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Best 10 Apps for Reading Comics
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Reading Comics

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The modern term “comics” was derived from the “comic” or “comic strip,” which first appeared in early American newspapers as a form of entertainment periodical. While “comic” suggests humorous or comedic content, this is not always the case.

Cultures around the world use the English word for “comic” when referencing this form of media. Likewise, the Chinese characters used to write “manga” - a Japanese style of comic - are also used to reference the same thing in Korea and China.

The process of breaking a scene down into various panels is called “encapsulation.” This style of media is designed for the reader to comprehend the image and text simultaneously, oftentimes providing background information so the reader receives a full picture of what is happening in the story at a glance. Text balloons, also referred to as “speech balloons,” are the bubbles that surround the text in a panel. These most often indicate dialogue or thoughts depending on their shape, and each balloon has a “tail” that links it to the person thinking or speaking. Captions or sound effects can also appear in balloons, though it is more common for them to appear as plain text in the panel.

Cartooning, or the physical act of drawing a cartoon or comic, in its original tradition is made with ink - pens or brushes - and paper. However, with improvements in technology, it’s become far more common for writers and artists to use digital mixed media technology to draw their images. 

While similar in basic style, American, European, and Japanese comics are all distinctively different from one another due to the unique ways from which they emerged. European comics have been around since 1827 with the Swiss cartoonist Rodolphe Topffer. In America, comics first appeared in newspapers in 1890 with the comic strip, The Yellow Kid. Japan saw an emergence of satirical cartoons just prior to World War II, though the term “manga” has been around even longer, becoming popular as early as the beginning of the 19th century. By the end of the 20th century, comics in all three locations and styles had begun to be written and compiled into book-length forms known as graphic novels.

Historians believe that the history of comics predates even the above examples, as pre-comic paintings and images with similar storytelling styles and image formatting have been discovered in countries around the world. From the Lascaux cave paintings in France to Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Norman Bayeux Tapestry, there are plenty of historical examples to suggest that the art of cartooning is the product of a long and global line of human innovations.

From 19th century Brittain emerged humor periodicals, the in 1825, which was titled The Glasgow Looking Glass. Originally, these were single panel comics but later began to be printed in sequences that are known today as comic strips. In the United States, comics began to be published regularly by magazines like Life, Puck, Judge, the New York World, and even the New York American. As the popularity of comic strips grew, the American tradition of Sunday comics was put into place with full page, often color spreads in newspapers. While most comics initially consisted of humor, adventure and drama genres began to become popular as well.

Comic books first appeared in the 1930s, and with them came the introduction of famous superheroes like Superman, which marked the very start of the Golden Age of Comic Books in 1938. After World War II, superhero comics began to decline in popularity while comic books as a whole continued to become more and more popular with a far more diverse number of genres, including westerns, crime, and romance.

Despite their popularity, comics and comic books were generally considered to be lowbrow due to their origin in popular culture and media. However, during the second half of the 20th century, popular culture became more widely accepted, thus blurring the line between “high” and “low” cultures. Nevertheless, comics continued to be viewed as a medium primarily for children or the illiterate as they were largely made up of images.

In 1978, A Contract with God by Will Eisner popularized the term “graphic novel.” And, after a series of influential titles in the 1980s such as The Dark Knight Returns, Maus, and Watchmen, public awareness of graphic novels increased dramatically. Today, graphic novels are regularly stocked in bookstores and libraries, and there has been an increase in popularity of online comics known as “webcomics.” Modern titles from TG Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Jab Comics, Midtown Comics, and Newbury Comics are among the most popular in the world. For readers looking to read comics online, popular sites like Comic Vine as well as additional sources for new materials such as the New York Comic Con and the Boston Comic Con also exist. 

In 1827, the Swiss writer Rodolphe Topffer created comic strips that popularized the medium throughout Europe. By the 19th century, cartoons and comics were appearing regularly in newspapers across the continent. Franco-Belgian comics gained traction with Zig et Puce in 1925 and continued its upward momentum with The Adventures of Tintin, which utilized the clean line style that would later come to define the Franco-Belgian genre of comic. In the mid-20th century, full-color magazines became the primary mode through which comics were published and consumed by the public. Just like in the United States, though incredibly popular, comics were largely seen to be childish and a threat to “real” literature.

