Bottom line: Tremendously fun comic strip creator with unlimited creative possibilities for ages 9+. Zoo-Wee-Mama for the masses with a Free Lite version too!
If you would like to channel you inner Trudeau or Schultz, you may download Comics Head ($3.99 iPad, $1.99 iPhone) or the Free Lite version using these links:
iPad Full: iPad Lite: iPhone Full:
Comics Head is an excellent, all-inclusive comic-making app that is perfectly suited for upper elementary students and above. Children today are well-versed in graphic novels, comic books and cartoons, and this app from NextWave Multimedia offers a creative composing opportunity using these elements.
Studies have shown that boys are often less interested and motivated to engage in traditional language arts activities, and this is showing up in test scores. Over the last 30 years, the U.S. Department of Education has reported each year that boys scored lower than girls on reading tests. The good news is that boys have shown more interest in non-traditional genres including comics. This app would be an excellent way to harness this interest, while also building on writing skills. There are many steps involved in composing a good comic, including graphic design, use of images, sequencing, word choice, and more. Using this app would encourage children to do all of this (and more) as they plan and create a comic.
Imagine a blank comic book, if you will. But before you panic because you think you can't draw, know that there are tons of resources including backgrounds, characters, props and speech bubbles. And when I say "tons", I mean it! When selecting a character, first you would select the style of comic, and then select the character (boy, girl, man, woman, etc.) and then select from among a few choices of that character (is she happy? Is she turned away?). There are indeed tons of options!
Moving beyond the characters, there are also design decisions including page layout, font style and colors. Again, imagine more options than you could think of using. And if you are an artist, there are many opportunities to use your own creations throughout, including hand-drawn items as well as photographed images. With a little experimentation, nearly anything is possible design-wise.
While these options mean that you can make just about any kind of comic, meme or storyboard, I would also say that the choices make it a bit overwhelming for a beginner like myself. This is when the templates come in handy. There are pre-designed comic strips or templates that are just missing the text. These would make great starters for young children, or those just beginning to experience the world of comics.
This app would be appropriate for independent use by strong readers and writers, probably 2nd graders and up. Younger children could enjoy this app with some adult modeling and supports from time to time. There is an in-app tutorial that walks the user through the resources and steps to making a comic. In addition, there is a link to the Comics Head YouTube channel that offers specific video help.
As with most apps, there are a few negatives. First, as I stated earlier, there is so much going on, that it takes a while to figure it out and learn just how the process works. In a classroom situation, this could be avoided through a few whole class teacher demonstrations. In addition, some of the language is not as child-friendly as other apps. For example, the box of resources is called "assets" and the props are called "themed art assets". Definitely difficult vocabulary for children to grasp. Finally, when typing, autocorrect formatting was frustrating, as it kept changing my daughter's incorrectly spelled message to a message she was not intending. This can potentially be discouraging to poor spellers or younger children with less spelling knowledge.
Overall, I think that Comics Head is an excellent choice when looking for ways to connect academic practices such as writing to fun-filled digital experiences. Creations can be saved and shared through all social media and even Air Printed. Beyond the traditional comics, the templates have samples of slides for presentations, invitations and announcements. This app does not have the animation or voice recording features of Toontastic, but it is just as fun, flexible and fully customizable at a very reasonable price.
Emily Culver Bigelow is a Doctoral candidate in Education in the lovely state of Tennessee where she spends much of her time thinking about how technology can best be used in schools.
smartappsforkids.com was paid a priority-review fee to complete this review in an expedited manner.