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When I first got into comics as a young teenager (Astonishing X-Men, anyone?) I needed to know exactly which comic or graphic novel to read and buy online. Do not get me wrong. I’ve read some great comics this way, but as a comics newbie with no local comic bookstore to run me, it definitely slowed my descent into total comic assimilation. I discovered new storylines mostly through writers / artists I liked or who wanted to delve deeper into the MCU characters and plots. Over the years I’ve found so many more resources for discovering and reading new comics. And the best part about it? Many of these resources are completely free!
Whether you’ve been a long-time comic book lover or just immersed yourself in the world of comics (don’t be intimidated! Many of us are nice!), You’ll be amazed at how many resources there are to read comics online for free. Free and legal, we love to hear that!
I recently stumbled upon this page by chance and was blown away by the amount of comics and graphic novels I recognized from my own TBR – including some like Steampunk Snow Queen that I couldn’t find through any other legal comic book sites. A number of Boom, Valiant, and Dark Horse comics are available to read for free on Graphite. Start your free comic book reading with Slam! The Next Jam, Divinity, Ladycastle, Lumberjanes or Goldie Vance.
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Do you have a library card? Then you probably have access to an incredible database of comics and graphic novels (not to mention e-books, audiobooks, films, TV shows and music) from Hoopla. This is one of my personal favorites when it comes to reading comics because the app is so easy to use and has an absolutely huge database of comics and graphic novels to search through. I’m not even going to bother listing suggestions of where to start with Hoopla because if you have a comic book TBR list this is probably where you can find one of your tips.
If you have experience reading comics, mostly from the big publishers like Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, etc., you may not have tried webcomics yet. But you should! Independent and emerging creators post their comics online on places like Tapas.io, giving readers everywhere a chance to fall in love with their work. It’s not uncommon for stories that start out as webcomics to end up being published in physical form. Think of nimona, mooncakes, fangs and heartstopper.
Where to start Some of my personal recommendations for great webcomics on tapas are Cosmoknights for science fiction fans, Gutless for some mermaid / princess / knight fantasy gadgets, and Underforest Tales for some adorable slice of life comics with a cottage core aesthetic . You can find many recommendation lists online for specific genres such as scary SFF webcomics, LGBTQ webcomics, and newbies webcomics. You can also sort comics by genre to find exactly what you’re looking for on the Tapas app / website. Basically I’m saying what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start exploring.
Get free access to the first issues of a series of Marvel comics from this section of the Marvel website. If you’re looking for an introduction to the Marvel series, this could be a good place to start. Certainly not comprehensive, but you can find a number of great editions from Immortal Hulk, Uncanny X-Men, Shuri, The Might Thor, The Life of Captain Marvel, and Venom to name a few. Not as comprehensive as some of the other websites and apps mentioned on this list, but if you’re a Marvel fan they are still worth checking out.
You can find both new and old editions in the Free to Read section of DC Universe Infinite. The list of comics available seems to be changing, so keep an eye on the page to see what’s available. From now on you can watch the first edition of Sweet Tooth as well as CatWoman / Tweety and Sylvester. It might not be a huge selection, but hey, it’s free!
Exactly As Advertised: This is a section of the Barnes & Noble website that has a selection of their free Nook e-book comics and graphic novels. This is not a bad business! A surprisingly large number of DC works are offered, including Superman Smashes the Clan, Supergirl: Being Super, and DC Universe Rebirth Batman. Other imprints like IDW and First Second appeared under the Graphic Novels & Comics Ebooks tab. Most of the downloads are just sneak peaks or previews, but others have an issue or two so it’s definitely worth checking out. You just have to be willing to scroll a bit to find the hidden gems.
Even more free webcomics to keep you busy and entertained! Like Tapas, WEBTOON can be accessed over the web or through an app and has a variety of incredible comics to read online for free. Make sure to check out Lore Olympus, which will also be published by Del Rey Books later that year.
I have grouped these two together because, although they contain slightly different content, their selection aims to do the same thing: to provide access to a wide variety of Golden Age and Silver Age comics in the public domain. Will you recognize most of these titles? Probably not. But if you’re looking for lesser-known vintage comics, or you’re looking for a specific out-of-print edition, you might find it here.
Although Comixology is a paid comics subscription database through Amazon, the app also offers a number of comics and graphic novels for free download. A quick perusal revealed a number of gemstones such as Lady Mechanika, Black Panther, Faith Vol. 1, and The Walking Dead, which are available for free.
Did I mention how useful a library card is? In addition to the comics and graphic novels that you can find on the shelves of your local library, most libraries also offer their customers a number of other apps and databases that you can access from the comfort of your home. Like Hoopla, Libby is an app that has tons of e-books, audiobooks, and comics to check out on your phone. You can even save and mark up tracks that you want to read later for easy searching.
Choices change based on the specific database used by your local library, but each one I’ve used kept me entertained with great new (and old) comics and graphic novels to read. And all for free! Thank god for libraries.
These are some of my favorite resources for reading comics online for free. They have served me well over the years and I hope they will help you delve even deeper into the world of comics and graphic novels. Happy reading!