Bonus Wednesdays I highlight something outside of my works that are worth reading or knowing about.
With the arrival of the iPad and Kindle Fire there are many excellent ways to read digital comics and I’ve published on all of them and tested them out. So I thought I’d share my experiences.
In addition to these application platforms, http://thrillbent.com/ has been doing amazing work with what a digital comic can do that a print comic can’t do, but they are limited to the web.
This is the cadilac of viewing experience. New releases of all the major and minor comic companies and thousands of independents make this the must use app. This app by itself has become the digital equivalent of the newstand from yesteryear.
You can view whole pages or flip from panel to panel. If you have a series, it links to the next book. You can zoom WAY in and get amzaing detail. Some digital only titles have even more features like audio. The app is easy to use and available on every platform – although it’s catalog is so huge and it’s search mechanism so clunky, that it’s hard to find books after you’ve been collecting for awhile.
The downside is that you don’t own the books. You purchase them and download them, but you don’t own them. They are only readable in the app, and comixology controls the files. Much like Amazon’s Kindle, books can be changed or removed. A bigger downside is that Amazon bought them so now you can’t do in app purchases. You have to go to the comixology website to buy comics and then sync the app. You can subscribe to series (think of it as a pull list) and your books will be auto purchased and ready for you on release day, without having to go to the website (which is clunky).
These are new guys on the block and they are going with a Netflix model. You pay a monthly fee and you get unlimited access to their catalog of comics. Some are free without paying. The reader is smooth and available on Android and iPad.
You don’t own the books and the selection is mostly independents but it’s wonderful to have unlimited browsing. Given that it’s cheaper than 3 store bought comics per month, it’s a bargain. You do need to be online to use it, a potential problem.
Edit: The app needs to be online only to download, but not to read.
Using the same model as Comicsfix, Marvel unlimited gives you access to unlimited Marvel comics for a monthly fee. The downside is that the titles are older and the sets are sporadic. They are constantly adding them, but it’s easy to run into gaps in a run. They do release new comics about 6 months after they are in the stores. Ive found this a great way to check out series I might not have thought worth buying, or read books I sorta like just to catch up on tie in stories. I discovered Young Loki this way and it’s been a delight. The search feature is excellent as you can search by character, series, creator. It’s a great way to discover comics. I’ve read all of the Agents of Atlas and Runaways this way, without the relaunches and guest appearences being overlooked.
Worse, I run into an occasional comic that just won’t load. Really annoying when you’re reading a series and one out of twelve won’t load. The reader has some UI issues too, it’s based on the ComiXology app, but seems less responsive. I have a hard time getting OUT of a book because the UI to exit hides and it’s hard to trigger. Also, you can only have a dozen books downloaded at a time, or else you need internet connection and te connection is slow on downloads compared to other apps. It’s worth the money if you’re a Marvel fan and not worried about getting books as they come out.
Kindle has a small set of graphic novels and the size of the download limits for Kindle make for less crisp art. There aren’t any special adaptions for comics. It’s the worst platform for graphic novels, but the Amazon web site makes them easy to find.
EPUB, PDF, and CBZ files
These are self published and small press books found on a variety of sites. You own the files and most of them are not copy protected. There are a variety of readers and every platform has a PDF reader. CBZ files are harder to find good readers, but there are many out there, most free. EPUB is astandard format for Kindle so Kindle apps or Kindle devices will read them. Scanned books also fall into this category, but really, why steal comics? The largest legitamate clearing house for PDF comics is DriveThruComics. The site is a little clunky to use, but the prices are great and there are often sales. Many small publishers have started joining along with tons of independents.
I wrote this a few weeks ago and since then all of the digital comic readers have released updates that have significant improvements. More importantly, Thrillbent released a new app that supports Thrillbent’s ground breaking digital comics as well as working as an excellent CBZ & PDF reader.
Want to read some good digital books? Our Super Mom is on all of these platforms.
And Hardcase is on ComicsFix!