Let’s suppose you have downl… ahem… produced a cool comic book. A digital comic book that exists in the form of several image files inside a folder. How do you distribute them to other people to read? Or how do you organize them neatly in your computer? You may have put the individual images in a folder for each magazine or you ZIP or RAR the images, right?
What if I told you that there is an easy way to grab all those image files, put inside one compressed file and make it an actual comic book file that you can double-click and start reading? Kinda like a PDF? And not only that, but it comes with support for thumbnails and doesn’t require anything more complex as the WinRAR or 7-Zip programs to make?
Meet the CBZ file format! Here’s how you make them:
- Step 1: Grab all the images that makes the comic book and put inside a ZIP file.
- Step 2: Rename the ZIP file extension to CBZ.
- Step 3: That’s it.
Making them is really that easy. But how do you read the CBZ files?
You have now your comic book collection sitting nicely on compressed ZIP files, showing their covers as thumbnails and you can simply double-click them to read.
You can put all kind of image files inside the ZIP file to make a CBZ. As long as they’re in order, the first image is the cover, then the second is the page 2 and so on…
They don’t even need to be actual comic book pages, so you can make all sort of stuff with the file format. Like… umm… manga! 😛
You can use other file formats too!
- CBZ are renamed ZIP files. Prefered because of the ample support.
- CBR are renamed RAR files.
- CB7 are renamed 7Z files.
- CBT are renamed TAR files.
- CBA are renamed ACE files.
If you have comic books in your PC, consider organizing them into CBZ files! And if you’re distributing homemade comic books, consider serving them in CBZ too!
Up your game: Metadata
So, let’s assume you organized your stuff in CBZ files and you have a nice collection of comic books. How else could you improve their organization? You can add metadata into the files!
One of the specifications you can use is the ACBF (Advanced Comic Book Format). It adds a RDF XML file thingy together with the image files to help programs that can read the info showing you more details about the comic book, like the proper title, author, issue number, table of contents, etc. Can also be used to add translation of the comic book in several languages while preserving the images themselves too. Nice format, but support is still limited as of right now.
There is a more popular ComicInfo.xml format, based on ComicRack. It’s simpler and got a lot of support on other programs. The issue is that there’s no proper specification that I could find and ComicRack itself is not available from download by the developer anymore. Meh.
It’s not something you need to do if all you want is to download and read comic books, but if you’re gonna make one, it could come in handy.
I’ll pass. Can I make PDFs?
If you still think making PDF files are the better option, there are several easy ways to make them.
One that I know it works is using NAPS2. It is meant to be a scanner manager, but you can drag image files inside it and export them as PDF. It’ll even attempt to OCR the text on the images if you install the optional OCR files, but as far as I know you can’t edit them yourself. It’s free too.