We’ve all seen the responses to Amazon’s recent Comixology update, affecting the comic shop, app and web reader. Bleeding Cool’s category page on Comixology is a cumulative train wreck of posts describing discovery after discovery of bad design choices and a fundamental misunderstanding of the comic reader experience – as one Beta tester describes:
“As I told them, they're not thinking about this the way comic book readers/collectors think about it. And they still aren't.”
Comic creators and publishers have felt the pain too, with many unaware of the upcoming changes or at least the specifics of them. I wonder if Image Comics are regretting closing their own digital comic store in 2018 to move to Comixology...
Comic creator PJ Holden explains his disappointment:
“Really regretting my comixology digital collection, I think one year I spent nearly a grand on books - sometimes rebuying stuff I have already, sometimes finishing off collections that I had in print and moved to digital.”
If you’re looking for an audio overview of the situation, the team at the Talking Comics podcast go through a lot of the experience in their Comixology episode, titled ‘Garbology 4.0’.
“This is what happens when you put your trust in big business. They don't give AF. Mainstream doesn't care about your money as long as they have it.”
In the spirit of Jamie’s tweet, here’s a rundown of the comic shops included in Libreture’s list of DRM-free Bookshops. For both comic readers and creators.
DRM-free digital comic shops
Kyle is an illustrator, production designer and background painter working in advertising and animation.
His own comics for sale include The Hamburger Prince, and the two volumes of RPG Friends.
Kyle lives in Brooklyn, NY with his two sweet and beautiful cats.
Visit Kyle Fewell
Kaiten Books is a localization and publishing company driven to bring the best manga Japan has to offer to the English-speaking fans of the world!
The name is based off the famous sushi-go-round restaurants in Japan (called “kaiten-zushi”) and Kaiten's goal is to bring you as much variety in their releases as you would find on the menu in the finest Tokyo sushi bars.
The founders of Kaiten started the company as fans of manga. Now, they passionately work alongside the most premium talents in the localization industry to make sure each release is the highest quality it can be.
Visit Kaiten Books
Tim Bird a cartoonist living in south London.
Tim has published a number of comics through Avery Hill Publishing as well as creating self-published zines and contributed work to a diverse range of anthologies. In his comics, Tim is interested in exploring the history, mythology and memories contained within the landscapes that surround him.
Winner Best Comic at the 2015 British Comic Awards for Grey Area – From The City To The Sea.
Visit Tim Bird
Sarah Gordon is an artist and printmaker living in the sprawling beast that is London. She spends a lot of time making comics.
The Guardian once dubbed Sarah's work ‘disturbing’. ;)
"This book is just soooooooooooo good!I have taken it upon myself to brand Sarah Gordon's folk horror comics as the new sub-genre of Graphic Melancholy." - Review of Vicious Creatures - Andy Oliver at Broken Frontier
Visit Sarah Gordon
Wendy Xu is the co-creator of MOONCAKES and the creator of TIDESONG!
Wendy's work has been featured on Catapult, Barnes & Noble Sci-fi/Fantasy Blog, and Tor.com, among other places.
Visit Wendy Xu
The horror comics of artist Douglas Noble.
Making comics of unfriendly romance and geographic terror.
Visit Douglas Noble
A Pocket Chiller sees new nightmares and strange visions from a world next to yours. Who can say what will be next?
A collection of horror comics by Douglas Noble, Chris Reynolds, Claire Napier, Mark Stafford, Fraser Geesin, Robert Wells, and more...
Also available to buy at Itch.io.
Visit Pocket Chiller
A selection of digital works by critically-acclaimed creator, Jamie Me.
Hailing from Leeds, UK, Jamie is the creator of the Queen, START AGAIN and IRL comic books, as well as co-creator of Fabled Four!
Discover a new comic universe today!
Visit Jamie Me
Colin Craker is a comic artist, illustrator, and writer from Ireland.
Colin's art often revolves around character design, poster design, or sequential comic book art. And he has a deep love for everything comic books. Colin is the creator of The Agency Case Files series of comics.
Visit Colin Craker
Jennie (aka. Comicatrix) is a Swedish-born, UK-dwelling comic creator who loves handling traditional media such as watercolour, gouache, ink and pencil.
