With digital sales on the rise, a comic reader should know the best programs they can use to digest their favorite titles. Many options are available for enjoying the medium, ranging from individual apps that offer their own comics for sale and simple readers that get the trick done. Here, we dive into the pros and cons of two popular reading programs, Comixology and Sequential, and what they offer for comic book fans.
Comixology, known as the primary digital comic book distributor, offers two reading options for its customers. The first, available for all the comics it hosts, is the Comixology reader. The second, to give readers ownership of the files they purchase as well as allow them freedom for how they want to read their comics, is the providing of comics by some publishers in DRM-Free backups.
The Comixology program provides a short “Issue Info” pop-up of the current comic the reader has loaded; a Browse Pages function that allows readers to skip around comics without having to rapidly “flip” back and forth to get to the wanted page; three reading options, including 1 Page, 2 Page, and Guided View; and distance-control with the ability to put the program in full-screen as well as let the reader zoom in and out. As it is, the reader can tug the book around and examine it from most angles. However, the distance-control, a relatively recent update, is still a little faulty. If the reader has a preferred page distance that is not the default, they have to adjust it with every new page unless they use the dreaded Guided View.
Guided View is a setting that works well assuming that the comic’s panels fit into a square shape and are read from left to right. When used, it automatically zooms into a panel so that the reader can keep their focus on it without getting distracted or spoiled by the rest of the images on the same one or two pages. However, Guided View sometimes has problems with panels that have a different shape from a computer screen and does not work flexibly, or in ways that the reader may prefer, when it comes to more innovative layouts. Guided View also tends to misread comics if the pages are organized from right to left or a little differently from the usual left to right system.
The Comixology program does not currently have page-moving options beyond what is described here. This has some disadvantages, most notably that readers cannot rotate pages. If a comic is meant to be read vertically or a page upside down, the Comixology program does not accommodate it.
For an ideal experience with the Comixology program, readers may want to use the 1 Page option, zoomed in twice, except in the case of spread pages. For comics with more varied art, 21 comics publishers, including Image Comics and Oni Press, allow readers to export their books to more agreeable programs.
Not the comics app known by the same name, Sequential is an image viewer for Mac users. It can display JPG, PNG, GIF, and PDF images from ZIP, RAR, CBZ, and CBR folders. Many comics readers who purchase comics from publishers’ digital stores or receive digital rewards from comics Kickstarters already use Sequential.
Although not originally invented with reading comics and manga in mind, Sequential works as a fantastic reading program. Readers can put the program in full screen, choose whether or not they want to keep the thumbnails of all pages on the left side of the program, and fully manipulate the pages. Different ways of viewing involve extreme zooming in and zooming out ranges; turning the pages 90 degree clockwise, 90 degree counterclockwise, or upside-down; and reorganizing the order of the pages. Sequential, with its ease of use, gives readers ways to thoroughly examine experimental comics.
But, while Sequential provides an ideal amount of control over images, it still has its downsides. Because the comics must come from outside image sources and not from a store, the page quality and readability is contingent upon each source. Also, because Sequential orders each page individually, it displays spread pages by halves. Not the best way to view an artist’s hard work, certainly.
With their mix of advantages and disadvantages, readers may prefer to use both Comixology and Sequential depending on their subscribed titles’ methods of distribution and typical formatting. While Sequential creates a better reading experience, Comixology’s primary brand characteristic is its convenience. Every comic is unique and readers deserve ideal reading programs to accompany and enhance their enjoyment.