Back in the 1930s, the very first comic books were collections of newspaper comics. The genre continues to be popular, but the trend over the past 40 years or so has been toward big books collecting a lot of strips (think The Doonesbury Chronicles, or the fat archival collections published by IDW and Fantagraphics). Now comes Udig, a new imprint featuring shorter collections of popular newspaper comics.
Udig is the product of two separate divisions of Andrews McMeel Universal: Andrews McMeel Publishing, which focuses on print books, and Universal UClick, which syndicates comics to a number of platforms, from computers to mobile devices; UClick was one of the first publishers of comics for cell phones, back when screens were small and phones were dumb (2006). Andrews McMeel has the publishing reach, while Universal UClick has lots of content and experience with mobile platforms.
The new line launches with 12 e-books from four different creators; three are newspaper comics (LuAnn, Non Sequitur, and Savage Chickens), while the fourth is a prose anthology called News of the Weird. Each sells for $2.99. I bought the Kindle edition of The Non Sequitur Guide to Finance to check it out. The book contained 55 single-panel Non Sequitur comics, which is decent value for the money (although one of the cartoons appeared twice). The book was formatted for large-screen devices, Amazon warned me, and it looked great on my iPad (using the Kindle app), both with one cartoon per page, in portrait mode, and two cartoons side-by-side in landscape. It was also a comfortable read in the Kindle app on my Nexus 7 tablet, although the landscape mode was fairly small.
My local paper carries Non Sequitur, so I can read these cartoons for free, but Udig adds value in two ways. One is curating the comics by theme—there were also collections based on aging and “The System,” and the other e-books seem to have similar thematic arrangements. The other is that it is more pleasant to read comics—particularly Non Sequitur, which has a rather cramped style—in the larger format. The comics are also available on the Nook, iTunes, Google, and Kobo platforms.
A former book editor and newspaper reporter, Brigid Alverson started MangaBlog to keep track of her daughters¹ reading habits and now covers comics and graphic novels for Comic Book Resources , School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Robot 6, and MTV Geek. She also edits the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. Brigid was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards. Send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org