Comic Life for iPad: Turn your photos into comics

This endlessly entertaining app lets you design custom comic book pages using your own photos as the artwork. It's especially great for iPad 2 owners.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

With the new Comic Life app for iPad, anyone can star in a personalized comic book.
With the new Comic Life app for iPad, anyone can star in a personalized comic book. Plasq

For the first time since it was announced, I officially want an iPad 2. Why? So I can snap photos with it and instantly turn them into cool, custom comic books with Comic Life ($7.99).

A camera-equipped iPad isn't a requirement, of course, just a convenience. The app, based on the award-winning Mac program of the same name, works with any photos on any iPad, regardless of how they got there. And it's really, really cool.

As you've probably guessed from the name, Comic Life enables you to create comic book pages using photos as your artwork. The app comes with various templates to get you started, but you can also design a layout from the ground up using the backgrounds and colors of your choice.

For any given page, you can add and arrange all the usual comic book elements: text, captions, shapes, and your choice of a dozen kinds of word balloon--each with a "tail" you can size and position to your liking.

Comic Life's design tools, most of them of the tap-to-select and drag-to-resize variety, are easy to learn and use. A double-tap brings up an object's context menu or enables you to enter text. And if you use multiple fingers, you can move multiple objects simultaneously.

When you're done with your comic, you can e-mail it, print it (assuming you have an AirPrint-compatible printer), share it on Facebook, or even copy it to other Comic Life-equipped iPads (via a new Tray feature I wasn't able to test).

The app could use a little fine-tuning. For example, after viewing some help pages (which load in Safari) and returning to the app, I found I could no longer select any of my objects. I exited and restarted the app, at which point it crashed. Only by manually shutting it down and restarting could I get back to editing. (This was a reproduceable glitch, by the way--it happened three times.)

Those minor bugs aside, Comic Life is loads of fun, especially for iPad 2 users who can generate new photos on the fly.