I’ve been a comic book collector for about 10 years. I have a closet filled with long boxes stuffed to the max with bagged-and-boarded titles that I’ve loved through the years. While nothing beats the feeling of thumbing through 44 pages of glossy print comic books, I also love to sit down with my iPad to read the digital version, especially for comics that are out of print or hard to find.
Today, we’ve got a list of the best apps for comic book lovers. I did not include any readers by the majors because those are obvious. This list digs a bit deeper into comic fandom with DRM-free readers, manga finders, games, comic creation apps, and more.
Comics by ComiXology
I know I said I wasn’t going to include comic readers from the majors, but I can’t talk about the subject without including this app. It seriously is the go-to place for buying titles from DC, Marvel, IDW, Disney, and more. You really can’t be a digital comic buyer without having this app in your arsenal. If you are just getting into reading comic books, ComiXology also features a wide variety of free first issue titles so you can test the waters to find out what you want to get into. This app is available for free.
This app is, hands-down, the best comic reader for all of your DRM-free titles. You can import your entire collection via Wi-Fi, DropBox, iCloud Drive, AirDrop (OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 only) and iTunes file sharing. Once imported, you can organize your comics any way you like. The app automatically sorts comics into series so it is easier to find what you are looking for. Plus, you can move series inside others, create dividers, reorder comics, and create reading lists. You can even set locks on an entire series so your young ‘uns can read My Little Pony while you keep Kick-Ass under lock and key. This app is available for $4.99.
Fans of Japanese comics can delight in the ability to download tens of thousands of manga titles in the palm of their hands. This app generates digital content from MangaReader, MangaFox, and MangaEden with more than 10,000 books to choose from. You can read as much as you want while connected to Wi-Fi, but you can only download one book at a time for offline reading. For an additional in-app purchase of $4.99, you can download as many titles as you want for offline reading. This app is available for free.
Madefire Comics & Motion Books
Gone are the days of boring old stationary comic panels. With digital technology, you can bring your favorite super heroes to life, right on the pages of the book. Motion comics add to the adventure by including sound effects (Wiff! Bam! Pow!), music, 360-degree viewing angles within a panel, and characters flying in from off of the page. It isn’t quite a movie experience, but it turns your comics into action. This app includes traditional comics from the majors and a few independent distributors, like IDW, Top Cow, Oni Press, and more. Plus, you can read motion comics from your favorite super heroes, like Batman, Superman, Transformers, and even My Little Pony. This app is available for free.
The kids these days are all getting into web comics. Web comics may not be collector’s items 20 years in the future, but they still have the unique and interesting style of independent comic books. This app brings together the best online daily, weekly, and intermittent comic strips in one convenient location. Access archived comics from days gone by without having to pay up to read content. Archives are organized chronologically with thumbnail previews. Swipe across the screen to read the next strip in a series. Find out what’s new with the notification tab. Read nearly 40 of the most popular web comics series around. This app is available for free.
Official Comic-Con App
You can’t consider yourself a true comic book fan until you’ve attended at least one convention. The king of all cons, Comic-Con International, takes place in San Diego every summer. If you are willing to make the dangerous trek to Southern California this July, be sure to have the official app at your side. It includes event schedules, a map of the convention center with a floor plan of the exhibitor hall, a list of special guests, detailed information on events, and more. You’ll have to wait until it gets closer to Comic-Con to get new info updates, but you can still download the app now to be ready for the big day. This app is available for free.
The Walking Dead: The Game
One of the most popular independent comic books was made into one of the most popular cable television shows, which was then developed into one of the most popular iOS games, which you can experience the first episode of both the first and second season for free. Fans of the original comic by Robert Kirkman will enjoy the storyline and writing style of this game. Fans of the television series will enjoy the adventure. Fans of mobile gaming will appreciate the unique game mechanics. It is fun for everyone. Not really, though. It is rated for mature gamers due to graphic violence and strong language. The first episode of season one and season two are available for free.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
If you’ve always wanted to see who would win in a fight, Superman or Batman, now is your chance. This combat game lets you fight the entire DC universe with a vast array of both super heroes and villains. Pit The Flash against Shazam or Green Arrow against Green Lantern. Unlock new heroes to add to your roster as you battle in three-on-three combat rounds. As your heroes fight, they will learn new moves and become stronger. Go online and fight against real opponents to see who has the toughest team. This game is available for free.
Every comic book fan, at least once in his or her life, has dreamed of becoming a famous writer or artist. If you fancy yourself a master of the art of illustration, this app will make your digital dreams come to life. The iPad version features 120 brushes, advanced layering, a realistic brush stroke creator, and much, much more. The recently launched iPhone version, Procreate Pocket, uses the same 64-bit Silica engine, advanced layering, and comes with 12 brushes with the ability to import custom brushes from the Internet. You can begin working on the iPhone and transfer your project to the iPad to finish the details. The iPhone version costs $2.99 and the iPad version costs $5.99.
Comic Life 3
Once you’ve created the artwork for your own comic, transfer your images to this template app to create a full-fledged comic book, complete with panels. Or, if you are less of an artist and more of a wordsmith, you can take pictures of your friends acting out scenes from your super hero story and then transform them into a comic book. No drawing talent required. You can choose from dozens of templates and add filters to create that illustrated look. Add word and thought balloons to fill out the pages. Use smart shapes to add objects and remove unwanted backgrounds with the Instant Alpha tool. This app is available for $4.99.
Are you a comic book reader? What is your favorite digital reading app?