My Digital Comics Manifesto

So, it’s been a little over a month since I really tried out digital comics on my iPad. Over this time, I have mentioned a few observations in my articles, and, much to my chagrin, over this time I have become a full convert to digital comics. With this article I wanted to share, hopefully one last time, some thoughts on what digital comics is bringing to fans of the medium.

First off, I realize that digital comics are nothing new. I’ve been reading web comics for years, and have read a few issues of this and that on various platforms, including Graphicly’s, for awhile now. But when DC decided to go day and date digital with the print versions of its books, I took it as a chance to really begin anew, to really commit to getting my comics digitally–if the experience was what it had to be. My reasons, by the way, were one of real estate–I just don’t have the room to store all of the comics I have collected over the years. I don’t have the time–or, more precisely, I don’t want to make the time–to go through my comics and organize them by title, all nice and neat, only to have to do it all over again after a year or so. (Yes, I am aware there are ways around this, but still–we’re talking about a lot of boxes.)

I must also admit to being rather skeptical of digital comics. What about the feel of the paper? What about the art–how would it look? What about the ability to hand them to someone and say, “hey, check this out?”  Would digital comics make reading comics more of a private thing, like listening to music in headphones? What about kids? The books in those spinner racks inspired a generation of comic book fans. But a month ago, I just went for it, and here are my thoughts.

The art just looks better.  There. I said it. The art looks better than it does in print. Yes, it looks different–projected light is different than reflective light–but in terms of reflecting the artist’s intent, I would argue that reading comics on an tablet or a computer screen is more successful. How many times have you read comics before you go to sleep, with just a lamp helping you read? When I read comics on my iPad at night, I can have that lamp off and still get a true representation of the art. Indeed, a lot of art (and pretty much all coloring) is done on computer, so we’re seeing exactly what the creators were putting on the screen. The range of color is deeper as well, when you compare screen to the printed page. Not to mention that the artist can use the backlight to add another dimension to the art. Green Lantern #2 has a page where Sinestro is using his ring and there is this fantastic glow emanating from the ring, pulsing throughout the page. And though I admit it is a pain to have to turn the iPad on its side when reading a double page spread, you get to see the entire two pages completely intact. Indeed, J.H. Williams is doing some fantastic two page spreads that seem designed more for the screen than two printed pages. Look at Flash #1 and zoom in on the art. You get a real sense of the layers of color Manapul is using and it is just beautiful to behold; I didn’t think it was possible, but I am even more crazy about his art, now that I have the opportunity to get so close to it.  I have a feeling that as artists start designing with screens in mind, we’ll see even more creative ways the medium impacts the format.

Guided View is actually kind of cool. This is probably going to rub some people the wrong way, but I have been enjoying the “directed” experience with some of my comics. Indeed, I will go back and forth between a guided view and a regular view while reading a single comic. Not only does it build up dramatic tension in a pretty novel way, but it helps with confusing layouts. Batwoman #2 has several two page spreads that almost require the guided view to be turned on and while that’s not necessarily a good thing, to be sure, it’s fun to watch the “camera” move from section to section. While guided view is not a “must have,” I think it does add a certain cinematic quality to comics that is novel, and might be something that brings in new readers, who are used to a bit of “hand-holding” in their stories in film and TV.  Guided view should always be an option, I think, because part of the fun of comics is figuring out the pages, but I am surprised how often I have turned it on.

It is a lot easier to remember the story with digital comics. Possibly the most welcome aspect of having all of my recent comics in one place (i.e. my iPad) is being able to go back to older issues to remember what is going on in the story.  I remember several times when I had to go back to my old stacks and fish out an issue because there was no recap in the comic I was reading.  I actually think I am getting more for my money now, because while I have always technically had access to my books, it was always a pain to get to them. Now I can really be caught up when I get a new issue and I am catching story points and character nuances that I know I had missed before.