In the 1960s, “bandes dessinées” (a French word that translates directly to “drawn strip”) became a far more popular way to refer to the comic medium. Cartoonists began to write and draw comics specifically for an adult audience that defied censorship laws at the time and increased even further in popularity. In an effort to fight against the censorship of comics in 1972, writers from the comic magazine Pilote created an adults-only magazine titled L’Écho des savanes, which later influenced other experimental works of science fiction and adult content.

Over time, merging publishing houses have resulted in fewer printed comics, though the demand remains relatively high. The serialization of comics has also become less popular due to publishing companies large and small producing comic albums and collections for consumers to purchase

Japanese cartoons and comics are known as “manga” and can be traced all the way back to the 12th and 13th century with Choju-jinbutsu-giga, four pieces of a paper scroll decorated with animal characters. 17th century Japan also brought about picture books called toba-e and kibyoshi, as well as woodblock prints known as ukiyo-e. Each of these examples demonstrates images in a sequence as well as lines of movement and sound effects; all elements of modern-day Japanese manga.

Western-style cartoons were introduced in Japan in the late 19th century, influencing the style of comics incorporating new elements into Japanese cartooning. In 1900, the newspaper Jiji Shinpo debuted a section title Jiji Manga, which was the very first time the term “manga” was used with its modern meaning. This is also where the first Japanese comic strip was published two years later in 1902. By the end of the 1930s, comic strips were appearing much more commonly in monthly magazines for both boys and girls.

After World War II, Japan’s modern era of comics began. Stories and genres began to diversify, including the creation of adult-only content most commonly referred to as hentai. Stories that had been previously serialized were combined into thick, novel-sized collections which could contain dozens of stories in one place. At the start of the 21st century, almost one-fourth of all media published in Japan was comics. Translations of these comics have begun to increase in demand as foreign markets open up to these stories. In today’s popular culture, Overwatch, the One Punch Man webcomic, and the Undertale comic are commonly sought after titles both in Japan and abroad. 

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Best 10 Apps for Reading Comics

  • 1 ranking-icon-1
    Read comics, manga & manhwa
    4.8 Ratings 2M+ Reviews 50M+ Downloads
    Free Fresh In App Purchases 1M+ Reviews
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  • 2 ranking-icon-2
    Manhua/Comics Episodes Update Daily
    4.7 Ratings 63K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    Free Fresh In App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases
    Free In-App Purchases

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  • 3 ranking-icon-3
    Tons of full-color HD comics, exclusive comics of all genres.
    4.1 Ratings 206K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
    Free Fresh In App Purchases
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  • 4
    Global App for Reading Comic Manga and Novel
    4.0 Ratings 564K+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    Free Fresh In App Purchases
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  • 5
    POCKET COMICS, a world of stories packed into the palm of your hands.
    4.4 Ratings 33K+ Reviews 500K+ Downloads
    Free In App Purchases
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  • 6
    Toomics is a premium comic service with every genre for all readers to enjoy!
    3.6 Ratings 24K+ Reviews 1M+ Downloads
    Free Fresh In App Purchases
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  • 7
    Beyond Webtoons and Webnovels
    4.3 Ratings 116K+ Reviews 1M+ Downloads
    Free Feature Rich In App Purchases Editor's Choice
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  • 8
    MARVEL COMICS app on Android, featuring the world’s most popular super heroes!
    3.9 Ratings 98K+ Reviews 10M+ Downloads
    Free In App Purchases Editor's Choice
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  • 9
    Astonishing Comic Reader, the next-gen App to read your comicbooks!
    4.4 Ratings 26K+ Reviews 1M+ Downloads
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  • 10
    + New Webcomics Everyday! +
    Not your everyday comic. Everyday.
    #READIT #NEEDIT
    3.8 Ratings 51K+ Reviews 5M+ Downloads
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