legs and walk out of your house and then talk so quickly that the words all cramp together and then spill out of the balloon above you. Either that or have a toasted cheese sandwich just before bed which, as well all know, always leads to a horrible nightmare.