No more bent pages. Digital comics don’t get torn, they don’t get bent and they don’t get wet–your device might get ruined, but you can just re-download lost files.  Digital comics may not last as long as print comics on their own, that is, if you don’t back them up, blah blah blah, but if you are responsible about keeping your devices backed up and all that, you’ll have them for a very long time.  Yes, there caveats to this, but my primary point you don’t have to worry about someone messing up your comics when they read them, and that’s a good thing.

There are other points, too, including how much easier it is to take screenshots of books for these articles, a consideration for a tiny few, but those are the main points I wanted to make. Oh, and the fact that there are very few, if any, advertisements. The ads in comics are almost always of no interest to me at all, and completely hamper the storyline. Yes, TV shows have commercials, but the shows are designed to build up to the ads – how many times have you turned the page in anticipation of some insane story beat only to have your experience dislodged by some stupid Colgate ad?  Drives me crazy.

Digital comics are not only more convenient to store, view and read, but they also give readers a more true vision of the artist’s intentions, and make it very easy for readers to keep up with the story. The thrill of being able to take all of my month’s comics around with me wherever I go cannot be overstated.

So, what happens next? Well, I can tell you that if a comic book I like is not available digitally, I will pick it up and enjoy it just fine. I will continue to pick up original stories in book form, despite the fact that I am buying my normal books digitally now. There are just some stories that need to be in book form, like the Parker books by Darwyn Cooke and anything by Matt Kindt.  And that’s great–digital comics make it easier for me to stay involved with monthly comics and printed books will always be welcome one of of my many bookcases.  Print is not dead; if anything, print special now.

The next few years will be interesting, as I continue to give away my paper single issues and decide whether or not to buy them again digitally or in physical trade. I don’t see me giving up printed monthly comic books any time soon, though I will never buy as many as I used to.  I’m fine with that. It’s kind of time.

So those are my thoughts on digital comics. What do you think? Has anything about digital comics surprised you, or are you steadfastly print-only?

 


Mike Romo is an all-digital actor in Los Angeles. You can reach him through email, visit his facebook page, connect with him on google +, and collect his tweets on twitter.

Comments

  1. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    I’ll dive in as soon as I get a tablet.

  2. thompsonlive thompsonlive says:

    I’m pure digital now and will never look back! Such a better experience overall. However I will still occasionally get hardcover trades for my all time favorites like Invincible, Ultimate Spirder-man, etc. If it’s not available digital in issues then it’s an instant no buy or wait for trade as far as i’m concerned.

  3. Neeks Neeks says:

    I’ll try it out when i finally am able to get an ipad but until then its straight print for me. Call me crazy but im still one of those ppl that enjoy picking my books up each week, and actually owning physical copys of something i end up spending money on…. the taking up of space is the only issue i agree on

    • my wife and i got into the show “hoarders” and my whole “i need to own the physical thing” really changed in my mind. Movies, books….media in general. They tend to be a ‘use just once’ thing for me, so i’m not that concerned with the physical object anymore unless it is truly special.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      Dude, my family is going to BE on Hoarders some day. Just wait. I’m surprised we haven’t found a dead cat or something.

    • thompsonlive thompsonlive says:

      yeah I view the physical possesion part exactly how I did with CDs, VHS, DVDs, etc. I used to have shelves full of that junk and now that i’m all digital with music and videos and my life is so much cleaner and I dont miss any of that junk. Just wasted space, time, and energy.

    • Neeks Neeks says:

      Ya @thomsponlive you brought up a good point but unlike comics which i dont download pirated stuff of off the internet, i do however download music and movies this way.

      In the process i dont pay anything so why would i pay the same price to own a digital copy of something as opposed to something i can own and hold and read in my own hands and much rather prefer. To each his own though

  4. Rob3E Rob3E says:

    “… and, my to my chagrin, over this time I have become a full convert to print comics …”
    Misprint? Starting off the article professing your love of print, and then explaining why digital is better is a little confusing.

