Looking for Digital Comics Resources? The Comics Haul Has You Covered!
The Comics Haul with Amy and Paul is a weekly Sideshow podcast and livestream that brings you all the latest news and reviews from the world of comic book publishing.
But what if you can’t get your weekly books? Want to transfer your collection into the digital realm? This latest episode has all the resources you need to support a local comic store, find and purchase digital comics, and check out free first issues from major publishers!
These tips and tools are applicable any time of the year, so what are you waiting for? Let’s read some comics!
Support Your Local Comic Store
Due to social distancing and local health ordinances, many local comic stores are being asked to close or drastically reduce their hours to accommodate. If you want to continue supporting your local comic store, there are a number of ways you can help! Firstly, follow them on social media- this will allow you to see updates to their hours, any closures, or business changes they put into place. Show them love! Let them know you appreciate the services they provide to the community.
Beyond that, you can find out if your LCS is offering mail subscriptions, curbside pickup, or even delivery. The current health crisis is one of the few times The Comics Haul doesn’t recommend lingering in the store if you can avoid it. But don’t leave your store high and dry! If you absolutely cannot pick up your books, give them a call and let them know. Your pull list is stock they have already spent money on- it can be a huge problem when people abandon books without warning.
Morgan Perry (@geauxta) from Boom! Studios has compiled a Twitter thread of all stores currently offering mail subscriptions for comics. Sites like Midtown Comics also offer online shopping and mailing.
If your store sells games and hobby supplies, consider ordering something that you can play with family or any housemates you may have during a period of sustained quarantine. Or pick up an RPG handbook and do an online conference call with friends to play Dungeons & Dragons!
Finally, consider purchasing a giftcard from your store- give them money upfront that you can use to collect your pull list at a later time when it is safe to do so. This helps them hold current stock and it gives you a reason to come back and support them again!
Diamond Distribution has resumed in the continental United States, and many publishers have reevaluated their publishing lineup to be more spread out than pre-pandemic. Digital releases have resumed, although Marvel has shuttered their digital comics store (but not the Unlimited library service) and their books are currently only available through comiXology. Please continue to follow safety guidelines in your local region if you intend to physically purchase books at your local comic store.
Subscribe to a Digital Comics Library
If you cannot get to a physical store, or already prefer to read books digitally, check out these awesome resources so you can access extensive libraries of books while continuing to support publishers and creators!
comiXology is an Amazon company that offers both purchasing options for the newest books and subscription models for a library of older titles. They frequently offer deep discounts sorted by series or by creator, so you can find a title you love and purchase it at a bargain price! comiXology features practically every mainstream comics publisher as well as manga publishers, and new books release weekly on Wednesdays just like in physical stores. There are currently over 75,000 titles available for purchase and 700 free issues you can save to your account.
comiXology Unlimited is a subscription service that offers you total access to a vast catalogue of over 20,000 famous comics for only $5.99 a month. You can get a 30 day free trial if you have never used the service before, but take note- the Unlimited library is not current weekly books. Issues added to the library are usually 3-6 months delayed, but that still means there are thousands of incredible comics available to you at all times!
As a part of their streaming service, DC Universe features a library of 1145 different DC Comics series, for a total of over 20,000 comics. These can be filtered by top characters, writers, artists, era (Golden, Silver, Bronze, Modern, New 52, Rebirth), and by storyline- like Death of the Family, Superman for All Seasons, Doomsday Clock, Forever Evil, The Judas Contract, and more. As with most subscriptions, the library is not completely current- books added are usually a few months behind the current shelf. New users can get a 7 day free trial, then it’s $7.99 a month. (This also includes their shows, if you’re looking for a new series to binge-watch!)
Marvel Insider and Marvel Unlimited
Marvel Unlimited is a subscription service that features a library of over 27,000 Marvel titles, and offers different subscription tiers- monthly, yearly, and annual plus, which features exclusive subscriber gifts. New titles are added to the service every week, but they are added on a 6 month delay from original publish date. It also features a large catalogue of classic Marvel stories remastered for a digital edition. It is available through iTunes and Google Play for $9.99 a month, and new users can get a 7 day free trial.
With a free Marvel Insider account, you can redeem digital copies of physically purchased Marvel Comics with the “bonus digital copy” code sticker in most of their publications. Look for the digital content notice on the cover to see if your comic is eligible for a free digital redemption- but these codes do expire after an extended period, so make sure you update frequently!
