Tech Talk #3: Expand Your Comic Collection For Free!

Everyone likes a freebie – no-one more so than myself. So, if you’ve got a tablet PC, then here are some quick and easy ways to expand you comic collection… free of charge!

Okay, so for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to going to base this article around an iPad, but there’s no reason why you can’t apply the same principles to an Android-based tablet like the Samsung Galaxy.

Dedicated Apps – to start with, I’m going to cite what I will refer to as the many ‘dedicated apps’ available. These are free-of-charge apps developed by comics publishers as vehicles for paid-for comics. Of course, no-one’s to download an empty-shell app, so to keep you motivated & incentivised to purchase, they release a lot of free of charge content. Here are a few key examples:

ComiXology – a store app covering Marvel, DC and other publishers, this will give you free titles such as the Walking Dead #1, Rai #0, Lurkers #1, Complex #1, Transformers: Regeneration One #1, Max Payne 3: After The Fall #1, Frenemy of the State #1 and Secret Skull #1. In ‘store’ view, just tap on the ‘Popular’ tab at the top of the app, and scroll down to the ‘Top Free’ section.

ComicsPlus – another comic store app with more independent titles, and plenty of free first issues such as: Epic Kill, Alpha Girl, Hoax Hunters, Aphrodite IX, Planetoid, No Place Like Home, Mind The Gap, Danger Club, Grim Leaper etc, as well as a good range of more mainstream titles such as Archie. In ‘store’ view, just tap on the ‘Top Titles’ tab at the top of the app, and scroll down to the ‘Top Free’ section.

Marvel Comics App – plenty of free comics covering all your favourite heroes. In ‘store’ view, just tap on the ‘Free’ tab at the top of the app.

DC Comics App – of the two big names, this is probably the best app, with 5 free issues of Batman: Black & White, comics, and 30+ issues of a comic brief called DC Universe Origins; also available are free issues of Fringe, Super8, Knight & Squire (Victorian Batman & Robin), Legends of the Dark Knight, Shadow of the Bat, and if you don’t own a copy, Detective Comics #27 – the first appearance of the Batman from 1939. A new series (means I haven’t read them yet!) are the 101 comics, e.g. Batman 101, Catwoman 101, etc which give you a thorough history on your favourite characters. In ‘store’ view, just tap on the ‘Popular’ tab at the top of the app, and scroll down to the ‘Top Free’ section.

Dark Horse Comics App – dedicated to DH, with plenty of free content such as Falling Skies #1-4, Falling Skies: Battle of Fitchburg #1-8, The Terminator, Star Wars, Mass Effect, Hell-Boy & Buffy. In ‘store’ view, just tap on the ‘Browse’ button at the top right of the app, and then tap on the ‘Free Comics!’ section.

Doctor Who Comics – the weakest offering, but you can get the Doctor Who 2010 Annual & DW: The Forgotten #1 for free! In ‘store’ view, just tap on the ‘Free’ tab at the top of the app.

Kindle App – basically, this is an app that emulates an Amazon Kindle e-book reader. So once you have this app loaded on your tablet, you simply go straight to the e-book section of the Amazon web-site and search for free comics there. Here you can pick up black & white comics such as Two Keys & Sin. Go to the Amazon site, click on ‘Kindle’, then ‘Kindle eBooks’, and then ‘Comics & Graphic Novels’ along the left-hand side menu. Scroll down and midway on the right-hand side you’ll see ‘Bestsellers in Comics & Graphic Novels’. clicking on that will give you the top 100 paid for and free comics & graphic novels.

iBooks – by default, you will have iBooks loaded on your Apple tablet. Just type in the word ‘comic’ into the search field under the Books section – here you’ll find multiple free ‘Fathom’ titles, Arcana Studios, Soulfire and many others.

iTunes Store – there are a few dedicated comic issue apps, that is to say, someone has created an app that covers just a single comic issue. Often they have been written for the iPhone or iPod as well, so they have this pan & zoom function that takes from panel to panel, rather than page to page. It’s a bit cumbersome, but there are some good ones such as the Terminator: Salvation and The Umbrella Academy.

Document Readers – .pdf or .cbr readers; .pdf’s and cbr’s can be downloaded all over the internet, but to view them you’ll need reader apps. There is no end of good Adobe compstible .pdf readers, but a good .cbr can be hit or miss, and so I recommend the app ComicFlow for this.

Finally – I’m not going to review tablets, as there are just so many, and to be honest, there are so many websites & magazines doing that job so comprehensively. However, it’s worth reminding you that there are so many deals to be had (and never by a resistive screen tablet). Just today I got a lead on a 9.5″ capacitive touch Android based for $90 (that’s £57) including free worldwide shipping. Even if you only used for a year and then sold it on eBay for half that, it might be worth a punt…

Anyway, I hope all this has been of some help, so expand your collection & enjoy – happy reading.

Reporter: SilverFox

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