Don’t go running to the piracy hotline — this site’s mission is to archive public domain, Golden Age comics and make them available for free. All that’s required to use the site is registration.
I have no idea how many comics are available on this site. Thousands? The Fawcett section alone has almost 1100 comics available. The front page has several categories of comics listed — from Ace Comics to Charlton Comics to Harvey Comics to OLD Ziff-Davis. There’s also a section for classic newspaper strips, UK comics, and Canadian comics.
You can do keyword searches as well as browse sections. I did a search for superhero and got seven results (doubtless would have gotten much more had I searched for a specific hero.) Comic detail pages include the size of the download (most of the ones I saw were about 25MB) and a count for the number of times the item has been downloaded. Some items also have reviews, ratings, and screenshots. The highest-rated item on the site at the moment is Thun’da, King of the Congo 001, which doesn’t sound very promising until you notice that the art is done by Frank Frazetta.
(Did anybody else notice that Thun’da has in certain panels almost the exact same hairdo as Superman? Hmmm…)
I downloaded issue #11 of “Little Al of the FBI.” The download was in a .CBR format, with which I wasn’t familiar. My archive software handled it fine, however, and soon I had a folder with 36 images in it, about 800K each. Each image was one page, and these scans were very large — 1280 x 1818 pixels. I could easily read each page with only a 40% zoom on my image viewer. Speaking of easy reads, whoever uploaded the issue also took care to include the ads.
Boing Boing mentioned this site in the context of reading comics on an iPad. It’s also fun to read them on the desktop. I’d start with the highest-rated comics on the site, then do some keyword searches. For extra fun do a search for romance and read some of those “Tru Romance” type comics. Oh, the pathos! OH, THE CHEESE!
Thanks to Schelly at Tracing the Tribe for the heads-up about Footnote.com and another of its free offers: this one making its historical newspaper collection free for the month of May.
Footnote’s historical papers are at http://go.footnote.com/newspapers/. The site claims four million pages. Before you start in with the keyword searching, though, explore the galleries on the front page, including vintage comics, news of the weird, and “outrageous ads.” As with the other content, you will need to be logged in (accounts are free) to explore the galleries. After you have amused yourself with Nancy building robots and the Post Toasties ad, you can browse (newspapers from 46 states are available) or do a keyword search. (You can also use the browse page to search with newspapers from a particular state if you like.)
My keyword search for circus found 88,156 results, with further refinements available, including newspaper, last name, place, and year. Confining myself to the Chicago Tribune still gave me about 15,000 results. Sometimes the search results gave me a snippet of context, sometimes I just got that the OCR software had found the word circus. You have the option to exclude OCR-only results, but that’ll leave you with a much reduced number.
The papers are browsable page by page, which is horribly distracting because they have everything — ads, photographs, comics, etc. Occasionally dark and smudgy, but the papers were always readable.
One thing I like about this collection (and which you’ll find different from a lot of other collections) is how recent some of the newspapers are. I did a search for computer and found a newspaper with a computer ad from 1989. There aren’t as many recent newspapers available, of course, but it’s a nice addition after so many collections that don’t go past 1930 or so.
You’ve got ’til the end of May to enjoy this collection from Footnote. Just be strong and don’t find yourself going through all the pages of a 1923 newspaper, gawping at the ads and totally forgetting what you were searching…
A big congratulations to The Internet Archive, which announced yesterday that it has hit two million free digital texts. The 2 millionth text, if you’re wondering, is Homiliary on Gospels from Easter to first Sunday of Advent, which is a thousand-year-old book, handwritten in Latin.
I don’t mind that it’s a thousand years old but I don’t think I’ll get past the Latin. If you’re looking for other books to explore, check out the Internet Archive Ebooks and Texts section at http://www.archive.org/details/texts. (Actually that section says it has 2.2+ million texts. I wonder where the others came from? Anyway.) The books here are divided into several sections, including books from American libraries (the largest section with 1.2 million texts), books from Canadian libraries, Open Source books, Project Gutenberg, and Children’s Library. If you want to browse check the nav on the right for the most popular downloads of all time, the most popular downloads of this week, and Editor’s Picks.
You can do keyword searches, too. If you want to do anything beyond a simple keyword search I recommend you go straight to
the advanced search page; there are so many fields available to search that it’s hard to remember them all. The advanced search is easier.
If you can’t think of anything to search for let me recommend a few fun ones. Try Joe Worker and the Story of Labor (it’s a comic!) or Punch (one of several volumes the IA has available) or, if you’re looking for a little Timothy Leary and Stewart Brand, how about a copy of Psychedelic
Review from 1967?
You’ve probably gotten the idea; The Internet Archive’s texts selection is huge and eclectic, and with over two million items now available you’ll have no trouble finding something of interest.
More goodness from Philipp over at Blogoscoped! I covered his Vintage Ads site a while ago but now I’ve found out about CoverBrowser at http://www.coverbrowser.com, which has both a huge collection of comic book covers (over 450,000+), more resources, and fun tools for playing with them.
If you looked at the Vintage Ad Browser this is going to look similar. The front page has a list of comic book titles through which you can browse, from “Archie Annual Digest” to “Zap Comix.” Some of the titles expand to show title sets (Archie, Flash, Hulk, Valian, etc.) Clicking on a title takes you to a page (sometimes several pages) full of covers. Mostly all the information available is just title and issue number, though sometimes there’s a link to buy the item on eBay.
You can also do a keyword search. I did a search for final and got over 400 results. While there were lots of comic book covers here, I also found video game covers, CD covers, and a couple of weird DVD covers.
If you just want to get a sense of what’s available here, you can check out the covers by picking them at random. There’s also a labs feature, at http://www.coverbrowser.com/labs. There are several features here. You can browse comics by color. You can play the tagging game, where you see if the tags you suggest for a cover match tags other people have suggested (a fun game and a good way of tagging all the available covers.) You can also fill the speech/thought bubble on a comic cover with your own words and then download the image using the speech bubbler.
(If you don’t like the cover you see, reload the page and you’ll get a new one.)
Philipp must have a lot of energy to keep putting together these great resources. A heck of a browse!
A hat tip to ResourceShelf to the pointer about Richard Graham, who has put together a digital collection of comics created/commissioned by the government. There are over 180 comics available in the collection which is located at http://contentdm.unl.edu/cdm4/browse.php?CISOROOT=%2Fcomics.
The comics are presented in a gallery of twenty to a page, with titles and thumbnails. Most of them are in English though I did see a few in Spanish and other languages. The topics range from the mail to nutrition to drugs to the military. (“Lil’ Abner Joins the Navy!”) There are comics available for the 1940s on up, and in some cases the comics have popular mainstream characters (including Wee Pals, Peanuts, and Dennis the Menace.)
Clicking on an issue provides information like subject, description, artist, date, and and keywords. But the very best part is that if you go to the detail page (I recommend Security is an Eye Patch, starting Charlie Brown and sister Sally) and click on the thumbnail of the comic’s cover, you can download the entire comic as a PDF.
I love this collection. It’s so random. The comics range from serious to kind of silly to intensely weird. Supergirl wants you to wear your seat belt. A 1973 army pamphlet on troubleshooting equipment in combat units. A 1954 comic book on the wonders of Wyoming. And if you’re at all interested in underground comics, don’t miss “Consumer Comix”, a 1975 comic book on consumer protection brought to you by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. I really hope that R. Crumb got to read that one.
The PDF downloads are sometimes a bit slow, but it’s well worth it. Enjoy!