Can you really read comics online for free? It sounds too good to be true, but you’ll be amazed by what’s out there.

Years ago, if you asked a newsboy at a comic stand if he had anything free to read, chances are he’d call you un-American and sic the local Citizens Patrol on you. The futuristic comics of the times scored points for predicting smart cars, bizarre transplants and nuclear weapons, but were eerily silent about free comics, banner ads, and online donations. Now, not only can you find things to read, you can read comics online free.

Yes, decades after marching by the thousands into paper vats for each comic book issue, trees are breathing a sigh of relief. Online comics, better known as webcomics, are being published for free in the hopes readers will click ads, buy issues, subscribe, purchase merchandise, or donate. Whether you like paper or digital comics, the Internet has a lot of websites and apps that will help you read comics online free.

Webcomics

When it comes to wanting to read comics online free, webcomics have been around since 1985, and they are not only on the creators’ websites. They are all across social media (Tumblr reads especially well), and several webcomic directory sites list or host over 20,000 comics each! Two of the biggest sites are The Webcomic List, with over 25,000 comic profiles, and Comic Rocket, with over 35,000 comics. The Webcomic List separates titles by genre, while Comic Rocket rates titles in all genres from G to NC-17.

If you want to read comics online, for free, Webcomics is a great option.

My favorite is Belfry Comics, which uses great filters to get you where you want fast.  The categories are broad enough to allow plenty of exploration in each one.

You can even download a webcomics app on iPhone or Android to see your favorite webcomic (like Cyanide and Happiness) or read a lot more (like Comic Chameleon)!

Desktop Comic Readers

There’s no need to squint at everything on your phone, though. Some desktop comics readers, like ComicRack, Simple Comic and MComix, let you read the comics in the sizes they were meant to be. ComicRack is for Windows, iPad and Android, and allows Python scripts for PC tinkerers. It also allows viewing of PDF books. Simple Comic is a comic viewer for Mac, and offers zooming, full screen, and extra windows if you simply must read your comics at the same time. MComix is an improved and continuing version of the Comix Project, which ended in 2009. It runs on Windows and Linux, and has good reviews for ease of use.

Paper Comics Without The Pileup

Ever try to find an online copy of pre-Internet comics? Google and Bing can only find so much information at a time in image searches.  Chances are you’ve found panels and pages of old comic books, but not complete issues, on general interest sites like Wikimedia Commons. Comic book archives like Digital Comic Museum Viewer, Archive.org and ComicBookPlus.com are a big help. Searching for “comic book archives” will help you find even more specialized sites.

Digital Comic Museum Viewer lets you read amazing old comics full screen and in full color. The giant previews are like nothing I’ve seen in 40+ years of reading comics, especially a look at Daredevil #1!

Archive.org is a bit more random. It helps if you know what vintage comic companies or series you’re looking for. On the other hand, you can stumble some one-of-a-kind comics other sites don’t have.

ComicBookPlus is another paper treasure trove, and features Golden and Silver Age titles from companies that — can you believe it, true fans? — once competed with Marvel and DC. Speaking of which…

Where to Read Marvel Comics Online

Marvel offers its digital comics at Comicstore.marvel.com. The company also offers reader apps for iOS and Android. Almost anything you have bought online from the company website should be readable on your Marvel app too. There is also an Unlimited subscription that lets you read over 20,000 comics!

Where to Read DC Comics Online

DC and Marvel have always been rivals, and their websites continue the competition. The companies offer almost identical online shopping and subscriptions at ComiXology.  Single digital issues can also be bought at the DC online store. Navigating some of the DC site seems to need a little work though, and it’s easier to click on a Gilette ad than buy a featured Wonder Woman.

Like Marvel, DC offers free online comic books from 2010 to 2017 on its websites and apps.

Where to Read & Buy More Digital Comics

ComiXology is Amazon’s comic store.  It offers both Marvel and DC comics, including 100+ free issues featuring Superman, X-Files, Scott Pilgrim, and Wonder Woman. An unlimited plan lets users choose from over 10,000 comics for under $10 a month. Like Netflix, ComiXology offers its own Original Works, and organizes comics into graphic novels, indie and manga. There are lots of intriguing categories for comics fans, such as Get into (Good) Trouble, Weird and Occult Crime, Love Stories, and Conspiracies and Political Thrillers. Top and popular comics are also promoted with intriguing links like Eisner Award Winners, Ignatz Award Nominees, 50 Essential Graphic Novels, and Staff Picks.

Indie-PDF Day

Not every comic artist works for Marvel or DC. With the Internet and some elbow grease, it’s possible to put a comic strip online.

Just like Marvel and DC, most comic artists are in business for the money. Many up-and-coming artists can be found on fundraising and webstore sites like Patreon, IndieGogo, and GoFundMe. Often you can find a great comic website by reading writer profiles. One company, ComicHaus, will be adding app subscriptions to its desktop and mobile catalogs in 2018.

Crowdfunded Comics

Patreon supports over 8000 webcomics artists. Many artists get donations for each comic strip or comic book that they make.

ComicHaus is a marketplace for comic strip creators. It began as a webstore for comic artists before launching its own brand. ComicHaus still supports indie efforts, sharing money with comic artists as they sell their works.  CH sells paper comics and offers a monthly subscription. Subscribers who use the website or the app can read comics online, and 50% of ad and sales revenues will go to comic writers.

Where Will You Find Your Favorite Comics?

There are a lot of places online for many kinds of different comics fans. Some people enjoy reading old paper comic books and comic strips. Other people like discovering indie and manga strips shared by word of mouth or social media. Still others like to stick with a favorite genre. Yet others are loyal to certain brands, like DC, Marvel or Dark Horse.  With the Internet continuing to mature and deepen, it’s easy to get enjoyably lost in your favorite comics… and find new ways to experience an old art.

What New Comics Did Our Article Help You Find & Enjoy? Leave A Comment!

Feature image: CC by CC 0, by Ralpoonvast, via Pixabay, altered

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