Amazon’s digital reading subscription Kindle Unlimited includes a large selection of eligible comic books, and the app can be downloaded onto Android and iOS devices, not just the Kindle itself. Notable series featured on the site include Locke & Key, The Boys, Sandman, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Batman: Hush, Batman: Year One, and many more from publishers like Marvel, DC, BOOM!, IDW, Image, Valiant, Oni Press, and Archie Comics. Over 14 publishers have libraries featured on this app, and readers can “borrow” up to 10 titles at a time. This app is only accessible with an Amazon account that has a current, valid payment method attached.
Marvel Unlimited Offers Free Comics Access
Announced on April 2nd, the Marvel Unlimited Comics App is offering fans access to a curated collection of free comics until May 4th. All that is needed to access the books is to download the app (available on Android and iOS devices) and open the application to find the “Free Comics” tab on the landing page. No account is required, and no payment information or free trial will be activated upon claiming the free comics.
Free comics available on Marvel Unlimited currently include:
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga
- Civil War
- Avengers vs. X-Men
- Black Widow: SHIELD’s Most Wanted
- The Avengers (2018) Vol. 1: The Final Host
- Thanos Wins
- Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster
And many more! Check out these free comics on Marvel Unlimited!
Vault Comics [Updated]
Vault Comics specializes in sci-fi and horror, but have action, LGBTQ+, fantasy, and more. Here are some recs from The Comics Haul:
- Heathen– set for feature film, by Natasha Alterici, a fantasy series about a viking woman outcast for defying Odin and rescuing the immortal Valkyrie Bryhild, who was exiled long ago. For fans of Vikings, Thor, the Witcher, and mythology in general.
- Vagrant Queen– set to be a SyFy TV series, by Magdalene Visaggio and Jason Smith. This sci-fi series is about an orphaned queen who refuses to accept her title and instead scavenges throughout the galaxy for work, junk, fights, whatever she can find. Little does she know there’s a bounty on her head to snuff out her royal bloodline.
- Friendo– This Black Mirror-esque sci-fi story is about a man named Leo who has a VR friend named Jerry, a personalized marketing AI that is malfunctioning and causing Leo to lose touch with reality. Social anarchy ensues. By Alex Paknadel and Martin Simmonds.
- Other books include Fissure, Wasted Space, Alien Bounty Hunter, Failsafe, and Deep Roots.
Vault Comics has removed access to their free first issues on their website, but you can currently check out Vagrant Queen (now a television series on Syfy) for free on comiXology for a limited time. (Updated June 18th, 2020)
Image Comics First Issues
Image Comics has 133 first issues for some of their most acclaimed series available for free online. Read them and find your newest obsession. Each comic also links to the overall series page where you can see creators, covers, collected editions, and more news related to each book.
If you like the series, there’s a “Buy” link that directs you to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Comixology, and Kindle Links for digital and physical purchase, as well as a comic store locator.
Incredible titles available from Image include: Assassin Nation, Bitter Root, Black Science, Chew, Deadly Class, The Walking Dead, Nailbiter, The Wicked + The Divine, Savage Dragon, Spawn, and more.
Look for yourself at these Free Image Comics First Issues and fall in love with your next favorite series!
Dark Horse Free First Issues
Dark Horse has shared over 80 first issue comics and full graphic novels for fans to read through their website. Releases are separated on the site by topic, including the Mignolaverse (Hellboy, Frankenstein Underground), Kids Comics, Horror and Sci-Fi, Black Hammer, Berger Books, Video Games, and more.
Some of their more popular licenses include Alien vs. Predator, Overwatch, Critical Role, Dragon Age, and Disney. Check out these free Dark Horse Comics and Graphic Novels on their website.
(You can also access free Dark Horse samplers and Free Comic Book Day issues from years past, including Stranger Things, Fight Club, The Umbrella Academy, and more.)
Top Cow Comics First Issues
Top Cow Comics, known for their series like Postal, Aphrodite IX, Ripclaw, The Magdalena, and Sunstone, has about 40 free issues available for fans to read on their website.
Each comic also features a “where to buy” link beneath their entry in case you are interested in reading even more of the series. Don’t miss Zack Kaplan’s Port of Earth, being developed for television, or The Freeze by Dan Wickline and Phillip Sevy.
Check out Free Top Cow First Issues here!
Court of the Dead Free Webcomics
Sideshow’s own original dark horror fantasy series, Court of the Dead, has a host of free webcomics available on their official site- courtofthedead.com. Meet the colorful and ghoulish cast of Underworld heroes like Shard, Kier, Gethsemoni, and Gallevarbe in these free stories that introduce you to the truth of the world as Death, the Alltaker, knows it.
