How to read comics on your Kindle

Features Spanner Spencer 11:58, 24 Jul 2012

If e-ink looks so much like paper we should be drawing on it, as well as writing on it. So here’s a great way to read your comics on your Kindle.

"Books are from the devil, and TV is twice as fast."

~ Master Shake, Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

If Shake is right, we're in luck. We've been dabblein' and tinkerfyin' with our Kindle e-reader devices over here, and figured out a great way to read comics - which are better than books on account of there being less words to angry up your blood, and they've got pictures - digitally.

If you've got a collection of digital comics, or like to make your own with a scanner or smartphone camera (which is quite achievable, and with great results), here's how to get them on your Kindle.

Digital Comic Formats
The two most common formats for digital comics are CBZ and CBR files. They might sound obscure, but they're actually very easy to deal with. Both are simply compressed folders filled with sequentially titled image files, which have had their extensions changed.

If you've got a CBZ file you want to put on your Kindle, rename its file extension to .ZIP (as that's what it actually is - a Zip file). If it's a CBR file, change the extension to .RAR (the second most popular compressed file format.) That's the first step out of the way. Easy.

Download and install the free e-book management software Calibre. In all honesty, we find this to be rather cumbersome software that makes a simple job of creating e-books into a very complicated one, but given that it's free and does the best possible job of converting e-book formats, it's hard to complain too loudly.

Convert to MOBI
Drag and drop your renamed ZIP or RAR digital comic into Calibre. If you have several comics you want to put on your Kindle, you might as well bung them all into Calibre at once.

Select your comic (or comics) in Calibre, right-click them and select "Convert Individually" (if it's just the one comic book) or "Bulk Convert" (if it's more than one) from the "Convert Books" section in the drop-down menu.

Output Format
In the 'Convert' dialogue box, you've got an opportunity to tweak your comic book's meta data, which is never a bad idea. So give it the title, author, publisher, tags and any other info you want in the boxes up in the right-hand corner.

Select 'MOBI' from the 'Output Format' drop-down menu, and then click the 'OK' button. The dialogue box disappears, and you can see Calibre churning your comics in the 'Jobs' section down in the bottom left corner of the window.

Save Your Comic E-book
Once Calibre has finished the conversion ('Jobs' is back to zero), you need to save your new comic e-book -- as that's essentially what it's become, now it's in the MOBI format -- to your computer, or direct to your Kindle.

Right-click the comic book again in Calibre, and choose 'Save only MOBI format to disk in a single directory' (see what we mean about overcomplicating simple things?) from the 'Save to Disk' section. You can select multiple comics to save all at once, if you have them, and just use the same setting.

Choose a place on your hard drive to save the new .MOBI version of your digital comic books, or connect your Kindle via its USB cable, open it up and save the comics to the Kindle's 'Documents' folder.

Your comics are now ready for reading right from your Kindle!

NOTE: There is an option in Calibre to 'Save to device,' but we've had issues with that before now, and prefer to navigate to the device's 'Documents' folder manually. You have a choice, if the former works for you, of course.

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