How to Read Comics in Windows 7

January 10, 2011, By Christian Cawley

There are many ways to enjoy comics, from the original (and perhaps best) paper booklet to mobile devices and computers. The transition from paper to digital media has been slow for comic books but with the popularity of high quality mobile devices (smartphones such as the iPhone, tablets such as the iPad) they have finally been welcomed into the digital age.

However there is a downside. Just as there is a vast number of MP3s and video clips available to be downloaded illegally thanks to the various file-sharing networks many comic books have been scanned and shared online. Others have been released by their publishers in digital format and shared online, something that has resulted in a reluctance by publishers (big names such as Marvel) to make comics available for download.

How to read comics in Windows 7

Where to Find Comics Online

Finding legal comics online can be tough – many copyrighted comics have been scanned and shared via the torrent network, something that has apparently hit the industry quite hard. Similarly, it is hard to find PDF comics to download.

The best places to find online comics are from the main comic book producers. Marvel has the Digital Comics series that can be read online without the need for a separate reader, for instance.

Meanwhile there are many sources online where you can download free and amateur comics:

  • www.lorencollins.net/freecomic/ – a collection of free comics available online
  • www.kasterborous.com/timeleech/ – a free Doctor Who comic (disclosure: written by article author)
  • www.wowio.com/ – a great place to get comics free by signing up to other offers
  • www.goldenagecomics.co.uk/ – free downloads of copyright-free comics from yesteryear
  • www.ugo.com/channels/comics/features/52pickup/default.asp – 52 is a new series from DC, and the first 5 issues are free!

Using ComicRack to Read Comics

Probably the best tool for reading comics in Windows 7 is ComicRack, a free application available from comicrack.cyolito.com. Once downloaded, the 7MB file can be quickly installed and will be ready to view any online comics that you might have on your PC. (Note that Microsoft .NET Framework 4 is required, and ComicRack will connect to Microsoft to download this).

Once installed and running, all you need to do is go to File > Open eComic and browse for the comic book files you have downloaded. These might be in PDF format or one of the popular comic book reader formats such as:

  • CBZ (a ZIP archive full of images in page order)
  • CBR (a RAR archive comprising of images in page order)
  • CBT (a TAR archive full of page images)
  • …and many more.

With ComicRack you can also add folders to your library of eComics, and scan for changes so that all of your digital comics can be easily found and viewed. Viewing a comic is easy, with page buttons and a smooth scroll and zoom function added to make the experience as pleasurable as possible.

This tool is easy to use and also features various plugins and extensions. If you enjoy using this software, remember that you can donate to the developer.

Other Free Comic Book Readers

Although it is a superb application, you might decide that ComicRack isn’t to your tastes – but don’t worry, other suitable software is available.

For instance, you might try WPF Comic Book Reader (wfpbookreader.codeplex.com) which can be used to view the usual CBZ/ZIP and CBR/RAR files and features various controls and in-page zoom and scroll functions.

Another popular choice is Comical (comical.sourceforge.net), which provides comic book viewing for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Sadly this application hasn’t been updated in several years but is still useful and supports CBZ/ZIP and CBR/RAR as well as displaying JPEG, PNG, GIF and TIF images.

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