Who doesn’t want free comics? From Europe? On-line?
First, The Bad News
Here’s a sad puppy picture to help soften the blow:
There’s not much hope. Comixology and Izneo are the two biggest digital comics distributors that deal in European comics.
Neither are giving anything away.
“Valerian and Laureline” v1 was a freebie for a long time (with a sale expiration date years away), but that recently went back to full price, too.
There are a couple of places to find free books, but there are catches.
Humanoids offers a free book every month. Often, it’s the first part of a longer series. That makes sense. They want to sell you something, so they give you the first half or first part for free so you can see that you like it. Then, the theory goes, you’ll come back to pay for the rest.
It’s a different book each month, so make sure you return again and again. And, yes, these are the English language editions.
Bamboo has a magazine series that’s available digitally which is an anthology of their one page gag strips. The trick here is, they’re all in French, and very few of them have ever been translated into English. I talked about Bamboo Magazine in greater depth last year.
And… that’s it.
Will Write for Free Comics
Izneo.com has a “Super Reader” program, where they will let you read a comic of theirs for free in return for a review.
Go to the page linked in the previous paragraph and choose a comic. That’ll give you a form to fill out. You basically send a request and wait for Izneo to approve you.
I have not gone through the program, myself, so I’m not sure of all the details. If you’re looking for something for free, a short fan review is not a huge price to pay.
Hacking Free Comics Yourself
This one takes a bit of work, but it can still prove entertaining:
If you want to read European comics (Free! Online!) that are single page gag books, you can read the previews available on-line and have lots of pages to read.
All of the digital comics distributors offer free samples so you can sample before you buy. Comixology will give you the first three pages of content, though the image size is small and you might need to hold the screen up close to your face to read it.
Izneo gives you 10 page previews, but that includes the cover, the title page, and even the blank inside front cover in that preview. Depending on how the publishers lays the book out, you might get anywhere from 3 to 6 pages of a book for free that way. If you have a longer-running series, you can read an awful lot of gags that way by paging through all the volumes.
The good news, though, is that the pages show up much larger than they do on Comixology.
Pro-Tip: There’s a funny French book called “Game Over” that’s not listed as being an English edition. But the book is all silent gags, so no translation is necessary. Even the final panel says “GAME OVER” in English every time.
If you’re a gamer, you’ll love this one. There’s more than a dozen volumes available of it, too. That’s plenty of free material (via previews) to read.
As you can see in the screen shot above, you’ll get about five new pages in previews out of each book.
Of course, you can always follow French creators with webcomics! Here are a few to sample:
Start with Lewis Trondheim’s watercolor adventures, “Le Petit Riens“
If you like Harry Potter, you’ll want to read “A Poudlard.” (The English translations aren’t working in my browser, but they might be there somehow if you try hard enough!)
The best part about reading webcomics in French is that it’s the best quickest lesson in learning the language. There are few words in there, and they’re often the most common words you’ve learned already. It’s a proud moment when I can get through an entire strip without going to Google Translate for help.
European Comics Cheap Online
Now, if you’re willing to shell out a few bucks a go, you just opened yourself up to a huge library of comics you can read in English. Izneo and Comixology have new sales almost every week where European comics sell for as little as $2.99.
Check out Comixology’s sales page weekly for the latest offers. You might have to scroll down a bit to get to the European comics, but they’re worth finding.
Keep in mind, these are full 48 page (or more) albums on sale for less than the price of 20 pages of Marvel or DC story. It’s still an amazing deal, if not completely free.
Izneo’s sale page is all European comics, so you won’t need to scroll as much. The sales are mostly the same as what Comixology has, but you will find differences from time to time. I have a feeling it’s due to geographic licensing concerns, but don’t quote me on that.
Do You Know of More?
Let me know in the comments below. I’d be happy to add onto this list!