View Comics with Comix

Pow! Bam! Keraanng! Read your digital comics with Comix!
Quick, answer these trivia questions: What was the title of the comic book that saw the first appearance of Spider-Man? In a twist, who turned out to be the secret villain in the Identity Crisis series? Finally, name all seven of The Endless from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series.
If you could answer those questions, you, my friend, are a comic book nerd. But don’t get the wrong idea! Comic book nerds are just as cool as Linux nerds. And if you’re a Linux- and comic book-lovin’ nerd[ such as yours truly —Martin], check out Comix, a GNOME application that makes reading digital editions of comic books on your Linux box fun and easy.
Digitally-distributed comic books usually consist of a series of JPEG or PNG files that have been compressed into archives that end in .cbz,.cbr, or .cbt. cbz files use the zip compression algorithm, cbr files use RAR, and cbt files use tar and either gzip or bzip2. You could just unzip the archives and view the graphic files with Kuickshow, gThumb, or your favorite image viewer, but that’s not much fun, and it wastes a lot of hard disk space. With Comix, a program dedicated to comic book viewing, reading comics onscreen is about as easy as standing next to the racks with book in hand.

To get Comix, head over to http://comix.sourceforge.net, where you can download a tar file that contains a Python script that makes installing the program a snap. Before doing that, though, check if your distro doesn’t already package the program, as many already do. If you use (K)Ubuntu, for instance, just type apt-get install comix and you’re finished.
Once Comix is installed, you need to find a digital comic book file to read. Google is your friend in this endeavor, or you can ask around on any of the online forums dedicated to comic books. After you have a cbz, cbr, or cbt file, start up Comix, go to “Find& gt; Open,” and find your comic book. A few seconds later, true believer, and you’ce got comics, as the program decompresses the archive on-the-fly.
The heart of Comix is the viewer. You can jump from page to page, either forwards or backwards, or head right to the last page to find out how things end. You have a wealth of options for going forward in your comic: click the Forward button on the toolbar, left-click with the mouse, press Space, or press PageDn. You don’t have as many options for going backward — click Back in the toolbar or press PageUp.
In addition, you can view the page so that it all fits on your screen by using the Best Fit button, or you can see the image in 1:1 ratio with the Normal Size button. If you own a big enough screen, go to “View& gt; Double” to see two pages at a time. You can also use the Zoom In button to get a better look at Natasha Romanoff’s… uh, costume.
Comix has some cool extra features as well. You can bookmark pages that you like, making it easy to re-live favorite moments. You can also convert from one archive format to another. Just go to” File& gt; Convert,” and then choose the new format you want to use.
Comix has great features now, and new ones are coming, as it’s a project that is very much alive and kicking. In fact, there have been ten updates this year alone, which tells you that the developers are busy working hard to make Comix the best software of its type available to Linux users.
If you love comics, go get your hands on Comix!

Scott Granneman teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, consults for WebSanity, and writes for SecurityFocus and Linux Magazine. His latest book, Hacking Knoppix, is in stores now. You can reach him at class="emailaddress">scott@granneman.com. Here are the answers to the trivia questions: 1. Amazing Fantasy; 2. Sue Dibny, the wife of the Elongated Man; 3. Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium (or Delight).

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