Wednesday, April 16, 2008

iComics - The iPhone Manga Reader Installation Guide

Use your iPhone/iPod Touch as portable manga reader.

Normally you'd expect that it should be a piece of cake. After all, the iphone has an excellent picture viewer and transferring pictures to and from the iPhone is supported by iTunes ... but for some arcane reason all pictures get scaled down - optimized - for out favorite handheld device. Good enough for pictures but it's nearly impossible to read anything these converted manga pages.

Happily there are other solutions, all requiring you to jailbreak your iphone. The second method I tried was using the browser application as picture viewer. This worked pretty good, but it's too complicated to realize in a hurry: You'd have to install a webserver on your iphone and write a script to generate html-files for each picture of a manga. After copying them to the iphone's site directory I was able to browse the manga at localhost, which worked pretty well in good quality and quite comfortably.

However, it's simply easier using a dedicated program for just that purpose: iComic

In the following paragraphs I'll steer you through the tedious process of getting that thing to run on your iPhone/iPod touch, which isn't always as unproblematic as one might hope.
I used this method on the following system configuration:

  • Windows XP
  • iTunes
  • ZiPhoneWin 3.0
Mobile device
  • iPod Touch 16gb
  • Firmware 1.1.4
  • iComic 0.10

  1. Jailbreak your iPhone.
    To do this, download the best jailbreaker from ZiPhone at his homepage:
    Don't worry, it's pretty comfortable these days. See a video on CNET with a live jailbreak:
  2. Prepare your jailbroken iPod.
    This means installing software using the newly installed installer application. Enable WiFi, Edge or whatever for Internet connection. Tap on the installer icon. This might take a while, since the installer will scan the net for new programs to install. The first thing we have to do is to enable access to the iPod's file system. If you're afraid of doing so then kiss iComic goodbye.
    Tap 'Install' on the bottom panel. The software repository is organized in categories and i'll just list the categories and applications you'll need:
    • System -> BSD Subsystem
      Unix tools for the iPhone. Needed for ssh.
    • System -> OpenSSH
      Allows remote access
    • Network -> Pure-FTPd
      If you prefer FTP to ssh, then use this app instead of OpenSSH and BSD. I have both, so no worries.
    • Utilities -> BossPrefs
      A system management app. Allows you to enable/disable ssh, ftp and other services. Pretty much a hub for system settings.
    This is pretty much all you need for preparation.
  3. Install iComic.
    There are several ways to do this but I'll only cover the installer version. If you want to do it manually, download the latest version from the author and good luck to you.
    Enter the installer again. This time tap on sources. Then tap on 'Edit' in the top right corner, followed by 'Add' in the top left.
    Enter this string:
    Wait for the update. After that you can install iComic:
    • Multimedia -> iComic (1.1.3)
    Ignore the 1.1.2 version unless you have the 1.1.2 firmware installed. iComic 1.1.3 works with both 1.1.3 and 1.1.4 firmware.
  4. Install ssh/ftp file-transfer software .
    Since we provided the iPod with ssh/ftp access, you'll need a program on you PC to actually chuck them over. My recommendation:
    I don't know any good Mac Programs. Drop me a note and I'll add one.
    Download the software and install then start it.
  5. Connect to iPod and Transfer files.
    Start BossPrefs. You should see a SSH or FTP trigger right from the start. If not, enable it in the 'Config' menu in the upper left. Enable SSH/FTP and WiFi.
    Switch to your SSH client (e.g. WinSCP) and create a new connection. Fill in these values:
    • Host name: [your iPod IP] e.g.
    • Protocol: SCP
    • Port: 22
    • Username: root
    • Password: alpine
    For some reason, I sometimes have problems connecting with a preset password. If you have the same problem, erase the password and just type it manually when prompted. Save and connect.
  6. Enable english language
    Use WinSCP to navigate to the installation path of the iComic application:
    • /Applications/iComic
    You'll find a few files and a subfolder named "Japanese.lproj". Rename or remove the "Localizable.strings"-file inside that folder and the iComic application will default to english language. Alternatively you can enter the folder and translate the "Localizable.strings" file to your language.
  7. Copy Manga to the correct target folder.
    Emphasis on correct. Depending on the iComic and firmware version the target folder for comics are at different locations.
    For iComic 0.10 (1.1.3) the correct folder is at
    • /var/mobile/Media/Comic
    For older versions the path was
    • /var/root/Media/Comic
    Create the folder if it doesn't exist yet. Enter the folder and then simply copy zip-archives with pictures into it. You can even organize it by creating subfolders.
    Note that all mangas have to be zipped and all pictures inside the zip have to be either jpg, png or gif.
  8. Start iComic
    Everything should work fine now. iComic has many options to tweak, so look inside and experiment. Personally, I prefer flipping pages with the "invisible buttons" although I don't know if they are supposed to be invisible or if that's just a bug.
    Enable "Button Page Slide" in the settings menu and then you'll be able to navigate like shown in the picture.
That's it.
I'll think about releasing iphone ready mangas but most mangas already are. You just have to stuff the images in a zip and you are done.