  5. I really enjoyed the article. I was slightly confused by the first paragraph though. Did you mean to say you’ve become a full convert to print or digital? Just a bit confusing.
    But I thought this was ahold article for me at this since I just purchased an iPad and had considered going digital even though Marvel is not yet doing same day print for downloads. I really enjoyed the couple digital comics I did download but comixology does not make it easy for you to use their service. I don’t quite understand how they have set up their digital store it that may be more of a case of user error than anything else.

  6. I agree with a lot of your points about digital..especially on the art and color fronts. There are so many things that probably get lost in the printing process especially with subtlety. I’ve never really placed much value on the “feel of the paper” mostly i’ve been distracted by the fact that i paid $4 for junk mail. I’m a bit of a bleeding heart, and i started to feel guilty for all of the energy, resources and pollution required to bring me a monthly story that takes me 10 minutes to read.

    I personally enjoy the digital experience a lot more. I like getting one page at a time, and the guided view thing is something that i’m still trying to figure out. I hope creators start designing for the digital space and take advantage of what the format can do. Also addressing typography and lettering for digital reading is important.

    I really enjoy the freedom from Diamond and the archaic pre-order system. I hate the constant disappointment that stems from not being able to find a lot of comics that people are buzzing about because it wasn’t stocked and i didn’t pre-order. Honestly that entire aspect of comics was pushing me out. Digital comics are keeping me reading comics.

    The idea that print is special is very important. Book publishers especially those who deal in art and coffee table books recognized the trend years ago that the book needs to become an special object again. It can no longer be cheaply made or feel mass produced, or have cheap looking content if they want to stay relevant. I’d love to see less books being printed, but more quality books. As if going to press is a curated experience. Paper, printing, binding…they should be as special as the content and meant to be kept for a long time.

  7. elfrawg elfrawg says:

    I agree 100% (with sadness). I’ve also gone digital, not counting the few Marvel comics they haven’t yet made day/date. Your points echo mine exactly. The art looks better, and Guided Mode kicks ass. It displays each and every panel like a splash page. The artist’s work is right up in your face and you can really appreciate the art better.

    I often find myself lingering on a panel longer than I would’ve on a whole page. My ADD will keep my eyes darting all over a page, often skipping over panels to the brightest, shiniest panel on the page. This keeps me focused panel-by-panel, and the reading experience is longer and better.

    One other thing to note is that it’s easier to budget. One problem I had was buying everything on the shelf I thought I would read. Result: Stacks of back issues waiting to be read. If you buy them one at a time, you never overspend. That said, if you’re done with the comics you would’ve read, the temptation is still there to buy another. It’s very easy to make an impulse purchase on digital.

    Also, no more long boxes, bags, and backs to store.

    On the down side, when Marvel goes fully day/date, I’ll need to make excuses to visit the comic store.

  8. boosebaster boosebaster says:

    Nice article Mike. I’m a steadfast convert to digital, and I think maybe you haven’t made enough of the storytelling advantage in the guided view? I think the advantages are MASSIVE – reading in guided view means you can’t subconsciously scan down the page before reading it, and literally having no idea what is in the next panel, is a huge improvement over paper. Every panel has the opportunity to provide the kind of shock you can usually only get on a left hand page.

    Also, I keep hearing people talking about having to turn it for double page spread…I read all my digital comics in guided view horizontally and never have to spin it around. I think people just assume you should read vertically because the aspect ratio resembles print comics more? Just do me a favour and try that for a bit, I think you may be pleasantly surprised.

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      Truth. Guided mode is almost like reading a motion comic. It’s not just inter-panel narration guidance that’s boosted, it’s also intra-panel guidance! Bouncing around in dialogue within one panel is amazingly effective! Graphic.ly really makes the best of what can be done with storytelling using a static picture.

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      Correction, Comixology, not Graphic.ly

    • boosebaster boosebaster says:

      I only really have experience of Comixology. I tried Graphicly once (for the first issue of Josh’s comic actually) and I thought I hadn’t had the full comic as it seemed to just stop. I contacted them and they said that where it stops is actually the end of the issue but that the software had no way of relaying that to me as the reader. Which strikes me as insane, Comixology makes it pretty clear that you’ve finished the issue.

