Digital Comics Unleashed (CBR/CBZ)

Example Digital ComicOver the years tons of people have made Flash based digital comics. Most notable to me is Marvel’s dotComics, now re-branded as digital comics. These formats are terrible. I always assumed this meant all digital comics therefore were bad.

Until I discovered the CBR and CBZ formats. These are simply zip or rar files that contain sequentially named JPG files, then are renamed either .cbr or .cbz with the last character indicating the originating format. Creation of this format is therefore trivial. Readers can also be created quite readily. I also love that there is no built-in DRM, but I’m sure the comics industry feels the opposite on that one. I gave my opinion on why they shouldn’t care back when I first started talking about the comic industry needing to go digital.

Anyway, there are some great free readers that have been created for both platforms. On OS X, use FF View. On Windows, use CDisplay. I’ve tried both these programs and they are amazingly well suited to reading comics digitally. The no-frills approach and the surprisingly good quality has me up late reading some independent comics I otherwise would not on my laptop.

Just to prove I’m not the only nut who wants this, I read this on loony blog:

Why would I consider this to be a viable alternative, while the official CD comics that are out there are mostly just a mildly amusing distraction? Because this is just the comic itself. There’s no animation, no music, no cheesy sound effects, just the comic itself, presented in a straightforward manner.

My main reason for wanting this is that I’d love to get all my back issues cheaply in this format so I could go back and read them at my leisure, without reducing the value of the originals through handling. It would also be nice to be able to afford experimenting with series I would not normally read on a whim. $1 an issue would really allow for that.

Similarly, in another comic reader’s article “The comic book industry is ignoring a multi-million dollar revenue stream”, he states:

[…] for the purpose of archiving stuff I physically own, so I can put the paper copies in storage. No small thing!

Here are some examples to try:
Zone-H Comics – scroll to the bottom for the one linked in CBR format.
Liberality for All (2.1MB CBZ) – a crazy right wing comic (only to be enjoyed by those with massive head injuries)

“comic books”, “digital comics”, “marvel comics”, cbr, cbz, comics, dotcomics, flash, jpg, marvel

20 thoughts on “Digital Comics Unleashed (CBR/CBZ)

  1. Shamshad

    I want to download the comic book software to see the books I downloaded which are in cbz format.\

    Please let me have the same.

    thanks and regards,

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  3. Dunnie

    I just love this concept. Name the pix sequentially, rar/zip them, rename to cbr/cbz — DONE! I think also people scanning non-comic books should adapt this. Ok OCR is better, but it requires more time and effort. Still looking for THE reader. CDisplay my fav so far. Comical not bad. But *why* is not [num+/-] the zoom-standard? Pgup PgDn prev/next page is good. But mouse-wheel would be nice as well.

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  5. Jonty

    You can bulk convert all of your comics to CBZ format using a free tool Comic Converter available for download from It will take CBZ, CBR, PDF, PPT, PPTX, ZIP, RAR or plain folders and build CBZ files from them. It supports drag and drop and will bulk convert. Best of all it is completely free.

  6. Chris

    For Mac OSX, I recommend ComicBook Lover. It’s not free, though if you’re reading pirated digital comics, you probably don’t care about finding a pirate version of CBL.

    It’s like iTunes for Comics. Amazing stuff. It even has color correction for those old mags that are all yellowed.

    it has a ton of USEFUL features that generic picture viewers don’t.

  7. Chris

    Excellent post. I am just getting into reading digital comics myself, and it’s pretty awesome. I normally read novels on something like a PDA because it really stinks sitting at the computer that long, but with comics, you’re reading for short periods of time while still enjoying the read itself.

    I don’t think you mentioned what OS you are using, but if you’re on Windows, there is a pretty excellent reader which allows you to view thumbnails of the covers. It kind of feels like collecting actual books. The program is called Comic Rack. You can get it at

    Anyways, again, good post…I do believe that I’m going to start following you, Sir…lol

  8. Asuka 24

    I use the CDisplayEx program to read comics in cbr format. It is better than the regular cd display.

    CBR are actually rar files with the rar changed to .cbr

    If you use the avast anti-virus program, when you run a boot time scan it will let you know if a .cbr file is corrupt. I found a few corrupt files in my collection and replaced them with a new download.

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