Yesterday was the big day for the launch of Dark Horse’s digital store — and apparently it was a hit — at least one server melted from the onslaught of fans, according to a press release:

Earlier today, Dark Horse’s iOS app and digital store went online and opened for business! Even after extensive load testing, demand for Dark Horse digital comics was still too high for our servers!  Thousands of fans rushed to download our digital comics, resulting in intermittent service outages.  

We can attest that signing up late in the day took a long time. However, the initial rush seems to be over.

The app can be downloaded from iTunes, or you can sign up on any web browser. No Android version yet.

The launch includes several free comics:

Beasts of Burden #1
Conan #0: Conan the Legend
Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom/Magnus, Robot Fighter (FCBD 2010)
Dungeon Siege III #1
Falling Skies #1, #2, and #3
Grendel: Behold the Devil #1
Kull: The Shadow Kingdom #1
Solomon Kane #1
Solomon Kane: Death’s Black Riders #1
The Terminator: Death Valley #0 and #1
The Terminator: 2029 #1
The Umbrella Academy #0

Signing up for the newsletter gets you free first issues of
Criminal Macabre
Abe Sapien: The Drowning
The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite
Mass Effect: Redemption
Joss Whedon’s Fray 

Bundles of single issues like Axe-Cop or BPRD replicate the graphic novel experience and are priced at a reasonable amount.

We checked out a few free comics and the guided panel view was a little slow on our old computer. We haven’t downloaded the iPhone app yet, but Brigid Alverson gave the iPad version a test drive, and liked it:

As I said, the navigation of the iPad app is pretty standard. It avoids the mistakes made by others—for instance, when you download a comic, the button underneath it says “Read Now,” not “Delete,” as in the Comics + viewer, which requires you to navigate to your bookshelf before reading. The Browse menu has categories for free comics, new comics (added within the last two weeks), series, and genres, which I think addresses pretty well how people really think about comics.

The store is also the best organized we’ve seen from anyone, with all issues arranged alphabetically by title.

Dark Horse had a lot of delays in getting this out there due to Apple throwing its weight around (the store was originally planned to bypass the app store entirely) but it’s a pretty solid entry into the market for now, with a strong content lineup — and, when you buy a comic, you keep it.

The entire lineup of available comics can be read here.


  1. In terms of “keeping” the comic book after buying, I don’t think it’s any different than what other services provide. On iOS, they all download locally as well.

  2. Yeah, according to their FAQ, “buying” does not mean “owning”. It is like paying to go to read a comic at the library. Perhaps we could call this a “reading fee” or a “long term comic lease”.


    Do I own the digital comic I purchased?

    You do not. As with Amazon, Nook, and other e-book companies, you don’t own the book you buy; you license the right to read it on supported and authorized devices.

  3. Am I the only one that thinks that it is a little excessive for Dark Horse’s individual issues to be 3GB in size? For an iPad 3GB not a big deal (and is arguably appropriate), but for an iPhone that’s kind of a large amount of memory compared to other iPhone-format comics.

  4. When I initially tried using the app on my iPhone yesterday, a warning popped up that I was about to download 3 GB (yes, “GB” with a “G”).

    However, when I tried using the app late last night, that warning did not appear and the file sizes seem to be in the range that you indicated (which is much more reasonable).