reading digital comics

This morning, I decided that I’d like to read the Dresden Files comic series that I bought as part of a Humble Bundle last year. I’m using Comic Zeal on my iPad to read DRM-free digital comics. I’ve been using it for a while, and it works pretty well.

Getting comics onto the iPad is, theoretically, easier than it used to be. In the old days, there weren’t too many apps that had good support for loading files into them from external sources. GoodReader was the first iOS app that I can think of that had good support for loading in files from multiple sources. But now, there’s a lot better support for this kind of thing, due mostly to the support for document providers added in iOS 8. So Comics Zeal now supports loading in files from iCloud, DropBox, Google Drive, and OneDrive (and possibly more, but those are the ones I’m using).

Humble also now has a web interface where you can access and download all past purchases. And Safari now lets you download and open files in specific apps, and Comic Zeal supports this. So my first thought was to go to the Humble site, sign in to my account, and download the comics. The series I want to read is a five-issue series and all five issues are separate files. So I went ahead and tried downloading the first issue from the web. It worked well enough, but it took a long time to download, and the default file name under Humble’s library is a bit weird, so I thought maybe I should try a different method.

So I booted up my desktop PC, where I know I already had the comics downloaded, and copied them up to my Google Drive. After waiting for them to sync up, I then tried to pull them into Comic Zeal. No dice. I could see them, but clicking on them did nothing. After struggling with that for a while I gave up and decided to sync them across the old-fashioned way, with iTunes File Sharing. That worked.

So, after all that, I just sat down and opened issue #1. The cover looks good. Then, I swipe to get to page 1. And… Comic Zeal crashes. Now, this is probably not Comic Zeal’s fault, entirely. All sorts of things could be wrong here; the CBZ file could have gotten corrupted at one of several stages. But it’s frustrating, either way.

So I downloaded the file again from Humble, and checked the MD5 checksums on both copies, and they’re both identical. And Humble lets you see the MD5 on their web site, and that’s the same too, so the file isn’t getting screwed up on download. So I gave up on the CBZ file and downloaded the PDF. Then I copied that up to Google Drive and tried to download it into Comic Zeal. That worked, so I guess the original issue with Google Drive is that it doesn’t want to let you download CBZ files, but PDFs are ok. (Which doesn’t make any sense, but ok.)

And I opened the PDF in Comic Zeal, and I can (at least) get to page one now, so here’s hoping I can get through the rest of the issue. Then, we’ll find out if the CBZ files for issues 2 through 5 are good, or if I’m going to have to replace them with PDFs too.

Oh, and the series I’m trying to read is War Cry, which should be pretty good. I haven’t read any Dresden comics before, but they’re co-written by Jim Butcher, and they’ve gotten generally positive reviews, so I’m hopeful.

But if I’d had the trade paperback instead of digital files, I’d probably be done reading the whole thing by now!

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