Monday, July 5, 2010

Zap-Kapow! Puts A Comics Guide In Your Pocket

The first issue of the Amazing Spider-Man, story by Stan Lee and art by Steve Ditko, trades for around $44,000. The Uncanny X-Men for $11,500. The Fantastic Four for $48,000. Batman for a cool $215,000. Superman for $440,000.

Those five comics also represent the top five trading titles, easily tracked from an iPhone app called Zap-Kapow! A Guide To Comic Books In Your Pocket. It puts popular titles and plenty of obscure ones in your pocket at all times. Even better, Zap-Kapow! allows you to add your own collection to a "have" list or "wish" list, making it easy to reference your collection if you collect more than a few dozens titles.

Each listing includes publisher, writer, price guide, and cover art. For the most part, obscurity is not a problem. Do you own the first edition of Trencher, which followed the zombie-like anti-hero named Gideon? How about the four issue mini-series "The Last American" by Alan Grant and Michael McMahon? Or maybe the gold foil cover edition of Supreme by Image Comics when they seemed to be pumping out new heroes every week? They are all there, cataloged and collected with cover art.

In fact, after looking over our editor's modest comic collection, Zap-Kapow seems to have an inclusion rate of 98 percent. Some are missing, but the developers admit to being human. App owners are welcome to let them know when there are problems.

Everything Isn't Perfect, But Zap-Kapow! Shows Promise.

Zap-Kapow! does have some setbacks. Sometimes it's slow to load, and inputting 100 comics in a single sitting will require you to shut down the application to refresh the app and give the server a rest. It's a by-product of everything being managed online. There are several other annoyances we hope will be resolved over time.

• The "have" list doesn't alphabetize the titles.
• The "have" list doesn't allow you to record multiple copies.
• The search feature doesn't include issue numbers.
• There is no desktop program to help you organize.
• You can't import, export, or back up your listing.

Phone Cases and Art PrintsAssuming the recent lapse in Zap-Kapow! Twitter updates doesn't indicate some terminal problems, some of the challenges are expected to be resolved with version 2.0. The mission is very much to make a move toward full collection management, which means toggling back and forth between the iPhone and any OSX Mac.

We're hopeful that will resolve the the lack of alphabetization function and the ability to toggle by title, artist, or publisher. Likewise, a more intuitive search function would be nice to avoid thumbing through the sometimes endless deaths and resurrections of various superheroes.

Zap-Kapow! Scores A 6.7 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

We'd love to give Zap-Kapow! a higher score. Maybe once version 2.0 is flushed out, we'll feel the earth move. Until then, even comic book collectors can expect only minor tremors after the initial excitement that someone finally did something worthwhile.

What does that mean? Compared to the rest of the mobile guide field, Zap-Kapow! is the best mobile guide out there. The only negative feedback among casual comic app buyers seems to be that the $2.99 app also costs 99 cents with every monthly update. (Initial purchases always include every update.)

When you consider how many comic listings have to be added every month and an advertising-free zone, we think the update rate is worth it. However, for anyone still interested in penny pinching, there is one cost-savings tip from app developers themselves: don't update monthly. Even if you update every three months, one update includes any month you missed.