She's currently working full-time in the indie-comic scene. Some of her own series' include Skal, and By Man & Angels.
Visit Jennie Gyllblad
THE SOLAR GRID is an ambitious graphic novel by Ganzeer that explores the relationship between industrialism, enviornmentalism, colonialism, and race-relations on a spacefaring scale.
“The Solar Grid is an exhilarating and important slab of sci-fi comix.”
Visit The Solar Grid
How can a comic be as much of a surprise to the artists making it as it is to its readers?
What they did: 3 artists. They each choose 8 random subjects. Mix them all up and take back 8 per artist. They each write a story in secret that must include all 8 no matter what they are... The artists are randomly assigned each other's stories to illustrate.
They work in isolation and no one sees the results until completed. Now, we see it too. Our Idiot Corpse.
Visit Idiot Corpse
The Cloudscape Comics Society is a non-profit comics organization based in British Columbia dedicated to publishing BC graphic novels and fostering the local comics community.
As a far-reaching charity, Cloudscape has published over 25 graphic novels and anthologies, spearheaded comic book classes and workshops for the public, run special events and talks on the medium, created public artworks, and run numerous other activities that engage the public within the fascinating world of comics.
Comics are available to buy in PDF format.
Visit Cloudscape Comics
Artyom Trakhanov is a Siberian-born artist residing in St. Petersburg.
After his North American comics debut with Image's Undertow, Artyom worked on titles like Turncoat and The 7 Deadly Sins.
Artyom spends his nonexistent free time on SLAVIC NIHILISM, a creator-owned anthology that's published both in Russian and English.
His digital comics are available in CBZ & PDF formats.
Visit Artyom Trakhanov
Phillip Sevy began his comics career with "Heartless Dark" a weekly webcomic he wrote, penciled, inked, and colored. At its conclusion, Phillip attended the Savannah College of Art and Design where he got his MFA in Sequential Art. He was named a runner-up in the 2014 Top Cow Talent Hunt competition.
For Top Cow, he’s drawn The Freeze, Magdalena, Athena IX, Poseidon IX, The Tithe vol 2 as well as contributing to Witchblade 185 (the final issue of the landmark series).
Phillip is most known for his work on Dark Horse’s Tomb Raider series, which he’s drawn 16 issues of.
Phillip's 'Figh SZine' Oneshot, a silent comic that is one giant, sweeping, and epic fight scene, is available from his Gumroad shop.
The comic is available in either standard (free) or hi-rez (paid) PDF format
Visit Phillip Sevy
Comic book writer, Mario Candelaria, sells a limited selection of comics from his own Gumroad shop.
The most popular recent title is Tales from the Pandemic, written by MArio and illustrated by a range of artists.
Books are available in PDF format.
Visit Mario Candelaria
Jules is a comic artist based in Glasgow.
Over the last few years Jules have illustrated a few books in the graphic history series from icon books, most notably Queer: A Graphic History and Gender: A Graphic guide, written by Dr. Meg-John Barker. These books are available online and in all good book stores. Sexuality: A Graphic guide launched in late 2020.
Visit Jules Scheele
Panel Syndicate hosts DRM-free digital comics directly from creators to readers around the world, for whatever the hell they want to pay.
Panel Syndicate was founded in 2013 by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artists Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente to publish and distribute their creator-owned comic THE PRIVATE EYE, a forward-looking mystery whose success allowed them to open up the site to new series by different creators:
Creators keep all the rights to their series and you can download each and every one of our oversized issues, for any price you think is fair. 100% of your payments go directly into the greedy mitts of the authors and will help fund the rest of these stories that we're very proud to present, so thanks for reading...
Formats: PDF, CBR, CBZ
Visit Panel Syndicate
Wizard Zines by Julia Evans in a fantastic resource for programming, computing, and web tips!
Created as wonderfully illustrated printable comic books, Julia's titles are amazingly useful, and should be kept to hand by anyone who needs quick & easy IT reference material.
Bit Size Bash looks very handy!
Visit Wizard Zines
Lilyka is an imprint specializing in Yuri manga under the parent company, Digital Manga Inc.
