A marvelous comic book archive viewer

Many of us enjoyed comic books in our teen years. Some of us have never outgrown them. While some people read an issue and toss it (or put it in a polypropylene bag to sell in 20 years), others like to keep their art archived and online. To help manage such collections, Bradley Swartout has created CBViewer, a program that lets you view compressed comic book archives.

A comic book archive is usually a CBR or CBZ file, which is really just a renamed RAR or ZIP compressed file. CBViewer lets you view the images in a comic book archive without first decompressing the file. It also lets you step forward and backward through archives in the same directory, as if you were reading from a stack of comic books.

But where do you find comic book archives? “I get my archives by the very boring and slow process of scanning in each page,” Swartout says, “or I buy them from They’re also available from other sites, such as and

“My original motivation to release CBViewer was an attempt to give back to the community for all the great software I have used over the years,” Swartout says. “I have been working on it for around six years. It is a hobby project for me, and I tend to add features as I feel the need for them, or if someone says, ‘Hey, I’d really like X in CBViewer.'”

Version 0.8 of the program came out last month, more than three years after the prior version. “Life got in the way,” Swartout says. “Since my first release of CBViewer I have had two more sons (bringing the total to four), gotten divorced, and found love again. But I have reached a point where I am able to work on the code again, and I plan to get another release out within the next three or four months.”

Swartout started writing CBViewer using Netbeans, but quickly grew frustrated with its automatic code generation and ended up using Emacs for most of the development. “But for most of the last few years I have been using jEdit, which is a wonderful, simple, clean editor.

“I decided to put CBViewer on because that was where a lot of the software I used was hosted. It has proven to be very reliable and allows a wider audience than just hosting it on my own web page. I also announce releases on when I do a release.”

In future releases, Swartout plans to integrate the JUnRar library into CBViewer to offer an alternative to having to have a separate install of unrar. “I am also planning on multiple-level scaling for the next release.”

Swartout says the goal of CBViewer has always been to do one thing – view comic archives – and do it well. He welcomes e-mail from anyone who’d like to help.


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