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Ah! comics”¦conjure up memories of stolen moments of pure pleasure. Comics have been and hopefully will continue to be staple diet for adolescent years and beyond. But our childhood superheroes are changing, some with age and some with dwindling sales. Archie gets married and Superman dies. Playstations are the new, more interactive entertainment consoles. Where are the comics heading to? To the web, of course.

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If eBooks are gaining ground can web comics be far behind, especially when today’s kids come toting iPhones and netbooks? Like the others, comics too are hugging the freedom and freeness of the web. After all, it’s the best publishing platform that’s going around. My fellow comic book lover Jeffry showed us something on web comics with his post on How to Find and Read Comic E-Books Online How to Find and Read Comic E-Books Online How to Find and Read Comic E-Books Online Read More .

Following his recommendation, I tried out ComicRack – a free eComic book reader. By the looks of it on its website, it promised smooth and silky page turning. Perfect for the Buck Jones eComic I had lying around.

Buck Jones on ComicRack

Buck Jones is packaged in an ebr file. Most web comics come in any one of the following formats – cbz, zip, cbr, rar, cbt, tar, cb7, 7z or pdf. ComicRack supports all these and can also export in the cbz, cbt, cb7 or pdf formats.

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Here’s how my eComic looks, all opened up on the cover page.

Turning the pages of my web comic

An eComic reader might not give you the glossy feel or the dog eared feel of an actual comic. And you have to give pillow reading a miss, but the ComicRack tries to compensate by offering flexible ways to read the adventures. You have different page layout options and the choice of viewing the pages in full screen mode (my choice) or in a separate window altogether. To simulate a real world comic, you can also opt to view two pages side by side. Auto-rotation modes for fitting it on other devices like tablet PCs are available with a click. And like all things these days, ComicRack too has a multi-tabbed interface.

Navigation is easy with the page arrow keys. A scrollable thumbnail preview helps us to jump to any page of the web comic. With Bookmarks you don’t have to remember where you left off.

Another useful little tool is the Magnifier which like its name helps to blow up any part of the image you like. Could be especially useful for those who like artwork.

Delve into the Preferences, if you want more hands on control with settings like contrast, brightness and saturation. A lot of other viewing features are configurable of course.

Managing my web comic collection

Bundled alongside the reader features are a few more which make ComicRack a one stop solution for all your eComics. ComicRack captures all the details of an eComic like page details. You can set Page Filters to include or exclude parts like the covers or the advertisements. The filters thus help to leave out the parts you don’t want to read.

The Library is very similar to iTunes with Smart Lists for quick access to your collection of web comics. You can scan entire folders which have readable content and bring them into lists using your own custom lists. Just like playlists, these lists can be managed and exported. Thumbnail previews and advanced sorting help out with managing your collection.

Try out the advanced Search Browser if you have a large collection.

ComicRack handles most of the formats that eComics come in. Add to that its ability to convert between formats and you get another tool to handle those pdf to cbr jobs.

ComicRack – does it deserve graphic praise?

ComicRack does all that you would expect a full featured collection manager to do. But quite surprisingly, it does not provide a help file. In my opinion, a reader could do without one, but a collection manager should have a guide behind it. I would have loved if it could have doubled as a PDF reader straight out of the box, but it can only handle those ones which have scanned images as part of the PDF. A separate 12MB sized Ghostscript install makes it a fully compliant PDF reader. That is the only chink I could find.

Not quite on the pillow, but ComicRack does allow me some of those childhood pleasures on the desk.

Download: ComicRack (ver. 0.9) runs on Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7.

  1. Renato Gomes
    December 27, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Seems that Mac users were despised by ComicRack. Pity.

  2. quidam
    December 26, 2009 at 8:46 am

    after 3 months of developement new version is out (0.9.112) which aside from few features and improvements is much faster now.

  3. Doc
    December 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    I've used CDisplay since I discovered CBR/CBZ scanned comics; tried ComicRack, and it's way too overblown for my needs.

    • Dead End
      December 26, 2009 at 6:00 pm

      Same here. I tried ComicRack, ened up going back to CDisplay.

  4. Paco
    December 22, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Hi Saikat,

    I have recently been using Private Character Editor (an article you wrote back in January) and have been having some issues. I put a comment on the article but am thinking you might not have checked it since you wrote it a while ago and I was hoping to get some help from you:

    I’m running Private Character Editor on Windows 7 and am trying to save one simple 64×64 bitmap character and it’s telling me “Not enough memory. Please retry after other processes finish”.

    I’ve made only about 120 other private characters without any problem like this and there are thousands of remaining empty blocks for other private characters. So I don’t think it could be a space problem. Though I did experiment making one with just one bit filled and that one actually was able to save without the message popping up. Very strange.

    The only program that I have running at the same time is “sticky notes” so I know it’s not that. I went on task manager and it didn’t seem like anything was taking a huge amount of RAM.

    My Computer>Properties says I have 3GB available of RAM and I have over 200GB available on my hard drive.

    I checked my Virtual Memory which said "Total paging file size for all drives: 3062 MB" so that's not a problem either I don't think.

    I’ve restarted and shut down and still the message pops up if I try again.

    Any suggestions? Thanks for any help!

    • Saikat
      December 22, 2009 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Paco,

      I don't have a solution for you at this moment. Searched the net, but only your own queries came up. What I don't understand is why is the error showing up after you have created 120 characters (120 is a fraction of the 6,400 unique characters allowed)? Could the error lie in the font (64x64)? or in the font library itself? Try out characters with different dimensions...I am just guessing of course, till I manage to find the answer.

    • Paco
      December 27, 2009 at 10:07 am

      I tried it again on a different font link and still the same thing happened: maybe just a bit over 100 characters and the "Not enough memory. Please retry after other processes finish." message started popping up when I would try to save another character (to be the 117th to be exact). There are still thousands of empty blocks.
      I experimented a little:
      I found that the message won't pop up if I try to save one as an all-black box or if I try to do one with just a couple lines of black or even if I try one half-and-half. But If I do a circle of black, the message comes. It's as if the amount of bits doesn't even matter, just the complexity of the shape? I didn't think that would even matter since it's just a bit map; I thought only the quantity would matter.

      Any thoughts? I guess I could save the rest on another font link but it's strange that it apparently runs out of room when it shouldn't.

  5. Nail Moncef
    December 22, 2009 at 8:09 am

    In fact, I love reading manga but I also read a lot of webcomics ^^. This is really useful and it helps me a lot. So thank you makeuseof for always giving the best software programs !

  6. j.t almodovar
    December 21, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    nice post, i love web comics!

  7. Whimsical Toof Fairy
    December 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks for the recomendation!

    Really nice!

    This is turning out to be tha best christmas ever

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