    • boosebaster boosebaster says:

      Also, comparing it to Motion Comics isn’t reeeeaaally very accurate, and I know a lot of comics readers hate motion comics so it’s not really fair. I hated them until I tried Buffy Season 8 recently. The first four issues are awful but from 5 onwards, the acting suddenly improves drastically, and I’ve really enjoyed episodes 5-19 in that format.

    • thompsonlive thompsonlive says:

      yeah I agree Comixology is a way better interface. I would love to support the fanboys by using graphic.ly but UI before bros in this case. Sorry boys.

    • Funnybooks Funnybooks says:

      @boosebaster I had the exact same experience with the end of Dixon’s Notch (nice work Josh, btw). I was sure there was something wrong and that it was stuck, but then I read another comic and the same thing happened — but in that book the artist had written a little “end” in the bottom corner of the last panel, so I was able to clue in.

    • Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

      I guess I should put in a little, “the end.”

      You know, if you guys tell us stuff like that, it can be implemented, and therefore make it better.

    • boosebaster boosebaster says:

      I contacted Graphicly about it, I don’t think it’s a problem with the creators, it’s with the app. “The End” might make you think it’s the actual end and there isn’t a next issue!

    • Funnybooks Funnybooks says:

      @Josh I don’t think it needs to always be in the art. Something from the app that lets you know the issue is done and then gives you a choice of re-reading, going to the next issue, buying the next issue or returning to your library would be nice.

    • xebix xebix says:

      Pretty sure that’s what Josh was referring to, guys. Give feedback on the app.

  9. That’s the other problem I have with digital comics. I really enjoyed the experience of going to a comic shop and hanging out and BS’ing about comic and pop culture. If you go full digital than a lot of those shops will probably cease to exist.

    • those awesome community comic shops where you just hang out, meet friends and have good times is like a fabled city of gold for me. haha i’ve never been in one of those shops. Its been years since i’ve been in a shop that had more than 3 people in it at any given time, or one that has had any type of welcoming feel. Lots of dungeons out there.

    • The shop I go to know isn’t nearly as friendly or as fun as the shop I used to work at. And now that you mention it their not nearly as knowledgeable about comics as I would, like them to be. When DC announced they would be rebooting I informed them about the event. Hmmmm….

    • thompsonlive thompsonlive says:

      yeah there is only 1 LCS left here in Knoxville, TN and it’s pretty lame to be honest. I used to drive 40 minutes one way to get my comics every wednesday and there would usually only be one or two guys in there (almost always talking dungens and dragons). I was so glad to switch to digital, saved a ton on gas money.

    • If you’re worried about that, I might check to see if they have a digital storefront with comixology or something, and if they don’t maybe suggest it to them. I’m going all-digital with the serial comics, but I love my current LCS, so I was happy to see that they had a digital store so I can buy comics and still give them a kick-back, and I still intend on getting my trades and stuff through them.

  10. kzap kzap says:

    It’s interesting, I’ve only just got into monthly comics (in the last year or so) and I’m really not into digital.
    It’s odd because I’m very pro-digital for most things (music, movies, news, etc…) and I’m a really techy guy but reading comics on a screen just doesn’t do it for me.
    It’s partly because I don’t own a tablet (and I don’t think I ever will) so I have to read them on my widescreen desktop monitor and it just doesn’t feel right, if I’m zoomed out far enough to see the whole page and can’t read the lettering and if I’m zoomed in I can’t admire the layout and composition of the entire page. I end up constantly switching, zooming in and out and, even though Graphily’s guided view is an improvement, it still takes me out of the experience.
    I also find sometimes digital comics can zoom in too far and you can see the lack to detail in art that looks fine on the page.
    Finally I like to read my comics on the go and there’s no way I’m reading them on a phone and am I really going to make a £300 tablet investment back in savings? Not unless they drastically drop the digital price.
    So that’s just my two cents, I can see the benefits they’re just not for me.

