Gummi Bears to Boing Boing for the pointer to the Digital Comic Museum, available at http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/.
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!
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