Confession time. I am a comic book fan. There I have said it.
Some prefer the term "Graphic Novels" but it's always come across as a defensive term to me. Comics are something to be ashamed of so let's come up with a more grandiose title. Then again lumping together the likes of Watchmen and The Beano because they both have speech bubbles is about as useful as saying The Exorcist and Home Alone are both films.
Apart from dipping into the occasional "graphic novel", I haven't been a heavy user of comics for a while. That is until last week when I started playing with my iPhone and found a whole HellBoy series posted in the App Store. Afters some more exploratory surfing, I discovered specialist comic reading apps such as ComiXology and iVerse. Rather than downloading comics straight from the App Store, these tools give you a neat user interface and a payment system. In the case of iVerse you get your own cute little wooden shelf in which all your purchases are lined up for your browsing pleasure. Each comic costs around 59p to download which is about equivalent to a music track - and is fairly reasonable.
But what is really neat is the display interface which means that you can choose to view a whole page of the comic - as you would do in the traditional paper-format - or by flipping the screen horizontally you can reach each panel blown up to full-screen. This panel by panel viewing of the comic format is really enjoyable - and feels even more natural than flicking through paper pages. What's more, the iphone screen is almost the perfect size and resolution for viewing the images and text.
Now I realise comics aren't everyone's cup of Kryptonite but I think the iPhone - and it's various imitators - could represent a real revolution for the comic book industry. Marvel has just this week licensed some of its top titles - Spiderman, Captain America, X-Men - internationally to ComiXology an indication that there is market share to be had.
Reading plain text on the iPhone or another e-reader is Ok but not exactly compelling. But the combination of images and text which comics represent feels like a natural fit for mobile devices such as the iPhone - and potentially the iPad. Combine this with the renewed interest in comics generated by the rash of recent Hollywood blockbusters based on graphic novels - The Dark Knight, Wanted, 30 Days Of Night, Watchmen - and before too long more comic book fans might be ready to reveal their secret identities.
For more check out this review on CNET