LILYKA seeks to provide a wide array of Yuri content ranging from platonic to more explicit Yuri manga. They began this new imprint with works from Yuri doujinshi artists and hope to expand our selection as to have something for everyone, but by starting off with talented doujinshi creators like Moto Momono and TATSUBON, there is plenty to read already!
Their Yuri manga revolve around themes like comedy, slice of life, and tragedy. But their range is expanding. So if you like fluffy love stories or ecchi comedies, then take a look at Lilyka!
Books are in PDF, ePub (ePub Apple & ePub Kobo), Mobi, PRC, and CBZ.
Visit Lilyka Manga
Founded by Zainab Akhtar, ShortBox is a quarterly, independent comics box with a unique difference: they publish all our own comics.
Self-published, small press and independent comics continue to invigorate the medium and keep readers and publishers passionately invested. Intrinsically, the ShortBox sensibility is simply to publish fresh, interesting work, and to spotlight excellent artists around the world.
Their digital shop only stocks a few itmes, but are well worth owning.
Comics are available in PDF format.
Mira Ong Chua is the artist behind the popular My Very First Vampire Blood Drive comic series.
A director and story artist working on TV animation and making comics with a focus on queer romance, over-the-top humor and fantastical, dramatic themes, Mira is known for their F/F graphic novel ROADQUEEN: Eternal Roadtrip to Love. Their next work, Goodbye, Battle Princess Peony, will be released in 2021.
Comics are in PDF format.
Visit Mira Ong Chua
Queerwebcomic.com is a new small comics publisher located in Finland. No worries though, their comics are in English.
As QueerWebComics say:
"Have you noticed that every time you criticize a media for not having enough queer characters, a douchebag comes in and says "Why don't YOU do it better then?" Hence, now we do it."
"Say goodbye to the Dead Gays -trope and welcome to the Queerwebcomic.com shop where there's so many queer characters, it'd be impossible to kill them all off!"
Comics are in PDF format.
Creating great comics everyone can enjoy. From homespun heroes, to vegan vampires, we've got your comic cravings covered!
The online shop opened in 2014, and all their comics seem to be available in digital formats. Their books cover an eclectic range of stories and styles, but always interesting.
Well worth a look!
Digital comics seem to be in DRM-free PDF format.
Visit Not So Super Publishing
Irodori Comics localizes and publishes Japanese doujinshi for fans around the world to enjoy.
Doujinshi are self-published "indie" works, and as such, Irodori work directly with artists in order to produce localizations that are true to their original vision.This means giving works an authentic translation that keeps the nuance, and inserting hand-drawn sound effects that feel organic to the original artwork. By doing so, Irodori hope to expand Japanese doujinshi artists' reach by providing all of their fans an opportunity to support them directly whilst promoting the collaborative spirit of doujinshi culture across the world!
Comics are sold in high quality PDF format of 3200px or 2400px height.
Visit Irodori Comics
Get My Comics sell both physical and digital comics as well as the popular comic magazine, ComicScene.
Whether you are an avid follower of a couple of titles, or 50… if you love variant covers, or hate them… if you ever wondered how the hell you’re supposed to get all the parts in a crossover story when you only pick up one title from it… this site is for you.
Not all comics are available in digital format, but those that are, are sold in PDF format.
Visit Get My Comics
Power & Magic Press is an independent comics publisher in Portland, OR.
Our mission is the creative and economic empowerment of queer creators, creators of color, and creators at the intersections. The driving force behind P&M Press is Joamette Gil, a queer Afro-Cuban cartoonist and editor of the award-winning POWER & MAGIC: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology.
Comics are available to buy in PDF format.
Visit Power & Magic Press
BuySmallPress is an online comic selling platform.
This UK-based business hosts over 80 individual shops run by comic creators and small publishers, and started hosting digital comics in November 2020.
"Every product is sold via the publisher themselves. By purchasing from this site you are helping small and independent press grow and support your favourite creators at the same time."
The best way to discover comics through the site may be to browse the Store listings.
Visit Buy Small Press
We publish comics celebrating upcoming creators and diverse voices.
