Review: Sticky Dot Comics
Sticky Dot Comics
Compatible with iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later.
Recommended for ages 8 and up.
At the end of February, Viz announced that it was launching a free all-ages app aimed at kids and families. The promise was to create an app where parents would feel comfortable allowing their children download and read comics from the VizKids line on an e-reader device.
For now, Sticky Dot Comics is only available for iPads with a version of ios 5.0 or later. I downloaded the app a few weeks ago to see what it was like. I’m a relatively new iPad user, and this was the first time I tried to download any manga on my iPad.
Ease of Use: I’ll give ease of use 5 stars right off the bat. I went into the app store, downloaded the app, opened it up and within minutes, I was ready to go. The overall style and feel of the app is inviting and very clear cut. The app defaults to the store, which is divided into three areas: Featured, new, and free. It’s easy enough to switch into “my comics” or to the settings tab.
Readability: The two-page spread comfortably fits on the iPad screen. Even my old eyes could handle the font and read comfortably, but a simple pinch motion will allow a reader to enlarge any part of the page. Advancing the page is just an effortless swipe. Which way you swipe will depend on the comics: The manga read right to left and the western comics read from left to right. But don’t worry, if you swipe the wrong way when you’re reading the manga, a message will pop up—just like the message at the back of the a Viz manga in print!
Content: When I first downloaded this app back in late February/early March, there were only two series to choose from, but since then, Viz has added a whole slew of titles, though the variety isn’t all that great yet. Given the steady increase of offerings since its launch, it’s fair to be patient with Viz and to assume that a healthy selection of titles from their VizKids line will be released. For now, readers will have to be comfortable with the Pokemon, Redaki, Voltron and Mr. Men and Little Miss series. (This particular series makes me conjure my own childhood!)
Each title offers a preview chapter, which is great for parents who want to get a taste of titles their children would be downloading. In addition, the purchasing of titles is very easy for anyone who has either a credit card on file with the iTunes store or a gift card. Each purchase requires a password, so parents who withhold their iTunes password can add an additional safeguard before their kids download a title.
My one little complaint is that if I download a preview and then opt to purchase the entire title, when I navigate to the “my comics” section, both the full comic and preview show up separately, but until I open the book, I don’t know which I’m selecting.
Though my own children are too young to read, as a parent, I would feel very comfortable allowing my child to scroll through the selections and make selections of their own. I’d probably withhold my iTunes password so I could pre-approve purchases, but other parents could feel perfectly comfortable allowing their children to choose from these comics. And at $3.99 for a full comic/manga, parents are actually saving money, because the print version can cost almost twice as much.
Overall, Viz has a great product on their hands. Once the selection of digital comics/manga becomes truly robust, this will be an outstanding product. The lack of bell and whistles and interactive features will actually satisfy parents that their kids are reading rather than playing.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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