    • boosebaster boosebaster says:

      Anything I have to say that’s positive about digital relates to tablets only, I agree with you that reading on desktops is utter shite.

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      I forgot to mention… Guided mode on a phone is actually really good. Surprisingly good! It’s about the same size as a print comic panel by panel. You really only miss out on splash pages.

      That said, I agree that reading on a regular computer has never worked for me. I’ve bought the PDF collections Marvel put out, and they’re just not the same experience as either print, or on a tablet/phone. I wouldn’t have switched to digital if I didn’t get a tablet. I also probably wouldn’t have gotten a tablet if it weren’t for digital comics.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      Interestingly, I quite enjoy reading on the desktop. I use the double page layout view and it works fine.

    • stuclach stuclach says:

      I prefer reading on a desktop, but often read on my iPad out of necessity.

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      My first attempt to read digital comics was with the Marvel on-line stuff. It just didn’t grab me at all. Perhaps with a really comfortable desktop set up, or maybe a computer powering an HD TV/Monitor in my living room, it might work. Then I started looking at digital again when the iPad came out. I found the even a smaller device was useful if you went one panel at a time, but the iPad really made digital seem like a viable solution. But I’m not at all tempted to bring up a comic at my desktop. I just wait until I’m sitting comfortably with my iPad or maybe stuck on a bus with only my iPod Touch for entertainment.

  11. Rob3E Rob3E says:

    “Digital comics may not last as long as print comics on their own, that is, if you don’t back them up, blah blah blah, but if you are responsible about keeping your devices backed up and all that, you’ll have them for a very long time. Yes, there caveats to this, …”

    There’s a pretty big caveat to this, like how it’s actually not possible. I love digital, but the one point that bugs me is that it’s not possible to back up files or access them again without the aid of the digital distributor. If Comixology or Graphically goes out of business, I don’t know that any amount of backups will save my collection. Only the issues that are actually copied to a device are backed up at all, but not likely in a way that will transfer to future devices/platforms. Some small publishers release DRM-free pdfs or cbzs, but they are a very tiny minority. For the most part, your access to your comics is controlled by the distributor. No amount of backing up will help if they go out of business or simply decide to turn off your access.

    To me that is the one, remaining place where print wins. Several books in my collection are small books from small publishers who no longer exist. I can and do still revisit these titles every now and then, but in a digital world, my access would end when the publisher’s app failed to get updated for the latest device/OS.

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      Good point. Also, how long until Disney or Warner buys one of them?

      Personally I think the risk of losing your digital collection because of some business decision is low, but definitely something to think about. I’d love to have a PDF solution. Disk is cheap.

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      I don’t agree that the risk is that low. Currently there are two main digital distributors and a few smaller ones. Maybe we’ll keep those two, or maybe one will come out on top, or a third option will arise, but in any case, it seems likely that in a new market like this, not all competitors will thrive. Any publisher/artist that releases their own materials through their own app are an even bigger risk. If you want to continue to access the materials you buy from them, they have to continue to remain in business and continue to support new devices. I think it’s inevitable that some publishers will go under. It’s the nature of the business. I only know of two publishers operating now that were also publishing when I first started reading comics. I imagine that there are more then two, but I also imagine that there are far more that have come into creation and/or gone out of business since then. It seems highly likely that this will continue to happen.

      I didn’t buy my music digitally until I could get it in a format that I could convert/move/store at will. Now I have bought music from a number of vendors, but it all goes in to the same pot, so to speak, and is not tied to the success of the company I purchased it from. This also has the very large benefit that I don’t have to remember where I bought a specific track in order to listen to it. I tell whatever device I have to play some Barry Manilow, and it will play whatever I have, whether it came from iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, or ripped from my CD collection. I wish digital would follow suit and eliminate my one, remaining issue that keeps me from being a full adopter/supporter.

