Our UK-based readers maybe familiar with the comic anthology The Phoenix. Published by David Fickling Comics, it made its debut on January 2012, and has since delivered a number of original strips every week to kids in the UK.
Built to entertain and encourage children to read, the magazine contains a variety of stories: short funny strips, non-fiction stories, one-off adventures, and even epic serials that span multiple issues.
Plus, there are also special sections for puzzles, fan-made artwork and letters, drawing tutorials, do-it-yourself comic, and all sorts of competition.
Earlier this year, the magazine has decided to go digital. Available as a Newsstand app, now international readers can get their hands on The Phoenix too.
Rising from the Ashes
Officially titled The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic, the digital magazine comes with all the goodness of the paper edition: 32 pages of original stories, full color and advertisement-free.
It also adds unique features to make reading on the iPad comfortable. First, you can double tap on any individual panel to view it in Panel mode, where it is zoomed in for easier reading. You can also swipe to go to previous or next panels, or double tap to go back to Page mode.
Some pages have special pop-ups that provide you with extra info about the magazine or the comic strips. Tap the Something Cool button at the bottom when it glows yellow to bring up the pop-ups.
Another feature that you get in the digital magazine is the ability to star a page for quick access later. All your starred pages are available under the Favorites tab. You can also navigate the Contents tab to see all the pages in the magazine.
Parents Need to Know
The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic app is available for free to download, and comes with a free sample issue. The app will send you a notification when new issues are delivered every Friday through Apple's Newsstand.
If you are interested in receiving new issues, you can purchase a subscription. There are three subscription options: $2.99 a week, $8.99 a month, and $46.99 for six months. For now, you cannot sync between print and digital subscriptions, but the publishers mentioned that they are working on it.
If you don't want to subscribe, you can purchase each issue individually for $2.99. Do note that you can only purchase as far as 10 back issues. This is a bit unfortunate for new readers, but the app makes amends by supplying quick recaps every several issues, and by balancing the number of deep, long-running serials with refreshing one-off stories.
One last thing that I want to mention is because the magazine is UK-based, the comics and the app use British English. If you want to learn about the contents of the magazine without downloading the app first, you can read a sample issue on the publisher's website.
Things I Like
As we are not based in the UK, I have never heard of The Phoenix before we were contacted by the publishers. However, I googled a bit, and found that the paper edition has received generally positive reviews for its attempt to engage readers through great storytelling.
As a new reader, I thought the magazine was quite enjoyable. There are plenty of interesting stories that vary in terms of art and storytelling, so there is something to delight everyone.
One of my favorite strips is Star Cat by James Turner, a serial tale of Captain Spaceington and his unlikely crew as they wander the universe aboard the Space Cat. It's a surreal and hilarious tale, and I look forward to reading it every week.
Another great one is Corpse Talk by Adam Murphy. Only two pages long, it follows an intrepid interviewer as he chats with undead historical figures like Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Cleopatra, Amelia Earhart, and more. Far from scary (or boring), the strip digs up facts in an interesting setting.
There are also other fantastic stories like the jurassic/pirate epic Pirates of the Pangaea, and the comedic Bunny vs Monkey. For a complete list of stories that you can find in The Phoenix, check out the magazine's website.
I also enjoy the contents outside the comic stripes, like the puzzles and the drawing tutorials. They may not be interactive, but it's actually a good opportunity to let kids do things outside their iPads every once in a while. The competitions also look fun, although it is a shame that some are open to UK only.
The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic is a delightful app that I think would fit juniors ages 9 and up. The quality of the artwork and storytelling in the comic strips are unfailing, and I like how there is little gore and violence in the stories.
The app also gives you nice features to read comfortably, like informative pop-ups, the ability to zoom individual panels, and star pages as favorites.
All in all, it's a friendly app to introduce juniors to the world of comic books, and to encourage them to read. Highly recommended.
The Phoenix Weekly Story Comic is available for iPad
Get it on the App Store: iPad
App was purchased by us.