Everything humanity knows about the afterlife is a lie. Heaven and Hell are at war, using human souls as fodder to fuel their cruel efforts. Death is tasked with reaping human souls for their precious etherea, the mystical energy within each precious life. Slowly, secretly, he builds an army of souls he has saved and spirits he has pulled from the Underworld. In time, they will overthrow their Celestial oppressors. In time, they will Rise, Conquer, Rule.
Check out the Court of the Dead webcomics and discover where your loyalties lie!
Other Free Titles from Comic Creators
ShortBox, an indie comics publisher, is releasing free books periodically on Twitter via their Gumroad store. Check them out here:
Today's free book is one of our perennial bestsellers: 'Food Baby' by the fantastic @luchie_hm! Funny, delicious illustrated recipes and food anecdote comics wrapped in a hefty dose of cuteness! Also: eggs. Enjoy! https://t.co/85I7SyLplw pic.twitter.com/ssqk0Ti2OZ
— ShortBox (@Short_Box) March 30, 2020
Humanoids Publishing is rotating four free releases each week on their website.
Brian Michael Bendis’s DC Comics imprint Jinxworld has a free 81 page sampler available, featuring comic content from Cover, Pearl, and United States vs. Murder Inc.
Valiant Comics on Twitter has created a running thread of free comic books available to fans. This thread is updated almost daily:
To our amazing comics family, friends, and fans: please enjoy some new free downloadable comics! This thread will be regularly updated with #1 issues, fun reads, & even full trade volumes!
— Valiant Comics (@ValiantComics) March 13, 2020
Josh Eckert and James F. Wright’s Eisner-nominated graphic novel Contact High, a sci-fi story set in a world where human touch is outlawed, is currently free to download on Gumroad. It is pay-what-you-want, and if you do pay, the profits will be donated to charity.
As many folx are enacting self-isolation procedures, if you're looking for something dope to read, check out CONTACT HIGH. @JoshEck11 & I made a queer sci-fi comic about outlawed human contact and the importance of connection, and it's FREE right now.https://t.co/IULGAKwJUm
— just james (@chuckspear) March 14, 2020
On a Sunbeam:
Public Service Announcement. If you're stuck indoors and need something to read, then it's a good time to remind you that @TillieWalden has the whole of On A Sunbeam still up for free on the original webcomic's site. #comics https://t.co/8GSJRTtgVv pic.twitter.com/gOy73gvD72
— Avery Hill (@AveryHillPubl) March 15, 2020
Writer Jeremy Whitley has compiled a thread encouraging creators to share free issues for their comics. Check out the free downloads and webcomics available in the thread by clicking through to his Twitter:
Okay, let's make this official#CoronaCon thread:
Comic Creators, if you want to share some of your comics FOR FREE with the captive audience stuck at home, here's a thread to jump in! Take a quick read of the rules in the next post, then go for it!
— Jeremy Whitley (@jrome58) March 13, 2020
Writer Matthew Rosenberg has made the first issues of his series 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank and We Can Never Go Home available via his Twitter:
Since people are trying to stay home more and some people just need a good distraction, I thought I'd give you all some free comics to read online. pic.twitter.com/bQ9cypaICc
— Matthew Rosenberg (@AshcanPress) March 13, 2020
Fans can check out two full free volumes of writer Jim Zub’s comics Wayward and Skullkickers via his Patreon, which was shared on Twitter:
With so many people at home in the weeks or months ahead, we're all going to be looking for extra entertainment.
Here, free and with no strings attached, are two full volumes of my comics:https://t.co/BqYrmQNUNS
— Jim Zub (@JimZub) March 13, 2020
For middle-grade readers, Dave Scheidt has shared two full volumes of his kid-friendly comic Wrapped Up, about a tween mummy!
Stuck inside? Looking for something to do? Have kids? I'm giving away free PDFs of my all ages middle grade comic book series Wrapped Up for FREE!
Volume One: https://t.co/tvMHWfBiyZ
Volume Two: https://t.co/bN1eKwFfzu #kidlit #comics #kids pic.twitter.com/FMocLQ5nrd
— Dave Scheidt (@DaveScheidt) March 15, 2020
There are many more creators stepping forward to share free comics with the world. If you like what you read, please consider supporting the creators by purchasing more of their work, sharing your love on their social media, or recommending your reads to a friend. Spread the word!
We hope these resources help you to find entertaining comics stories and support the publishing industry that makes these books possible. Be kind to comics creators, have fun reading, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!
You can watch The Comics Haul live every Wednesday on Sideshow’s Facebook and YouTube platforms. Plus, keep your ears out for the podcast format launching soon! Join certified geek hosts Amy and Paul to talk all things geek and let us know- what’s in your Comics Haul?