Tech  |  Features

The Uncanny Comics App is a True Believer’s Guide to Comics

March 28, 2014  |  1:30pm
The Uncanny Comics App is a True Believer’s Guide to Comics

Thanks to digital comic stores like the Comixology app it’s become super simple for anyone to dive into mountains of virtual paperbacks. While it’s become easier than ever to jump into the comic book hobby, figuring out where to start can be a daunting task with thousands of titles and issues for each superhero. To help new readers get started Uncanny Comics is a new newsstand app by Imagine Publishing, the creators of SciFiNow.

Uncanny Comics hopes to be everyone’s go to comic guide from new fans to long time followers. The monthly magazine features a compilation of hot titles that readers should buy today across all the publishers such as DC, Marvel, and The Walking Dead publisher, Image Comics. New readers just trying to get a handle on which dimension DC is in or who Wolverine’s new squeeze also get suggestions on which classic comics they should pick up first.

Originally the Newsstand app sprung out of a James Hoare’s, an editor at Uncanny Comics, desire for a new magazine dedicated to comics. At the time Imagine Publishing, the company behind Uncanny Comics already had a geek-oriented publication called SciFiNow. The magazine covered TV, film, books, videogames, anime and comics—but Hoare wanted something the fans deserved—a magazine that focused specifically on presenting comic book lore.

“The seed of Uncanny Comics came from my renewed enthusiasm for Marvel Unlimited, which had just arrived on Android in a meaningful way,” Hoare said noting the buggy nature of the app and service when it first launched on iOS.

Hoare wasn’t alone. He found an ally in Imagine’s Head of Publishing Aaron Asadi who went through a similar journey of rediscovery with Spider-Man. “We realized that when presented with this whole churning ocean of comic books, we pretty much stuck to the characters we knew. The only solution to the paralysis was to just cling tighter to the things that struck a chord with us when we were 13-years-old.”

Over a coffee Hoare sketched out a few sample pages on a notepad and brought them over to SciFiNow’s Art Editor Stephen Williams. The idea clicked, Hoare says Williams was able to take the idea from print and turn it into a digital experience befitting of digital comics.

Hoare explained that Newsstand publication is geared to both classic comic book fans and newcomers. “Superhero movies are an unstoppable pop-culture behemoth that has gushed down like a waterfall onto [a new] demographic of readers,” Hoare said.

At the same time the magazine is made with readers like Hoare himself in mind. Hoare recalled he’s been reading superhero adventures since he was 10 years old after he discovered a bin of 25-page back issues in a musty old bookshop. “I don’t know everything about everything,” Hoare admits. “It’s just not possible—so Uncanny Comics very much represents a personal journey of discovery and I think that that simple but crucial thrill of the new translates to all readers.”

Along with the lists of top-notch titles readers should check out, Uncanny Comics is full of rich features including interviews. For this month’s question and answer session the magazine spoke with Chris Mowry, the creator of IDW’s newest Godzilla serial. There are also longer form stories profiling both the comic book creators and heroes from the pages. Other features like Classic Creator gives readers a primer Silver or Golden Age greats. Event Explained untangles crossover in an abridged form. And lastly Who On Earth 1 Is…? lays out a 101 on a less well-known character.

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Alongside the deeply researched stories, Uncanny Comics is presented in a sharp layout with original comic-style artwork, which Williams creates himself in Photoshop. Hoare explains the process starts “by taking the main feature of the issue and playing around with the character’s iconography, trying to boil it down to simple, but effective set of bold colors and heavy lines.“

Hoare says Apple’s Newsstand was the perfect home for it as Imagine Publishing’s entire portfolio of publications lives on iPhones and iPads. “Immediately seeing the value of our product and the passion we’ve squeeze into it with every tap of the keyboard, and [Apple] promoted it to the front page of Newsstand for that crucial first week.“

For Hoare, he says that making Uncanny Comics is also his way of introducing comics to a new generation.

“I’ve been into this stuff since my dad sat me down to watch Doctor Who. It’s a giddy thrill being able to share with people that same experience,” Hoare quips. “To help others find the same life-altering qualities that I found in science fiction, fantasy, horror and comic-books.”

“It’s a very broad church but on the whole its values are positive: ask questions, covet justice and freedom, dream of something better and strive for something more,” he continued. “How could sharing that be anything other than great?”

Uncanny Comics is not just a good idea though—it’s a smart, well put-together app and magazine for comic lovers. With plenty of nice artwork and great articles, Issue 1 is already making a promising first impression. If you’re a long time fan or just a curious onlooker who came from the Captain America: the Winter Soldier, Uncanny Comics is a great way to get even deeper into your comic hobby.

The Uncanny Comics app is free itself, but individual issues will cost $0.99. Alternatively users can sign up for a subscription at $0.99 per month or pay $5.99 for the whole year up front.

Uncanny Comics is an iOS app available for free in the iOS App Store.

Kevin Lee is a freelance writer who types all day and listens to his ever-expanding music library. Follow Kevin Lee on Twitter at @baggingspam.

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