Symbolia’s new iPad App Explores the Concept of Comics Journalism

symbolia Given the recent, public, and messy death of The Daily, some would say that launching a new digital-only publication is a rather public form of  suicide.

Symbolia is planning to prove that idea wrong. They launched their new magazine app earlier this month, and it brings a novel illustration style to the iPad.

It’s called comics journalism, unlike other parts of the news industry (which I hope is only unintentionally comedic) Symbolia uses a writing and illustration style which is closer to graphic novels than it is to news which you are used to reading.

Here’s a screenshot from the debut issue. As you can see, Symbolia offers a much more visual representation of their stories than pretty much anyone other of National Geographic.

A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, but that doesn't actually mean that you have to use photos.
A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, but that doesn’t actually mean that you have to use photos.

Interesting, no?

At first glance you might think the visual style is being used as filler to hide shallow writing, but I’ve been reading the debut issue (free in iTunes) and I don’t think that’s the case.

The screen shot above comes from an article on California’s Salton Sea. The article includes details about the past, present, and possible futures of that landlocked body of water. I would describe it as being as informative as any other article I’ve read today.

symbolia 4That article also includes audio clips from several interviewees as well as an interactive map which adds a different perspective on the general area surrounding the Sea.

Symbolia is going to release 6 issues a year, with each issue consisting of 3 to 5 stories. That gives some qualities in common with Marco Ament’s The Magazine, in that both publications are starting small in order to focus on producing a few great rather than The Daily‘s dozens of mediocre stories.

Here’s a demo video which shows the app in action.

Future plans include apps for Android as well as the the Kindle Fire, but for now there is just the iPad app. The sample issue is also free, but a subscription will set you back $12 a year for 6 issues.



Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

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