Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Get Through the Quarantine With These 15 Digital Comic Platforms

This post has been compensated by Inmar Intelligence. All brands and retailers mentioned herein are not affiliated with this promotion. All opinions are mine alone. #WeCreateItForward

The past few weeks have been difficult for all of us, and it looks like it's not going to get better any time soon. Like many introverts, I'm no stranger to staying home and finding ways to entertain myself. One of the things that has kept me going through all of this is digital comics. There are lots of different apps to stream comics - some of which are completely free - so I thought I'd share them with you.

comiXology & Amazon Kindle
One of the most well-known names in digital comics, comiXology was primarily a digital comics storefront until the launch of comiXology Unlimited in 2016. For about $6 a month, readers can explore thousands of digital comics, graphic novels, and manga from the biggest publishers in the business. Due to the current world situation, comiXology has extended the free-trial of their Unlimited service to 60 days.

comiXology was acquired by Amazon in 2014 and as such the two work together. You can use your Amazon account to access comiXology and Amazon Prime members can read comiXology Originals such as Stone Star for free on the Kindle app. comiXology is easily one of the best digital comics apps out there. I recommend Scott Pilgrim, and comiXology is the only place I’ve ever seen it digitally.

Hoopla, Libby, & Overdrive
One of the most overlooked sources of completely free comics is your local library. Well... except when they’re all closed. That's where these apps come in. Create an account and link it to your normal library card and instantly have access to thousands of digital goods. How much you can borrow varies from app to app, library to library - but the selections are phenomenal.

All three of these apps feature comics from major publishers including Marvel, DC, Image, BOOM!, and more. While I use all three apps, I prefer using Hoopla since it doesn't restrict borrowing items that other users have currently "checked out," but Overdrive and Libby have their own perks such as being able to read samples before you borrow a title.

Marvel Unlimited
The official home of the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers features over 27,000 comics from across Marvel's entire history for about $10 a month after a one-week free trial. But you don't even need to sign up to start reading! As of this writing there are 178 free comics. And they're not just all #1s. There're entire arcs of Captain America, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Avengers vs. X-Men, Civil War, and even the entire Dark Phoenix saga. There's also plenty of all-ages content including all of IDW's series from the past couple years - and 2 issues of M&Ms comics for some reason. And again - this is just the free stuff, subscribe to unlock thousands of other Marvel adventures new and old.

DC Universe
Launched in 2018, DC Universe is a streaming service created by Warner Bros. specifically for content related to the world of Superman, Batman, and all of their super friends. Primarily a host for new and classic live-action and animated movies and TV series. However, it also has comics and it's one of the biggest archives I've ever seen. Everything dating back to Action Comics #1 is there. That's insane. And the database is efficiently robust, allowing users to filter comics by era, character, length, even art style. and DC Universe is currently available for about $75 billed annually or $8 a month. I highly recommend Supersons, Gotham Academy, and the Batmanga.

Shonen Jump & Manga Plus
Looking for the world's most popular manga? Weekly Shonen Jump chapters are made available in Viz Media's official Shonen Jump app the same day they're released in Japan - for free! You can also access the entire Shonen Jump catalog for just $2 a month. Shueisha's Manga Plus app is available worldwide and provides similar content with other language options. I highly recommend Assassination Classroom, Bakumon, and World Trigger.

Graphite Comics
Launching last year, Graphite aims to be Netflix-Meets-Spotify-Meets-YouTube for Comics - an all-in-one destination for readers and creators. The selection features smaller publishers like Zenescope and Papercutz and a few bigger names like BOOM!, IDW, and Valiant. However, there is a fantastic amount of webcomics. Comics are available for free and supported by non-intrusive ads which can be removed for about $5 a month which also unlocks premium content. Graphite is one of the only apps on this list that gets comics to readers with as few steps as possible and it's one of the easiest ways for creators to get paid for their work.

Crunchyroll Manga
Crunchyroll is the #1 way to watch anime these days, and if you have a premium account to watch ad-free episodes as soon as they air in Japan - which is about $8 a month - then you also have access to their catalog of manga. The selection isn't large, but they do host some of the most popular shonen titles in recent memory including Attack on Titan, Fairy Tail, and The Seven Deadly Sins. Currently, I'm enjoying Action Mask, which is a more serious adaption of the tokusatsu series-within-a-series from Shin-chan.

Tapas & Webtoon
If you want something even less mainstream than indie comics from Image or Dark Horse, webcomics are where it's at. While most creators still host comics on their own sites, there are a handful of apps such as Tapas and Webtoon that put hundreds of webcomics in one place. Both encourage their creators to take advantage of the digital format and present comics in continuous, vertical scrolls instead of standard pages. Webcomics are home to some of the most unique and weirdest of creations - and they're all completely free.


Both a streaming service as well as a database and marketplace, Comichaus is the perfect place to scratch your indie itch. After a 14-day trial, a subscription fee of £3 a month (£30 a year) unlocks hundreds of comics you've never heard of across every genre. Half of all profits from the subscription fee and non-intrusive ads are split with the creators, making this one of the best ways to support indie creators.

Nanits Reader
One of the most unique comic reading experiences out there, Nanits splits up comic panels to create a dynamic scrolling effect where characters and word balloons float along as you scroll continuously. Pop in some headphones and enjoy atmospheric sound-effects and an original score tailored to each comic. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

That's fifteen apps for streaming and downloading digital comics, half of which are totally free. So whether you're looking for the most popular superheroes or undiscovered indies, you're bound to find plenty of titles to keep you entertained as the quarantine continues.