We're dedicated to transparency, and helping build a supportive and kind comics community. You can find us at most major Ontario conventions, and at our social events in Toronto!
Since our founding in 2014, we’ve sold over 8,000 books and raised over $90,000 on Kickstarter. We’ve been nominated for the Gene Day Award for excellence in self-publishing in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and were also nominated for the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Associations Aurora Award in 2016.
Comics are available in PDF format.
Visit TO Comix Press
Iron Circus Comics is Chicago’s largest alternative comics publisher.
Owned and operated by C. Spike Trotman, it was founded in the spring of 2007 to publish strange and amazing comics, amplifying unheard and unique voices, and giving creators a fair deal.
Digital comics are available in PDF format.
Visit Iron Circus Comics
A multi-award winning speculative fiction publisher based in Australia.
Coeur de Lion's works have won:
3 Aurealis Awards,
a Sir Julius Vogel Award
and a World Fantasy Award.
In 2014, they launched the free Dimension6 magazine, which
features the best new stories from established authors and fresh voices from Australia and overseas.
Books and magazines are available as both ePub and Mobi files.
Visit Coeur de Lion Publishing
The Italian comic creation and shop site, Comics Fu, is currently in its pilot stage, but looks very promising for both comic readers and creators.
A platform which enables authors to distribute their digital comics directly to readers.
Creators set the price for their work, and get their own shop page. The site automaticaly generates multiple formats from uploaded files to suit every reader, and takes a fee from each transaction.
While it's currently in Italian, the founders have expressed their desire to support more languages. Keep an eye on the full launch of Comics Fu for some great deals.
Comics are available in both high and low quality PDF, ePub (in different versions) and CBZ/CBR formats.
Visit Comics Fu
Dynamite's CEO and Publisher, Nick Barrucci explains that:
"Expanding into DRM-free content, made available directly to consumers from our website, is simply giving the consumers the option for what they want and how they want it, and continues to reach out to a non-traditional comic-reading audience."
Dynamite have a massive selection of comics. From Battlestar Galactica: Zarek to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, there's a range and depth to their collection. I'm going to dive into the Pathfinder titles and maybe some Bob's Burgers.
Visit Dynamite Digital
A part of OneBookshelf, DriveThru provide a number of online shops for digital comics, RPGs, fiction and card games.
Their comic shop is another place where the comic-hungry fan can discover titles from their favourite publishers. From 2000AD to White Wolf, there's plenty from across the genre spectrum, all in DRM-free PDF format.
If you can't find your comic anywhere else, try DriveThruComics.
Visit DriveThru Comics
Top Shelf have followed the other great comic book publishers and retailers by starting to convert to a DRM-free model.
They have a few ready right now, including title by Jess Fink, Robert Venditti, Brett Weldele and others. They'll be making many more books available DRM-free in the future.
Another great addition to a growing trend.
Visit Top Shelf Comics
According to the creators, Mark Waid and John Rogers, Thrillbent is
"...an experiment in new-media publishing."
The experiment seems to be a blend of free-to-view webcomics with DRM-free PDF download versions available to buy.
The webcomics are different from the usual static panels, though. They've been designed to seem dynamic when viewed online, but still work as PDFs when bought and downloaded. A very interesting direction, that I hope takes off.
And, of course, there's plenty of Cthulhu-related content.
The British comic book publisher, 2000AD have been providing DRM-free versions of their comics since 2007.
A great alternative to online comic services that don't let you download what you've bought. Along with the Rebellion bookshop they have your Dredd covered.
Available in both PDF and CBZ (Comic Book Archive) formats.
A micro publishing house based in Glasgow, Scotland, BHP was founded in 2001.
They only sell one series in digital format for now, Rok of the Reds, but they'll hopefully expand.
I expect the files are available as PDF, but there is no information available at this time.
Visit BHP Comics
And there’s more:
As well as regularly visiting our growing list of DRM-free Bookshops:
Keep an eye on our Bundles page for money-saving deals on DRM-free comics.
Leave no comic behind with Libreture’s support for PDF, CBR & CBZ files.
Keep up-to-date with comics, creators, the art and the industry with PanelxPanel magazine.