Friday, September 9, 2011

6 Digital Comic Book Readers (or Image Viewers)

Digital comic books are usually archives of individual page images saved with the extension CBZ or CBR, which are simply renamed ZIP and RAR files for convenience. The format was made popular by CDisplay – one of the first comic book reader - but is now used by many other comic book reading programs. Essentially, comic book readers are sequential image viewers with the ability to display images contained within archives, and often comes with extra features designed to allow comfortable reading of comics. Today, we will look at a number of different eComic readers available for Windows.



As mentioned earlier, CDisplay is one of the first comic book readers created because existing programs were too general purpose and thus awkward to use for the purpose of reading comics. Although no longer developed, CDisplay remains one of the best comic book reader in existence today.

CDisplay can read JPEG, PNG and static GIF images which are automatically ordered alphabetically. Images can also be viewed from a folder or collected in a .zip, .rar, .ace or .tar archive file. Many automatic page sizing options such as fit to width, fit to height, auto scroll including choices to display one or two pages at one time. CDisplay can also automatically adjust colour balance and remove yellow hues which are often present on scans of old comics.

There is also present a slideshow mode that scrolls through the images automatically. Unfortunately, there is no option to adjust the slideshow interval and the default rate is too fast.



CDisplayEx is a comic book reader based on CDisplay. It has all the features of CDisplay and some additional ones. All tools that were only accessible through menus on CDisplay are laid out in a toolbar. Many of these are available with a single click.

CDisplayEx supports a wide range of file formats such as CBZ, CBR, CBT, RAR, ZIP, TAR, 7z, LZH, ARJ, CAB, TAR.GZ  and TAR.BZ2. It also supports BMP images over and above JPEG, PNG and GIF.

CDisplayEx also has consistent keyboard shortcuts, much better than those on CDisplay. For example, in CDisplay, you can use the Up/Down arrow keys to scroll the page up or down. You might expect the Left/Right arrow key to take you to the previous and next page respectively. But it doesn’t. Instead, you have to use the PageUp and PageDown keys. On CDisplayEx the Up/Down arrow keys is all you need.



ComicRack comic book reader includes a library manager that can scan folders and list all comic book archive files on the disk. You can create folders and lists to organize your comic books, customize the lists to show just the information you need and use advanced tools to tag and edit the information for your eComics. You can also Smart lists to display dynamic lists based on eComic info (never read, author, series etc.)

As regards reading comic books, it has all the features that you can expect from a modern comic book reader: different display modes, full screen, information overlays, magnifier, color adjustments, automatic background color matching and a multi tab interface to quickly switch between eComics.

ComicRack even opens PDF files and converts them to comic book archive formats like CBZ and CBR.



Comical is a bare bones comic reader. A column of thumbnails on the left and the page viewer on the right makes up the interface. Navigation features include up, down, next and previous page, home and end, and display options are limited to fit to width, fit to height, original and custom zoom. It can open CBR/RAR and CBZ/ZIP comic book archives, directories of images and display JPEG, PNG, GIF, and TIFF images. That sums up Comical.

Comical is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX.



HoneyView supports several archive formats such as ZIP/CBZ, RAR/CBR, LZH/LHA, TAR, 7Z, HV3, ALZ, and EGG. It also has a wide support for image formats including BMP, JPG, GIF/Animated GIF, TIFF, PNG, TGA, PSD, JPEG 2000(JP2, J2K), JPEG XR/HD Photo(WDP, HDP), and DNG(Adobe Digital Negative). This allows HoneyView to be used as a general purpose image viewer.

HoneyView also has a slideshow viewer, which unlike the one in CDisplay, has adjustable transition times ranging from 1 to 90 seconds, and options like repeat or randomize. You can view pictures with applied filters, changed interpolation method (Bilinear, Bicubic or Lanczos), additional effects (negative or gamma correction), rotated, or zoomed in or out.

In preferences, you can customize many other options such as file associations, customize keyboard and mouse input, customize the background color, and so on.



This is another comic book reader with some interesting options. One option is that GonVisor is able to load images from a folder recursively, which means that you can point the application to a folder and it will load all images inside that folder and subfolders. The other option is to load images from a PDF file. GonVisor can also create a CBZ or CBR file from the images loaded from a folder.

Instead of thumbnails that most comic book readers display on the sidebar, GonVisor displays a list of filenames of the images. Thumbnails are available, but on a separate pop-up window.

GonVisor also has a basic library manager to manage your comic book collection, and search tool that can locate all CBR or CBZ files stored in local or network disks. Other features worth mentionaing are a slideshow viewer with customized time interval between images, and a boss key that instantly minimized the application and changes the taskbar icon to that of Microsoft Excel.


  1. I recommend CoView:

  2. CoView is difficult to use. No use of mouse, fully keyboard. Who remembers two dozen keys just to read comics?

  3. Thanks endi, I was looking all over for the CoView. I had it on a machine ages back and I'd forgotten the name. I've tried a whole bunch of comic viewers and CoView is my favourite. It has such a clean interface, no awful toolbars clogging things up. Just the comic. The keyboard mapping is quite intuitive and it does tell you exactly what button does what with just a click.

    There's no One comic book viewer that'll please all people. If I know I'm going to spend hours of my life interfacing with a reader, I'll be happy to spend a few minutes learning what keys make it work than go for something that is ugly and will cause frustration.

  4. Thx for the article

    Sumatrapdf nowadays supports many CBR formats, IIRC


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