How to Read Comics Online Free

By James Holloway
Digital comics, back-issue boxes
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Whether you want to try out a new title before you commit to it or just pass the time with some super-heroic action, there are lots of ways to find free comics on the Internet. You may not be able to find that particular issue you absolutely have to have, but if you're open to new experiences you'll definitely find something worth reading.

Free Webcomics

The web has been a fertile place for comics, from the video-game-inspired humor of Penny Arcade, the sci-fi-tinged hipster dramedy of Questionable Content or the screwball mysteries of Scary Go Round.

While most webcomics resemble traditional newspaper gag strips, others are more similar to comic books. Some successful print comics, such as Girl Genius and Atomic Robo, are free online, while other web-original comics, like Strong Female Protagonist, tell their stories in a page format that resembles print comics. Many of these comics are also available in print; if you enjoy them, you can support their creators by picking up a book.

Comic Publishers

From the "Big Two" to the indie presses, comic publishers often put samples of their work online to entice potential readers. Try the sites of publishers such as DC, Marvel, Dark Horse or Image.

Check your favorite comic forum or blog for news about new free issues. You can find compilations of free comics on sites such as Newsarama. Some free issues will be web-only, while you can download and save others.

You can also find free comics in publishers' mobile offerings; both Marvel and DC's mobile apps include free issues or teaser chapters for users.

Online Comic Shops

Another way to find free digital comics is to check the websites of online comics retailers. Sites such as comiXology and DriveThru Comics collect free issues from many different publishers in a single place. Updates to the site see new issues added frequently, and older free comics are less likely to vanish from a retailer's site.

Comics from both major and independent publishers are also available on Scribd. Although this is a paid service, Scribd offers a free trial month, making at least your first month of binge-reading free.

Classic Comics

If you want to learn about the history of comics -- or just enjoy the classics of an earlier age -- there are plenty of free out-of-print comics online. The Digital Comic Museum archives digital scans of Golden Age comics, with titles ranging from superheroes to science fiction to war and romance.

Alternatively, writers and artists sometimes make their older work available online. You can find individual short comics on the sites of creators such as Scott McCloud, or check out sites devoted to classic series like Elfquest.

About the Author

Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.