ACBF, an open/free digital comics format

Robo Pastierovic has created Advanced Comic Book Format (ACBF), a free/open format for online comic books. ACBF has a lot of cool features: support for creator metadata; per-panel/page definitions; multiple text-layers for multiple languages; text formatting and style data; auto-indexing and more. The format is CC-BY-SA, and can be found on Launchpad, along with GPL'ed viewers for GNU/Linux and Windows. There's screenshots, too. Robo was kind enough to convert the comic adaptation of my story Craphound, which appeared in my CC-licensed graphic novel Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales of Here and Now -- he also translated the comic into Slovak and included the translation in a separate layer.


  1. I’ve always complained about the lack of Metadata in regular CBR files. I mocked up an XML file that can be included in existing CBR files, but never followed through with it to gain traction.  (Similar to how ID3 tags work with MP3s)

    *Edit* I see now that Robert’s approach is similar to what I’ve always wanted! I just wish it was an extension of the CBR format, and not a whole new thing.

    1. Why the hell would you want to continue using the vile monstrosity that is RAR for comics.  Zip is great because it is fast, unencumbered and completely ubiquitous.

      1.  This is also not an extension of .cbz either. Using the .cbX formats as a base would have gone a long way towards gaining traction.

  2. IDK… I can’t really say that I’m optimistic that this will go anywhere. The main stumbling block will be to try to get publishers and app developers to adopt the idea. And I just don’t see them doing it.

    When I first discovered CBML , I thought it was going to make a real impact. Unfortunately lack of interest from creators lead to lack of development and it now sits festering. Which is a shame, because I think it could do all of what ACBF attempts to do and in a more accessible way.

  3. While conceptually interesting, it is unlikely to be useful for several reasons: CBZ is “good enough” for most purposes involving scans and scanlations.  It lacks network lock-in and DRM and thus is an anathema to the present business models of commercial apps, even if these are good things. Finally metadata is an anathema to scanlation in that it allows for easy detection by copyright maximalists.

    The truth of the matter is that the current insane business climate standardization and metadata are discouraged.

  4. I think it will fail based purely on the fact that it’s not a government agency or advocacy group and is using a four letter abbreviation. Three letters or acronym, that is my belief.

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