Best Comic File Readers

Experience Comics on your iPad

Overview

The iPad’s size and excellent screen make it the perfect venue for reading digital comics. Recognizing this, developers have created many apps designed to display comic book file formats such as cbz and cbr. It can be daunting (and expensive) to sift through all the comic apps, so we’ve narrowed it down the best of the best Western comic readers below (i.e., Manga isn’t part of this AppGuide).

Essential Apps

  • $4.99

    Comic Zeal Comic Reader

    by Bitolithic Pty Ltd

    Comic Zeal Comic Reader is the gold standard of comic file readers, because it renders the images nearly flawlessly. The recent update to version 5 added an entirely new organizational structure that is somewhat confusing at first, but is ultimately an improvement. Comic Zeal is the fastest of the comic apps, as it does not have lag time when images are zoomed or with page turns, possibly because it automatically converts each file into a propriety format when transferred to the iPad. The reading experience is enhanced by multiple display options, including tap or pinch to zoom, keeping the same zoom setting when you turn a page, and “assisted panning” which helps you read a page when zoomed. The price tag may seem hefty, but for those with a lot of comic files it’s worth it.

  • Free

    SideBooks

    by Tatsumi-system Co., Ltd.

    SideBooks is a great free option for comic files, pdfs, and ebooks. It is notable for including in-app dropbox integration. The app supports double tap and pinch to zoom, locks your zoom setting, renders images faithfully, displays two pages when you flip to landscape, and has organizational options such as folders and renaming files. The only flaw is that is slightly slow to turn pages (especially multiple pages), and takes time to sharpen a zoomed image.

  • Free

    CloudReaders pdf,cbz,cbr

    by Cloud Readers

    Cloud Readers is essential because it is a solid app that displays comics well and is simple to use. The interface is utilitarian and there aren’t many options, but the app is reliable and dependable. Put simply, Cloud Readers is a very useful app to have in your arsenal. It is not as full-featured as dedicated comic apps like ComicZeal, but you can’t beat the price, and it also doesn’t have the stability or transfer issues of some of the other apps on this list.

Notable Apps

  • $2.99

    PDF/Comic Reader Bookman Pro for iPad

    by MobiRocket, Inc.

    Bookman Pro for iPad displays comic files well and includes a handy integrated web browser. The app, however, falls short of the top category for two main reasons: (1) it lacks sharpness with lower quality or heavily zoomed images, and (2) it does not keep your zoom setting when you turn a page. Bookman Pro’s interface is visually appealing but lacks the ability to display a group of files as a series on the library home screen.

  • Free

    ComicBookLover for iPad

    by Bitcartel Software

    ComicBookLover for iPad is the iOS version of the long-standing Mac comic viewer and organizer of the same name. Files can be added using an associated Mac app, via iTunes, and/or an integrated FTP function. The app displays all files well, but it lacks the sharpness found in the essential apps, as the edges of words and images can appear slightly soft or fuzzy.

  • Free

    GrassGames' Comic Reader

    by GrassGames

    GrassGames’ Comic Reader earns its placement solely for its ability to display comic books crisply and without any of the fuzziness of the apps in the lower category. The app is very barebones and lacks many settings and organizational options. It does, however, keep your zoom setting between page turns and is responsive.

Decent Apps

  • Free

    Stanza

    by Lexcycle

    Stanza has always been a favorite Mac and iOS ebook and comic book reader, but the update to iOS 5.0 seems to have created some stability issues, as the app froze several times when trying to display comics. Hopefully the next update will correct these issues, as Stanza has always been a solid, well-executed option for reading.

  • $3.99

    Comic Reader!

    by Obsidian Arts Limited

    Comic Reader! adds a unique feature to the category, an integrated RSS reader with preloaded comic book-related feeds. Unfortunately, comic books look fuzzy in the app and have excess noise when compared with other apps, and Comic Reader! even reordered the pages of one file without any warning!

  • $9.99

    iComic Viewer HD

    by kukfa

    iComic Viewer HD is frustrating to use, because it requires users to manually “extract” files transferred via iTunes, delete the original file, and then open the new file and allow the app to “optimize” each page as you read. It will keep the zoom between page turns and may have other settings, but the interface is a deal breaker.

  • $8.99

    ComicBookPad

    by Developica

    ComicBookPad also requires manual importing of files and generates a cache when you load a comic, but the process is not so arduous that it’s a deal-breaker. The real flaw is that ComicBookPad softens the images so that the comics look very soft and fuzzy.

  • $1.99

    FineViewerHD

    by GRock Information Inc.

    Fine Viewer HD is another app downgraded due to interface issues. It won’t display the standard comic book file format of cbr and cbz, but instead requires all file extensions to be changed to “.rar” or “.zip” files prior to transferring them to the app. This additional step is so annoying and unnecessary as to warrant an entire category downgrade. More, the app has nothing substantial to raise it above any of the other apps in the genre.

  • $1.99

    eBookMobi

    by Tien Thinh Vu

    eBookMobi is an ebook app that also displays comic files such as cbz and cbr. However, there are few if any functions or options useful for reading comics. For example, there is no ability to zoom pages or resize them, which makes the app nearly unusable. This is a shame, as the comics look excellent and have none of the fuzziness of some other apps.

Other Apps