    • lots of stuff can happen to print comics as well. Spill a coke on your longbox and see what happens. Water heaters, frozen pipes that explode, fire, paper mites, pet accidents….decomposition of paper because grade 1 and 2 paper (magazines and comics) are full of more industrial bi-products than quality wood pulp…

      i dunno, you can engage in your hobbies in fear of the worst case scenario or you can enjoy the ride is how i look at things.

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      Sure. But 1) it’s somewhat in my control. If I spill a coke on my comic, I only have myself to blame. 2) I can take steps. If something catastrophic happens to my house, I have a list of comics for the insurance company. They can be replaced. 3) It’s not that likely. If your “worst case scenario” is a zombie apocalypse, then it may not make sense spend a lot of time worrying about it. But if the concern is a publisher might go out of business and take your books with them, then publishers go out of business often enough that I think it’s worth considering.

    • flyfoxpro says:

      I agree with Rob3E, there is a huge difference between the possible destruction of print that i physically own, and the probability that digital distributors will go out of business. If we just look at the history of Comic books, we can see the probable trend for digital distributors. In the past there were multiple distributors currently there is only diamond. It is a huge possibility that ultimately the big comics companies will sign exclusivity deals with one digital company. if that is the case what happens to the people who bought comics through the other companies, Unless they are bought out by the other company, which is unlikely, they will lose all their “purchases”. Digital isn’t something your really own, its something you temporarily purchase the rights to view.

    • i think its interesting that some people value the physical objects…the idea of collecting and ownership as part of the experience, while some people are just interested in reading the stories (collectors read too..i know, i know) and don’t want to be burdened with the “leftovers”. It seems really we have a *schism* between the collectors and the “just readers”

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      I feel like I walk that line between collector and “just reader.” I acknowledge that digital files have no collection or resale value, but I seldom buy any comic with the idea that I’ll read it once and dispose of it. When I buy something, it’s with the idea that I will hopefully enjoy reading it multiple times. This is especially true of monthlies where I used to frequently read them as they came out, then read them again when a storyline was complete, then, if I really liked the storyline, read it again periodically in the future. What’s more, sometimes I buy things when the mood strikes me, or when they’re on sale, and enjoy them at some later date. It works fine with music, and it works with ebooks if they’re in an open format, but I’m very hesitant to do that with comics. With the longevity of the files completely out of my control, I am very reluctant to spend money on a “rainy day bookshelf” like I have with some print titles. Not only am I uncertain of the longevity of these files, I also have added frustration of needing to remember where I bought them when that rainy day comes. “Do I have anything unread in Comixology? No, How about Graphically? Dark Horse? Archie? Templesmith? Viz?” Instead of just pulling from my rainy day shelf and reading, I can spend my time looking through 20, independent, digital collections in search of the stuff I already bought and hope that the stuff I bought and the company I bought it from is still there.

    • flyfoxpro says:

      The point i am trying to make isn’t that comic books have monetary value, they really don’t have that much. But instead i think that the risks of a digital format as opposed to print are too great for me. Plus I am one of the few people who actually doesn’t like reading on a screen. It hurts my eyes to look at a backlit screen all day. Why would i want to leave work and then go home and look at another computer? plus i like bookmarks, i like going through my bookshelf and picking out a book, i like misplacing a book and finding it months or even years later. with digital i just don’t get the satisfaction or feeling of personal ownership that i do with print. I am a reader, i read comics, and i read books, i like to read them over and over again. Sometime i pick up books i loved in my childhood and read them again, or i go back and read a comic i got when i was 9 or 10, with digital the assurance that i will be able to reread the things i “buy” just isn’t there and that is what bothers me. this whole thing between collectors and just readers reminds me of Mark Hamill’s “Comic Book the Movie” where kevin smith proposes that we should rip the comic in half after reading it instead of bagging and boarding. Its a ridiculous notion but that is what it feels like i am doing when i put faith in an unproven digital format.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      Two things:

      1. I’ve been advocating a “readership model” for digital comics for a while. The fact that I have to own physical copies of everything I want to read makes me a bit more selective in what I buy. Price is a factor too: if I’m not going to keep it, the price should be lower, just like a movie ticket is typically cheaper than a Blu-Ray.

