Reading paper comics is fun, but if you want to take comics with you on your laptop, or read your favourite titles on your computer’s huge display, you need a solid desktop comic reader. This week we’re looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.
ComicRack is a free, feature-packed comic reader for Windows. It made the roundup the last time we looked at your favourite desktop comic readers, and it was a popular nominee this time around as well. The app supports and can export almost any comic book file, and also supports image viewing through ZIP, RAR and 7z archives so you don’t have to unpack them first. The app has a customisable, three-paned interface to let you navigate through files and folders inside the app, browse your comics in one pane, and read pages in another. You can even full-screen the app to read in a more immersive view. Another feature that makes ComicRack stand out is that you can collect your favourite comics together in collections, pack them up as a CBZ file, and export the archive so it’s readable on other devices. ComicRack even allows you to share your comic library over your home network so you can go to another room and pick up where you left off.
Those of you who nominated ComicRack praised it for its library management features, which make organising and collecting your comics as easy as reading them. The reader can also be used to catalogue your paper comic collection, and can sync with its Android or iOS apps for on-the-go comic reading.
SimpleComic is a free option for OS X that’s easy to install, lightweight, and simple to use. If you’re looking for a basic comic reader that supports both windowed and full-screen comic views, this is your reader. The app scales your pages to the size of the window when not in full-screen, supports Quick Look in OS X, so you can peek through the comic before you settle in to read it, and automatically saves your place when you stop reading. The app also supports translation and other notes left in the metadata. The app can handle just about any comic book archive format you can think of, along with ZIP, RAR and 7z archives. It’s also open source, so you can contribute and get involved with the project yourself at its GitHub page.
MComix (Windows, Linux)
MComix is an updated fork of the Comix project, a comic reader that made the top five the last time we looked at the best desktop comic readers. Comix stopped development a few years back, while MComix has been updated with a few new tricks, bug fixes and stability improvements. It still supports ZIP, RAR, 7Zip, LHA or tar/gz/bz2 archives (as well as any old folder full of plain image files), and it brings lots of great features to the table.
The reader was designed to handle sequential images in a simple interface that works really well for comic books. All of the pages run down the left side of the screen, and a large pane on the right shows you the current page. MComix is lightweight, free, open-source and gets the job done. Comix does require Python, PyGTK+ (or another GTK+ framework), and the Python Imaging Library (PIL) installed on your system before it will run. Some package managers already include Comix, so installing it may be a terminal command away on your Linux system. Windows users can just fire up the installer and go.
Astonishing Comic Reader (Chrome)
The only Chome app in the roundup, Astonishing Comic Reader is actually cross-platform and works just about everywhere Chrome does. There is also a Windows 8 app, but those of you who nominated Astonishing Comic Reader specifically called out the Chrome app. The reader supports CBZ and CBR comics (there’s a beta version in testing in the Google+ community right now that supports PDF comics). There’s a a night mode for reading in the dark, offline support (so just because it’s a Chrome app doesn’t mean you have to be online all the time), and a simpler user interface that lets you use Chrome to read your comics the same way you would use it to browse the web. Astonishing Comic Reader also has an Android app, which also has Chromecast support so you can read your comics on virtually any screen, large or small. Plus, it’s completely free, and ad-free.
MangaMeeya hasn’t been updated in a while, but it’s still a great option for Windows users looking for a comic reader. The reader is (and has been) maintained by fans at Manga Underground, although its origins are a little mysterious. Regardless of where the original utility was born, the program works especially well for manga fans, who often have to deal with translation notes and need to read from right to left (the way the original manga is published).
That isn’t to imply that MangaMeeya is only good for manga. The app is a great comic reader and image viewer for all images, and allows you to read multiple pages at once, customise key commands to browse images, and works just fine as a sequential image viewer even if you’re not reading comics or manga. MangaMeeya also supports image browsing through RAR and ZIP archives, and can unpack them to a folder as well.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favourite comic reader, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Tell us your reasons in the comics.