The world of comics has had to adapt to new technology and the changing ways we consume our favorite media. Just like books, comics have also gone digital, resulting in a proliferation of apps that allow users to read their favorite digital comics and organize their 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 some publishers have jumped into the one-stop comics marketplaces like Comixology, others have also put up their own gated digital storefronts, such as Dark Horse Comics' mobile app (Android, iOS), which functions as comics marketplace, download manager, and comics reader all rolled up into a single package. While the reader experience doesn't quite feel as polished as other apps, the Dark Horse comics app does feature a panel zoom reading mode and support for right to left reading modes. In addition to the paid comics available in the marketplace, Dark Horse also offers numerous free #1 and introductory issues that serve as free samples and teasers for its rich library of comics series.
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.
ComicRack is a desktop comic reader that made the jump to mobile with Android and iPad apps. Featuring outstanding library management, multiple read modes and customizations, ComicRack has more than just the basics covered. ComicRack supports CBR and CBZ formats natively, and, in conjunction with the desktop ComicRack reader, supports PDF, DJVU and other formats. Best of all, you can sync your collection, reading list and other content between the desktop and mobile apps, letting you organize and read on the go. That said, the mobile version of ComicRack is getting a little long in the tooth.