      2. I really don’t believe you need to fear if one of the digital distributors goes under. If one distributor tanks, it’ll likely be due to the dominance of another distributor. The tanking distributor could sell off their library and membership base to the healthy distributor. Certainly not fool proof, but I think any healthy distributor would want to attempt to buy a failing distributors assets if for no other reason than to instantly gain market share.

      Also: I believe that with Comixology, the files ARE downloaded to your device — why I can read my digital comics when my device is not using WiFi. The files are just locked off in a way that you can’t do anything with them independent of the app. Therefore, until you’re forced to delete or update the app, all your files should remain where they are.

    • flyfoxpro says:

      I see your point of view, but the lets say that you are correct that the “winner” of the digital race buys the other, than people might be able to transfer their “purchases” but eventually it would make more sense for the publisher themselves to invest in their own distribution service, therefore any “middle man” distributor might be pushed out and eventually go out of business completely. I think the main thing for everyone is to decide the best strategy for themselves, i think it is too early for those who value the idea of rereading their comics to put too much faith in this current model of digital distribution, or else they might find themselves having to buy the same thing multiple times. Bottom line is that this is the early days of digital distribution, just like betamax and vhs, or blu ray and hddvd eventually something will win out, early takers will invest in one only to find them rendered obsolete by the next big thing.

      Also in reference to your statement about your files being downloaded. The files must be read in the comixology app, if comixology goes out of business the likelihood of updates to the comixology app go away, therefore an update to your Os or hardware could render your app useless, rendering your “purchases” unreadable.

      I know that i might be one of the few dissenting voices but i’m not picking on digital comics alone, i think that all digital content is sketchy to buy. When you buy something you own that property, when you “buy” digitally you don’t really own anything but an opportunity to operate or view something indefinitely. If people are okay with this model of digital transactions then power to them, i won’t begrudge anyone to spend their money where they want.

  12. Parri Parri (@pazzatron) says:

    Nice, informative, honest article!

    My 2 pence:
    People need to worry less about what others do and just focus on how they like THEIR comics. As long as you’re buying your books and enjoying your stories it shouldn’t matter if you consume physically or digitally. Whatever keep YOU happy.

    For me? UK cover prices are crippling (a same-day $2.99 comic is pretty much £2.99 here due to air shipping). This makes same-day digital a big bonus in ol’ Blighty.

  13. Does anyone know how long it takes Marvel to release new comics digitally?

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      Marvel only has certain titles SDD. The Ultimate line, Spider Man, and X-Men titles are the big ones. Those release in the morning EST on Wednesdays so far. Fear Itself: The Fearless just came out SDD, but Fear Itself itself #7 hasn’t come out yet. #6 came out this month, so they may be one month back. I’m anxiously awaiting the Avengers lines, as well as the new “Marvel Knights” (Punisher, Daredevil, Moon Knight).

      DC seems to be releasing theirs at about 2PM EST on Wednesdays. They are 100% SDD.

    • Thanks. I wish they would get with the game go all in with SDD.

  14. dgazzuolo dgazzuolo says:

    Sometimes people mention the pricing not being right for them to get into digital comics, but for me, the pricing ends up being a big reason I enjoy comics digital…and specifically on the iPad.

    I swear there are $.99 sales everyday. Every Monday Marvel has a $.99 sale on select titles, and they often have them on Fridays, as well. DC will do $.99 sales quite often as well. This past weekend every Superman/Batman (the series) issue was $.99…including the 40+ page annuals and special edition issues. If one is patient enough, they can get some great deals.

