Updated on December 10, 2021
A newer version of this post is available here.
Given my cross-platform and multiple operating system device usage, I have a fair amount of interest in software that’s compatible across multiple “eco-systems,” or “walled gardens” if you prefer. When this isn’t possible, I’ll just use the best native software available for each device.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the best digital comic readers I’ve found for reading comics on various operating systems.
Cloud-based digital comics services
Comixology has the advantage of being cloud based, and thus has various versions of its apps (or web access) across almost all of the platforms listed below. The downside, historically, has been Comixology’s devotion to DRM, though this has finally eased up for most of the larger non-DC/Marvel comic companies. Therefore, I can feel more confident in recommending Comixology, assuming one has an interest in non-Big Two (Marvel/DC) comics.
I’ve also written about alternatives to Comixology’s service. The main one I use is Google Play.
Other recent alternatives include read-only digital comics subscription services, similar to Netflix. Scribd, Comixology Unlimited, and Marvel Unlimited are the main such alternatives. I use Marvel Unlimited, which for reading Marvel is a very good deal.
My traditional stand-alone comic reader for Android has been Perfect Viewer, which I’ve written about previously. One of the older and better comic readers for Android, Perfect Viewer’s controls are still a bit odd (and geared toward manga), but it works well.
An alternative viewer I’ve used is ComicRack, which works well and has a nicer user interface than Perfect Viewer’s. The free version comes with ads; the paid version, while costing $7.89, will lose the advertisements, and add a few other features.
Since I don’t own an iPad, I haven’t tried any iOS comic reader apps myself. However, a popular one I’ve seen recommended is Comic Zeal, which costs $5.
My Mac comic reader software of choice is Simple Comic, which easily handles various comic files.
My Linux comic reader of choice is MComix, a fork of the older Comix reader. MComicx incorporates Comix’s features, and adds a few newer ones.
I’ve tried a few comic readers for my Chromebook, but I’ve found them all lacking. This is probably tied to one of the weaker areas of Chrome OS, its handling of ZIP files. As such, CBZ files don’t seem to work well, and even CBR files can be iffy.
Still, the one app I have installed is Astonishing Comic Reader, which seems reasonably popular.
The situation for comic readers has improved a lot in recent years, coinciding with the rise of mobile devices. The increasing number and easy availability of DRM-free digital comics, including from sales leader Comixology, also makes comic readers even more prominent.
Screenshot of Comixology’s main page. (Comixology / screenshot by author)