The world of comics has adapted to new technology, which has changed ways we consume our favorite media. Just like books, comics have also gone digital, resulting in a proliferation of apps that let you read your favorite digital comics on the go and organize your electronic collections. From all-in-one marketplace and reader apps to lightweight readers and Web comic viewers, here are our 15 favorite mobile comic book readers.
ComiXology is one of the most popular digital comic platforms online, featuring content from major comics publishers such as Marvel, DC and Image, which readers can purchase and read from the ComiXology website. The company's mobile app, Comics (Android, iOS), also serves as an outstanding mobile comic reader, allowing users to download and read their ComiXology purchases. Of particular note is the Guided View mode, which is great for reading on a small screen, as well as a new Unlimited mode that works as a "read-all-you-can" subscription. On the downside, you can't import in an existing comics collection or make in-app purchases on iOS.
While digital comics have mostly tended to mirror their ink-on-paper predecessors, some companies have tried to experiment with the possibilities that the digital format provides. Madefire (Android, iOS, Windows) focuses on what it calls "motion comics", which combine visual effects, animated transitions, sound effects, and dynamic panels to deliver a more media rich digital comics experience. Madefire carries comics by DC, IDW, Top Cow and Dark Horse, with both free and paid content available for users to browse.
Rather than purchasing titles one by one, readers can instead access a treasure trove of issues from Marvel Comics' archives through the Marvel Unlimited (Android, iOS) app. Users can subscribe for $10 per month or $70 for a year, gaining access to more than 13,000 issues from a variety of classic titles from Marvel's archive, with new issues added weekly. It's not perfect, as users need to be online to access and read comics (users may bookmark up to 12 issues to read offline), but it's a great way for Marvel fans to binge read classic tales of the Marvel universe.
DC has also set up its own all-you-can read subscription service with DC Universe (Android, iOS). Not only does DC Universe offer a wide selection of comics from its catalog, but the app also allows you to stream animated series, movies, and live action adaptations of DC's many comic characters. And that's the bigger draw, to be honest, as the library of comics that you can stream or download for reading isn't as extensive as competing offerings from Comixology or Marvel.
Shonen Jump has a 50-year history of bringing some of the best manga to the reading public, pioneering the "shonen" style of action-oriented manga. It's home to such hits as My Hero Academia and Dragon Ball Super. The Shonen Jump app (Android, iOS) offers up a wealth of digital manga to its subscribers, with new chapters appearing weekly with full English translations, as well as a back catalog of more than 10,000 manga chapters, digital-exclusive series, and previews of paid manga volumes. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the price, with Shonen Jump recently reducing the cost of subscribing to its digital service to $1.99 per month to combat rampant piracy and encourage legitimate subscriptions.
Crunchyroll has been a streaming pioneer of Japanese anime, and it also provides an all you can read manga streaming service for its subscribers through the Crunchyroll Manga app (Android, iOS). Subscribers can view the entire catalogue, with series such as Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, and many more available in the app. Crunchyroll Manga uploads the newest issues as soon as they hit the streets in Japan.
Alternatively, why spend money on a digital storefront or subscription service if your local library has access to digital comics in its collection? Libby (Android, iOS) is the latest incarnation of Overdrive's popular digital media management system, allowing users to borrow ebooks and audiobooks, and yes, digital comics in supported formats from participating libraries. Simply sign in with your library card and then you can browse your library's digital media collection, allowing you to search for titles, set holds, borrow ebooks and audiobooks with a tap. You're also able to return or extend a lend just as easily. You can preview books from the app, downloading borrowed titles or stream them to your phone or tablet if you prefer to save space.