I love comics. I love my iPad. And I love comics on my iPad even more. I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time downloading and trying out the seemingly endless different comic apps on the iPad. Below are my conclusions.
Why read comics on the iPad? You can bring a thousand of them with you at once if you want. When the pages are lit up on the iPad somehow it makes them look even better. And you don’t need to worry about creasing one of the pages and lowering the value like you do with a physical comic book.
Note: The apps I’m talking about here are for those who have comic files they want to read on the iPad. If you want an app where you can buy the comics the hands down best is obviously Comixology. But if you’ve got some .cbr or .cbz files you want to read your best options are…
Best of the Best
Price: Free (with extras you can purchase, but that are genuinely not needed)
Chunky Comic Reader is the gold standard of comic readers. There are other quality readers out there but Chunky combines great options and a beautiful and intuitive user interface, and unlike a number of others, it’s not buggy. And of course every page looks super sharp.
There’s no lag and it opens any comic file type smoothly.
It supports cloud services like Box, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, or comics downloaded straight off of the internet in your iPad’s safari browser. It not only auto detects comic series based one title and groups them together for you (some of the others do that too), it also has nice touches like automatically matching the border colour for each page to the comic, so you don’t have an extra border around the page on the extra space on the screen pulling you out of the experience.
And equally important is that the app developer updates it regularly and listens to and responds to user feedback so you can know that it will stay a top of the line app for a long time.
And yes, it is free. You can pay a one time fee to access a few extra features but they aren’t at all necessary to enjoy the app. I eventually bought the extras, but only because I figured I loved the app and used it so much I wanted to give the developer a few bucks as a thank you anyways.
The only downside to Chunky is that there isn’t more of it. By that I mean, unlike some other comic reader apps it is only for iPad, it’s not also on iPhone. But let’s be honest, once you’ve read a comic on a beautiful iPad screen a phone screen just seems too small anyways. As a backup I have the iComix app my iPhone but honestly I never use it.
iComix is a great app. Just like Chunky you can load comics from a variety of cloud services as well as through iTunes. In fact it’s like Chunky in many ways, with lots of the same features though a different but just as nice user interface.
There are two main differences between Chunky and iComix. The good difference is that iComix is on both the iPad and iPhone. The bad difference is that in my experience iComix had a nonstop, very irritating glitch. When I loaded comics into through any cloud services and then later deleted them, some of the comics would reload for no apparent reason. Delete it again, and it re-loads. Eventually it just got too irritating to continue with for me.
Comic Zeal is one of the most well known comic readers. On the plus side it has a great organizational system so you can have hundreds of comics in the app and easily access them all via folders without it seeming crowded. It also has both iPhone and iPad apps.
On the downside it is one of the most expensive options at $6.99 Canadian, ($4.99 USD I believe) plus in-app purchases. On top of that its organization system comes at the cost of a user interface that’s not as intuitive and clean as Chunky. It also doesn’t provide an in-app option for loading comics from storage services, which is a vital option for me.
There are a huge number of comic reader apps out there but these are my top options. Think I missed any especially good ones? Let me know in the comments below.