We love anything free, just so long as it’s legal, which is why ComicBookLover has us a little torn. This handy little gem reads the popular CBR and CBZ digital comic formats. The files are essentially zip archives stuffed with scanned pages in JPEG format. The more conventional PDF format is also catered for. Like MP3 and Torrent files before them, CBR and CBZ have attracted a reputation as pirate formats when in fact, they can and are used by legitimate publishers, too. Comics store DriveThru Comics (http://comics.drivethrustuff.com) is a pioneer in this arena, offering digital downloads from a range of independent producers.
ComicBookLover is one of the best digital comic readers for one reason; its terrific organisation and filing tools. While other programs are little better suited to the task than the Mac’s built-in Preview program, ComicBookLover helps you build a library of your digital comics, arranged by list. You can also enter meta data about each of your favourites, insert bookmark chapters and add ratings.
There are clever viewing features too, with single or double-page modes, colour correction and support for dual displays. You can even set it to full screen mode and control page turns with your Apple remote.
We liked ComicBookLover, with its iTunes styling, foolproof interface and easy navigation. We just wish there was more legal content available.
Marvel offers online access to selections from its back catalogue on a subscription basis, while Dark Horse, home of Hellboy and the Buffy comics, distribute free books on MySpace – but neither company, or for that matter Superman publisher DC, offer downloads in desktop readable formats.
If you’re into independent comic books, ComicBookLover is a great program worth a punt – but fans of Spandex-clad superheroes will be disappointed by the lack of support from the mainstream.
You can download the trial of ComicBookLover from http://www.bitcartel.com/comicbooklover/download.html.