Not long ago, it was believed that the ebook would prevail over the paper book in the same way that the MP3 was imposed on the CD or that, later Netflix was imposed on the DVD. But that ‘sorpasso’ has never happened, largely due to the importance of the ‘paper touch’ factor. And comics – a particular category of books, after all – have been no exception in that sense..
However, that does not mean that the digital comic does not have its quota of users, and even its small ecosystem of software and platforms: it has its own file formats, with its reading programs and collection organization, and with its own reference download sites.
CBR, CBZ, CBT
In the same way that ebooks -although we can find many of them in the ubiquitous PDF- have their own file formats (Epub, Djvu, Mobi, Lit, etc.), digital comics also have their own: CBR, CBZ and, to a lesser extent, CBT, CB7 and CBA.
Although, perhaps, it would be more correct to speak of ‘file extensions’, and not of formats, since all three types correspond to widely used file packaging and / or compression formats: CBRs are nothing more than RAR files; the CBZ, ZIP; the CBT, TAR; the CB7, 7z; and the CBA, ACE.
Its peculiarity is that, if we choose to open them with WinRAR or some similar program, we will only find numbered image files in them (pag1.jpg, pag2.jpg, etc, for example) to allow reading ordered by pages in specific viewers for digital comics.
With what programs can we open digital comics?
CDisplay Ex: CDisplay Ex is probably the most popular digital comic viewer for Windows. It has a wide range of keyboard shortcuts to make it easier to read, and it is even compatible with devices like Leap Motion. It also stands out for using a resizing technology that guarantees a smooth rendering of the pages. It has a ‘manga mode’, which allows you to view Japanese comics from back to front.
MComix: MComix is an open source comic viewer very similar to the previous one, and the best option for those of you who are Linux system users (although it is also available for Windows). It stands out for its customizable interface and its support for bookmarks.
ComicRack: Although the famous Caliber ebook viewing and organizing software is compatible with these comics as well, you may want to manage both collections separately. That’s where ComicRack comes in, a versatile program that allows you to open multiple comics in their respective tabs, fill in the form data of each of them and keep track of our reading progress. Working in combination with the homonymous mobile app, it will also allow us synchronize the collection of comics from our PC and our smartphone.
STDUViewer: If you don’t want to install a viewer for each kind of document you handle, and you want a free and lightweight software that allows you to view PDFs as well as ebooks and digital comics, STDUViewer will be your favorite option. Another quite similar option is Sumatra PDF.
Where can we download digital comics?
Comixology:– Comixology is a digital comic store bought by Amazon a few years ago, in it we can find the US editions (that is, almost always in English) of the major publishers of the sector (Marvel, DC, Image), in addition to small independent publishers. It has a section of free comics, and another of ‘bundles’ (packs on sale).
ReadDC.com: The DC publishing house (Superman, Batman, Watchmen …) has its own online store, also with its American editions, with a section of free comics.
Marvel Digital Comics: The same goes for the Marvel publishing house (Avengers, Spiderman, X-Men, Pato Howard …) and its free comics section.
Cimoc: The Spanish publisher Norma also has a specific online store for digital comics, although with a reduced catalog … although it does house almost twenty free comics.
Lektu: Lektu is a Spanish platform for the online sale of books, ebooks, audiobooks, podcasts and digital comics. We can find many comics with payment options as rare as “social payment” (We pay by publishing a link to the purchased item on our social profiles) ** or the “pay if you like it” ** (you have the option to pay voluntarily after downloading the work).
PanelSyndicate: PanelSyndicate is a platform that allows authors of digital comics (digital origin, not digitized afterwards) to sell their work … of their own free will. Indeed, you can pay € 0 for them if you feel like it (stretch a little, go). All the comics it offers are, at least, in English and Spanish.
ComicBookPlus: ComicBookPlus is a huge repository of scanned comics published before the 1960s, which according to US law places them in the public domain, so access to them is free. It has a section of comics in Spanish. Another very similar and equally recommended resource is the Digital Comic Museum.
More: On the occasion of the current coronavirus quarantine, the Tebeosfera Cultural Association has prepared a complete list of digital comic download resources.
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Main Image | Detail of the cover of ‘Marvels # 4’, by Alex Ross (Marvel / Disney)