Beta Yourself: With some rad digital comics

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They’ve come a long way since forcing you to squint at crappy scans on a PC screen – Stuff reveals how to get started with comic apps and sites, and how to find a bargain.

The Basics

Get a tablet: You could read a comic on a PC (too bulky) or a phone (too small). But your best bet by far is a tablet – 10in or larger gives you enough space to comfortably read a standard US-sized comic, and even double-page spreads. Avoid E ink devices, unless you only love black and white comics. 

Dodge the lockdown: Digital comics come in two flavours: wrapped in DRM (digital rights management) or DRM-free. With the former, you’ll usually be locked to a single service or app, whether on a Netflix-like sub (which is fair enough) or buying single issues/volumes from a publisher (which is not). DRM-free comics can be read in any compatible app.

Delve into history: Comics didn’t explode into being with the Iron Man movie, and digital enables you to peruse the medium’s rich, long history. Check out the many public domain volumes on Archive, Comic Book Plus and Digital Comic Museum. For strip art, try GoComics where decades of Calvin and Hobbes are a click away.

Grab freebies: We’re not suggesting you download comics from dodgy sites – the more who do, the less likely that comics have a future. Instead, see how you like digital with legit freebies. 2000 AD’s store has some, and Comixology offers loads of issue-ones and specials. If you’re signed up to Amazon Prime, Prime Reading has a rotating selection of comics. 

Save a bundle: Digital comics are usually cheaper than the paper ones anyway, but if you’re canny you can net some serious bargains. Get on Humble Bundle’s mailing list – that site regularly offers virtual piles of DRM-free books for R280. Keep an eye on Comixology too, which has regular sales offering must-have collections for a few bucks a pop.

Make it Marvellous

Go unlimited: Want to fill those hours when you’re not watching Marvel movies with Marvel comics? Grab the Marvel Unlimited app, and for R170 a month you can delve into an archive bigger than Thanos’s jawline. Not sure? On Android you get some freebies; on iOS, there’s a week’s trial. 

Find lost classics: Want to head a bit off the Marvel app’s beaten track? Go to Reading Lists, tap Hidden Gems, and revel in the fantastical Silver Surfer, the wonderful Vision series, and Neil Gaiman’s 1602.

Head Online

Try Aces Weekly: From David V for Vendetta Lloyd, acesweekly.co.uk is a webcomic with seven-part volumes that costs R20 a week. The short episode lengths tend to make the pace of storytelling swift, but you get great material at a wallet-friendly price. 

Read web freebies: As monthly comic sales dwindle, more creators are publishing online prior to selling paper (and digital) collections. Stuff faves include Girl Genius and Atomic Robo.

Master the ‘ology

Download backups: Marvel and DC like DRM, but many other publishers don’t. Their book pages on Comixology will have a download symbol. Head to the My Books link, and from the Backups tab, grab CBZ or PDF versions of books you own.

Spread it: Comics designed to be read on paper often use double-page spreads. In Comixology, rotate your device sideways. If only a single page is shown, tap the comic, then the cog, and then Show Two Pages. 

Sync with Marvel: If you use the Marvel mobile app or website, you can sync your collection. On Comixology, click your name and select My Account. Under Marvel Sync, start the sync – but note that this can’t be reversed.

Get Animated

Check out Madefire: Motion comics get a bad rep, probably because most of them are rubbish. Madefire bucks the trend with well-considered animation and audio that enhances rather than detracts from the reading experience. 

Try Crunchyroll: Although perhaps best known as being a repository for more anime than any one human could conceivably hope to consume in a single lifetime, a Crunchyroll sub (R120/m) also gives you access to a ton of manga, including the likes of Attack on Titan.

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About Author

Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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