Rosemary O’Connor

Creating digital comic strips with iPads can be exciting and enriching for both teachers and students. The apps that we review here can be used for creative writing, storyboarding, and interpretations of texts, providing an easy way for students to be able to make commercial quality works ready for sharing in print and on the Web.

Deciding which app to use can be a hassle. Cost, user-friendliness, features, and support are a few of the many considerations.

Below are reviews of 3 apps to help teachers and students navigate the comic strip app market.

1. Strip Designer by Vivid Apps: Rated 9+, $2.99, My Rating: 5 Stars

What’s nice about this app, which I think is great, is that it is geared towards a variety of users (kids and adults), photos and designs for panels can be extracted from a multitude of sources (Facebook, iPad library, iPad camera, Dropbox, Maps), and its effects and toolkits resemble ones found in Photoshop.

Anyone with graphic designer tendencies will appreciate the app’s extensive font library (I used “Radioactive Granny”), as well as it’s ability to easily import fonts from Blambot and Font Squirrel. Using examples found in the Strip Designer Flickr Group (www.flickr.com/groups/1327216@N22/), along with guided instructions, teachers will have a fun time using Strip Designer with students (upper elementary +) to build creative and dynamic comic strips.

Note: Due to the amount of editing choices, which may involve importing photos and fonts from a variety of Internet sources, more monitoring and tech skill-building lessons may be necessary.

2. Comic Book! by 3DTOPO: Rated 9+, $1.99, My Rating: 5 Stars

This app is awesome for the classroom: it opens with a flash of a flying dog in a red cape, and quickly becomes a canvas for comic creation. Photos for panels can be imported from an iPad library and iPad camera, and quickly manipulated to attain a variety of comic-like appearances (e.g., sketch, manga, rock, vibrant). Layouts, captions, and stickers are easy to apply, and additional sticker packs are available for $.50.

This could be the go-to comic building app for many teachers: it’s incredibly user-friendly and straightforward, and has a just-right amount of editing features to create impressive comics (elementary +).

3. Comic Life by plash LLC: Rated 4+, $4.99, My Rating: 3 Stars

Two noteworthy aspects of this app set it apart from others.

Firstly, it has something called “In Trays.” In Trays allow up to 16 iPad users in the same Wifi network to share their work. Users can place their comics in a digital tray where they can be read by others, and similarly pick up comics other users have created and put in the tray. This seems perfect for a classroom environment- it’s a virtual library of comics.

Secondly, the collection of comic templates is exciting as well as educational. Templates such as “60’s Comic,” “Futuristic,” “Manga,” and “Conceptual” can be selected. One called “Maps” is particularly great because it allows students to place photos (from iPad library and iPad camera) into maps of continents and the world.

The downside of this app is that it is not user-friendly. I found myself referring to the manual repeatedly to figure out what to press to accomplish anything. The auto-save function needs some work, too. I lost a comic when shifting screens and wasn’t able to recover it. This app has a lot of potential, but at the moment I would not recommend it because it is not intuitive to use.

“Nooks” retrieved from blog Page in Training.

For more reviews of other Comic Strip Apps (Bit Strips, Pixton, Make Belief’s Comix, and Mythis and Legends), visit the blog Web 2.0 EDU.