Comichaus started life as a website to support and profile small and indie comic book creators and build a respectable database and marketplace for indie comic books. Comichaus launched their own comic books about a year after they stepped out onto the indie comic book scene, and then launched their streaming indie comics app last Fall. They just got around to inviting me to have a look at the thing.
The app boasts unlimited access to every indie title in the catalogue and unlimited downloads for offline viewing, for the bargain basement price of £3 per month ($4.05 USD), and an ad free experience for £5 per month ($6.75 USD). According to the website, they split the revenue from both advertising and subscriptions straight down the middle with the comics creators, based on the number of times each creator’s books are read on the app.
The app is a pretty straight forward download. I’m not very tech savvy, and I loaded it on my Android phone and my iPad (iOS 9, which is the oldest, crappiest model that will run the app) in just a couple minutes for each device. Registration for the free 14-day trial was also really simple. Pick a name and a password, and away you go. No need to enter a credit card number or anything. This isn’t one of those deals where they get all your billing info up front, then when you miss the cancellation deadline by 16 seconds, it autobills your card. I like that a lot.
From the Dashboard, I went to the “Browse” screen. Subscribers can browse by title, genre, publisher, creatives (creators), and characters they love. Click on a title, and you’ll have the options to read, save offline, or add to your “favourites.” The titles are all cross referenced with the creative teams behind the books, so if you read a story you really like, it’s easy to find titles by the same creators.
Of course the first thing I did was quickly scan the publishers list to see if I recognized any. I was shocked to actually see several that I know. Dynamite, Alterna, and IDW are all represented with over a hundred other publishers. The list of titles is insanely long and varied through genre and rating. I’m drawn to horror, crime, and sci-fi, mostly. In found several titles I’m already familiar with and dozens of interesting new titles with very little effort.
I opened up a few comics I’m very familiar with to compare the image quality to copies I already own, and then a few random ones to check consistency across the app. Army of Darkness, Unit 44, and 30 Days of Night were my comparison titles, and they looked just as clean and crisp as my other digital and physical copies. Then I opened Ritual, Bomb Scares, and Nazi Werewolf Zombie Inferno, which I’ve admittedly never heard of but had interesting enough titles to pull me in, and they each looked fantastic.
One of the things I did notice in the viewer is that I can view whole pages and zoom in, but there isn’t an option to view panel by panel, like some of the other digital services offer. That’s pretty much a non-issue on the iPad, but the letters are just a tiny bit too small on my Android smartphone to read without a little amplification. I was able to enlarge the page and drag it around, but there’s no auto feature for that.
The only other small issue I had with the app is that unless you spring the extra couple pounds (bucks) for the ad free experience, there is a banner ad at the bottom of the navigation screens, and a 5 second ad will pop up when you open a comic to read. That’s a little annoying, but it’s a relatively noninvasive way to keep the monthly subscription costs low, and 5 seconds really isn’t so bad. It’s not like one pops up every time you turn the page or anything.
To recap, in the “pro” column, I have:
-Unlimited online access to the entire digital catalogue
-Unlimited downloads to read offline
-An insane number of publishers, creators, and titles
-Low monthly subscription fee
-Easy 14-day free trial
-Basic subscription comes with banner and popup ads
-No panel by panel navigation within books
The bottom line is that I really enjoyed the experience. I did mention I’m not super techy and even I had very little issue downloading the app, registering, or navigating. If you’re looking for a fantastic source to discover and read amazing new indie comics without breaking the bank, the Comichaus app is a great way to go.