This past Saturday was Free Comic Book Day, the biggest day of the year for comics shops. But in case you missed it, digital has got your back.
All the major digital comics distributors have a special page set aside for free comics. ComiXology always has an assortment of free comics, mostly issue #1s, and they also have 14 of this year’s FCBD comics. Like comiXology, Dark Horse puts a link to their entire catalog of free comics right on the front page. You have to dig a bit deeper on the Comics Plus site to find their collection of free comics, but I’ll save you the trouble: Here’s a direct link. It’s worth taking a look at the individual publisher apps supported by comiXology and Comics Plus, as they may feature free comics that aren’t in the main app.
If you’re thinking about getting Marvel Unlimited, check out their free selection before you buy.
Drive Thru Comics claims they have over 800 free comics on their site. If you hate DRM, this is the place for you, as the comics are downloadable as watermarked PDFs.
For manga lovers, Viz Manga offers a lot of free previews, usually the first chapter of each volume 1. That’s about 60 pages, or about two issues of a Western comic. Just sayin’.
The folks at CO2 Comics are so serious about making sure you get your free comics that they bought the domain freecomicseveryday.com (which links to their site). Some are old, some are new; the comic I particularly enjoyed on this site is The World of Ginger Fox, Mike Baron and Mitch O’Connell’s over-the-top tale of a professional woman trying to save a Hollywood studio, first published in 1986.
Look for the “Read Comics for Free” tab on the ComicMix home page and you will see a menu of interesting choices, including Grimjack, Jon Sable Freelance, and The Original Johnson.
If you want to sample some classic Golden Age comics, go to The Digital Comic Museum to download older comics that are in the public domain. The selection covers a lot of genres—romance, sci-fi, war comics, Westerns, even superheroes—but the offerings tend to be on the lesser-known side of the comics spectrum. Comic Bin will let you read its Golden Age comics for free if you sign up for an account. Archive.org also has a good-sized selection of comics, mostly older titles from Dell and the like.
And going all the way back to the roots of comics in North America, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum has some interesting digital albums and exhibits, including the comics of Lyonel Feininger and Nell Brinkley, and some of the original Yellow Kid cartoons.
To find free graphic novels in the Kindle and Nook stores, simply do a search on “graphic novel” and then sort by price, from lowest to highest. All the free graphic novels will pop up at the top of the list.
That should be enough to keep your e-reader filled for a while, but if you have another site that I have missed here (legal sites only, please!), feel free to share the love in the comments section.
A former book editor and newspaper reporter, Brigid Alverson started MangaBlog to keep track of her daughters¹ reading habits and now covers comics and graphic novels for Comic Book Resources , School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Robot 6, and MTV Geek. She also edits the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. Brigid was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards. Send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org