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.
Comics Plus (Android, iOS) is another digital comics platform where users can purchase and download digital comics. It comes with some neat extras that set it apart from other platforms. Comics Plus users can buy and read digital comics from a variety of publishers such as IDW, Archie Comics and DC, with uView enhanced reading technology to help guide your reading flow on a touch screen and in-app parental controls. You can import your own DRM-free comics into your personal collection, allowing you to view ePub, PDF, CBR and CBZ files with ease. Interestingly, you can also rent a graphic novel for 24, 48 or 120 hours.
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.
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.
An excellent iOS comic reader, Comic Zeal helps you sort your comics for easy reading. Material can be automatically sorted upon upload to your device, or manually sorted with Comic Zeal's "slider" interface. The app makes it easy to organize your content into whatever order you want and create your reading list right from the app itself. Not only is Comic Zeal great at organizing, but it's also a blast for reading, with numerous customizations for brightness, navigation, "smart zoom" and other features.