Comics are an often under-appreciated form of fiction. Some of the graphic novels I’ve read rank right up there with my favorite fantasy books. But this article is not meant to recruit new comic book lovers. Rather it’s to cater to my fellow enthusiasts.
For books, I’ve got my trusted Sony eReader. Alas, this device doesn’t carry itself as well with comics. That’s where the tablet comes in. A high resolution touch-screen tablet must be the second best way to read comics; second only to actual paper. Don’t write off tablets until you’ve read a comic book on it. Seriously.
Apparently, this fact hasn’t gone unnoticed. There’s a pletora of comic book reader applications on the market. If you’re a proud owner of a Mac and an iOS device, the ComicBookLover duo is one you have to try.
The ComicBookLover application for Mac OS X is free to run in an indefinite demo. This earns you the watermark discussed below. This watermark disappears in the €19.95 or $24.95 premium version. The features discussed below are available in both the free and the paid version.
On first sight, ComicBookLover might remind you of iTunes. Actually, it wouldn’t go amiss to call ComicBookLover the iTunes for your comic books. In the main application view, you can browse through your library by Title, Series, Author, or any of the other tags you stick on your comic books. ComicBookLover supports CBR, CBZ, PDF and image folders — a lot of which can be found on the Internet for free.
These comics can be sorted in Reading Lists, a kind of playlist for your comic books, and Smart Lists, which are auto-generated based on some tags and characteristics.
ComicBookLover comes with an in-house comic book reader. Here is the main difference with the full paid version; the free version of ComicBookLover embeds a watermark on the lower left corner of every page, as shown below. Don’t worry; you can most often read what’s under the watermark, or use the zoom button to move it off the covered text entirely.
The reader is packed with all you would expect from a decent comic book reader. Different zoom modes, reversed browsing direction for use with manga, a full screen mode and a bookmarking system. However, it’s soon clear that ComicBookLover’s forte is not with its reader, but with its tagging and filing system, in conjunction with the iOS application.
Filing & Tagging
As you would in iTunes, you can add to your comic book metadata, which is often lagging. Here you can add the title and series for an issue, as well as the publisher and genre. Most interestingly, ComicBookLover has an extensive auto-complete function that becomes obvious when you’re filling out the names of the artists and writers in the credits; in fact, even the less prominent of these seem known to ComicBookLover.
The immediate advantages of keeping your library well stocked with metadata are obvious. If your collection exceeds a handful of comics, searching and sorting your comic books becomes more and more of a necessity. However, the advantages of well-tagged comics become really apparent when you’re also using ComicBookLover’s reader application for the iPhone or iPad.
Using ComicBookLover Sync, an application that’s available free of charge on the publisher’s website, you can synchronize your ComicBookLover library on your computer with the like-named iOS application.
ComicBookLover on iOS is easy to use, and perhaps one of the more beautiful comic book applications available today. With a well-tagged library, you can browse your comics per series, publisher, genre, or just view your latest additions.
Although the reader in ComicBookLover’s Mac application is encumbered with a watermark, there are no such things on the iOS application. The application is free to download and use without restriction. In the end, that’s how you’ll want to use ComicBookLover – the Mac application as your iTunes-like central management system, and the iOS application to enjoy your comic books at home and on the go.
What applications do you use for comic books? Let us know in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to check out related comics articles by Christian and by Craig. Also, download our free PDF manual on comics by Lachlan.