This may already be old news to some of you reading this, but I was really pleased to find that I could use my local library membership to create an account over at Comics Plus. It’s free to join using most UK library accounts, and you can borrow comics/graphic novels for seven days at a time. You can read whatever you’ve borrowed using the website’s web app, or you can use an Android or iPhone app if you want to keep them handy on your device. I only joined a few weeks ago and already I’ve earmarked dozens of comics I want to read.
There is a huge horror section there, which was what first grabbed my attention. For example, it appears that the site offers the complete Dark Horse-released Creepy Archives, as well as the paperbacks of the new 2015/6 versions of Creepy. The Dark Horse hardbacks of the 1960s and 70s Creepy comics are so expensive to buy new, so this is a great way to dip into them without spending £30 each time!
There are lots of other genres available, and it seems like new comics are being added all the time. No doubt there is a lot of rubbish there too, so you might need to hunt through the titles to find something, but the choice is huge and it’s good way of discovering new things.
Reading comics on a phone screen is a bit challenging at times, but there appears to be an option on the app to use something called “uView”, which might be similar to the way in which comics on the Kindle automatically resize and move between panels, making reading them a bit easier. This can be a little frustrating when you’re reading something with supremely intricate art (I just finished the first volume of The Incal by Moebius and Jodorowsky and I felt like I missed out a bit on Moebius’ sprawing cityscapes) but it’s sometimes easier than trying to read a full page on a small screen. Still, with the price of new comics and graphic novel paperbacks what they are, it’s something I can get over if it means I get to read more stuff.
One issue to consider is that the iPhone app is pretty clunky, from my experience. If you try to re-download a comic after it’s expired, the app launches into an infinite cycle of asking you to login. You have to remove the comic, search and check it out again, then re-download it after logging in to make it work. It’s not much but it’s kind of annoying if you just want to continue reading where you left off.
The other issue is that it seems the comic images are either very high quality – meaning the download times are very long – or they’re poorly scanned/compressed versions – meaning the text is sometimes hard to read and the art detail gets lost in the compression. The long download times are a pain considering the only reason you might be re-downloading is because the app doesn’t work perfectly, and the lower quality comics, whilst quick to download, might make you give up squinting at your screen to read the text.
Even so, these are really just minor inconveniences when you consider the selection available – and every comic available on the site is free to borrow and read. Go check it out and enjoy!