Reading comics, particularly on tablets, is a delightful use of bright, vivid touchscreens. If you’re a heavy reader and want to bring your own files to Android, it’s hard to go wrong with Comic Rack.
- Visual library with cover art thumbnails
- Read and unread tracking
- Proceeds directly to next issue when done reading
- Single or double-page viewing
- Page thumbnails for easy skipping back and forth
- Brightness and colour adjustments
- Option to skip covers, editorials, letters, and other junk pages
- Sync with desktop app (full version only)
Where It Excels
ComicRack has one of the nicest-looking reading experiences while you’re in the book. On a tablet, it’s optimised to take advantage of every pixel available. It also supports pinch-to-zoom which makes navigating individual panels on small devices fairly easy. You can set bookmarks anywhere in any comic for future reference.
For the hardcore readers, ComicRack also includes colour and brightness adjustments so you can tailor your device’s display to your preferred reading experience. The app also includes search functions to track down whatever you’re looking for in your huge library. Syncing with the app’s desktop counterpart pushes it up the last little bit in to the top spot.
Where It Falls Short
As nice as the reading experience itself is, some of the peripheral UI isn’t all that attractive. Many of the buttons are ugly and can be difficult to hit on some devices. Pulling them up can be a little iffy, too. In order to pull up menus or the page thumbnail navigation, you have to tap anywhere while reading the comic. However, the swipe gestures are so sensitive that you may find yourself four pages from where you were before the menu appears.
If you want to read on the desktop and sync your place, you’ll pay a pretty hefty fee, too. The pro version of the app is nearly $7.49 and only adds synchronisation and removes ads. That’s an awful lot of money to pay for a single feature, but it’s arguably worth it for the comic fan with a library larger than their memory.
Choosing this app over the other options was difficult with Komik in the room. Nearly everything that ComicRack does wrong, Komik does well. It has a much cleaner-looking interface, tapping to pull up menus is smooth and reliable, and the ads are small and non-intrusive. Even if those ads bother you, it costs under $2 to get rid of them. Unfortunately, Komik lacks any kind of sync with other apps. If that doesn’t bother you (and you also don’t need super-customisable features such as colour adjustment), Komik is probably the way to go.
Also, these ignore the branded digital comic book stores that are available. Comics (from comiXology) is the broad, catch-all app that allows you to buy and read comics from DC, Marvel and a bunch of other publishers. For the fanboys and girls, specific DC and Marvel versions of the app are also available. Despite being nearly identical, it seems that the Marvel app is oddly siloed from the others and comics you buy won’t be available in Comics, while DC purchases will. This trio of applications offer fantastic reading experiences, but you can’t bring your own files, which is a huge downside for fans. If you don’t have your own collection already, this can be a good way to get started. Also, they regularly have excellent sales.
Honourable mentions also go to A Comic Viewer and Perfect Viewer. These two aren’t quite as feature-packed or as nice looking as ComicRack or Komik, but they’re fairly straightforward and support a much wider range of formats.
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