Cheers !

I case you encounter difficulties you might want to discuss it in some forums. Try these for help:

Mention my site ;)


Darksbane said...

Thanks, your guide was the best one I've seen for getting this working on my 1.1.4 touch.

DirtyFinger said...

I hope so, because I never found a guide that enabled me to use the reader ... i stitched it all together from about 5 guides and lots of forum posts ...

i'm glad i could save someone else the frustration.

Anonymous said...

do i have to change permission to 755?

DirtyFinger said...

all the other guides say so. it doesn't hurt.
haven't tried otherwise.

Anonymous said...

i have followed all the instructions, i used total commander to install, i hope thats ok.
the icomic icon is on my springboard
i open it and it closes after a few seconds.
can anyone help me.

DirtyFinger said...

that's something that didn't happen to me in all my failed attempts.

i don't know the copy mode names of total commander, but you can usually specify if you want to send something as binary or not. likewise, the permissions might be set in a way icomic objects to.

anyway, looks like a program error so check if you have the 1.1.4 firmware and the correct icomic version.

yonsson said...

Nice guide!
Do you have any good links for downloading comics?

The once I've found so far have downloadlimits they are really disorganized.

DirtyFinger said...

i usually leech them at
or other torrent trackers like

in some cases you'll have to convert the pages to a lower resolution (width 480px for single pages) or icomix will be dreadfully slow.

fireswan said...

Hey, fantastic guide! Just a quick question, what happens if icomic just won't install, and no matter what you do, going through total commander or the installer, it just doesn't install at all?

fireswan said...

ok dw I've fixed it! just had to uninstall some apps :-P

Anonymous said...

which app did you have to uninstall fireswan? i mananged to load up the app, and see the comics that i have on there but as soon as i ask icomic to start the comic, it crash back out to the springboard, anyone have any ideas? i have already changed all the permissions to 755 including the zip files.

DirtyFinger said...

best method of finding out would be to start with a clean jailbroken ipod. install icomics and add other apps successively.

-Lnk- said...

i downloaded it in english....added a comic to var/mobile/media/ pops up in the menu but when i go to open it up the program closes....what do i do?


DirtyFinger said...

does this happen with every comic or just this one ?
does this happen with comics you downloaded here ?

since i don't have that problem i can only give you hints on how to narrow it down. for more help try a forum.

Anonymous said...

I use iEnvision application from iTunes. Yes I paid for it, but it was worth for me.
It takes manga from One Manga, I can zoom as well. Pretty good. I am reading now bleach only from my iPhone.

BTW great site, I am going to get something from here.

Anonymous said...

awesome!! :D

Adnane Tmart said...

I've done everything, but when i try to login in WinSCP i always get a Network error: Connection timed out, any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks

Anonymous said...

if you don't want to use WinSPC try iphonebrowser - it's a lot easier to use for most people.

Anonymous said...

Your guide is great! Thank you!
However since its geared toward pc users, is there a mac guide/support? I've been trying to upload my anime from the file sharing option on my macbook but icomic gives me a "not support file" error even though its a png file.

Shah said...

Hey guys, check this out, a web app to read OneManga on iPhone and iPod Touch.

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Unknown said...

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