    In terms of preferring the iPad specifically, I enjoy it because of the iTunes gift cards. It makes it easy for friends and family to give the gift of comics without having to worry about going to your specific shop or getting you a certain book. When I make an in app purchase from the dc, marvel or comixology app the purchase is simply taken from my iTunes credits. It’s very easy and you don’t have to worry about looking at your CC or debit card statement to sift through all the minor purchases because you’ve used iTunes credits you got from gift cards.

    I love digital comics.

  15. wangman31888 wangman31888 says:

    for the comixology people, do you actually download the comics? And could you read them on another app/program?

    I ask because I worry sometimes that converting means that I will no longer truly own the comics, let’s say comixology somehow shuts down someday (unlikely, but i’m a paranoid) would you still be able to read your comics?

    • flyfoxpro says:

      It doesn’t really sound like paranoia to me. When you buy something digital, whether it be music, games or comics, you have to trust that the business that you bought it from will stay in business or not lose the rights to those things. To answer your question most of the companies selling comics only allow the comics they sell to be viewed in their programs. Unless you make screenshots and back up you purchase that way, you have to trust the company. Someday the publishers might take away the rights from companies like Graphically and Comixology and only digitally publish the comics themselves. At that point hopefully you have the comic downloaded, because you probably won’t be able to download it again.

      The truth as i see it is this, Actual physical copies of media, comics or otherwise, have resell value, digital doesn’t, actual physical copies do not really on others to maintain a business, digital does. I feel more comfortable with physical copies.

    • wangman31888 wangman31888 says:

      Interesting, is this the case if you purchase directly from the companies (DC, Image, etc.) ?

    • flyfoxpro says:

      I’m not sure about that, but I know that DC works closely with comixology and when you buy comics through the dc website you are buying through comixology. I would assume it is that way with the other companies as well. This situation makes me think that it is still a risk to buy digital comics in any form, because the longevity of the product is in question. It boils down to the argument of whether or not you are making an actual purchase of an item, (owning something you are capable of reselling.) and purchasing the right to view an item that someone else controls. ( such as a movie ticket or museum pass.) The problem that arises through the publishers deals with digital distributors is that in the future the distributor might not have those deals. In the past there were multiple print distributors of comics, now there is only diamond. With digital rights it is impossible to tell if you will be able to “own” the comic for an extended period of time. If you buy a comic from digital “company B” and it goes out of business, digital “company A” has no responsibility to honor your previous purchase.

      Hopefully this helps you make an informed decision on whether or not digital is for you.

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      Comixology licenses you to use content, it doesn’t sell you any rights to it. They can remove your rights to view it at any time. While I still think the benefit outweighs the risk (market forces and such), it doesn’t give you a warm and fuzzy, does it? Here’s the official Terms of Use from their site:

      6. Digital Content:
      The Service enables you to download, display and use comic books and other digitized electronic content as made available by comiXology from time to time (individually and collectively, “Digital Content”). Upon your payment of the applicable fees (if any) and subject to any further restrictions in the EULA, if applicable, comiXology grants you the non-exclusive right to view, use and display the Digital Content as part of your use of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by comiXology. ComiXology reserves the right to revoke your license to Digital Content at any time for any reason. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense or otherwise assign any rights to the Digital Content or any portion of it to any third party, and you may not remove any proprietary notices or labels on the Digital Content. In addition, you may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, bypass, modify, defeat or circumvent security features that protect the Digital Content. You acknowledge and agree that Digital Content may not be available to view, use or display under certain conditions, such as due to restrictions made by licensors of Digital Content or if the publisher of Digital Content no longer retains the rights or other licenses, consents or permissions to that Digital Content. ComiXology reserves the right to modify or discontinue the offering of any Digital Content at any time. If a unit of Digital Content becomes unavailable prior to download but after purchase, your sole and exclusive remedy is the refund of the purchase price paid for such Digital Content.

    • flyfoxpro says:

      My use of the word “right” is in the idea that you are essentially leasing or renting the ability to view something not actually making a purchase of that thing. I don’t want to rent a comic book i want to own the comic. I may not own the copyright on the artwork or content but i own that particular piece of property, that book is tangible. the issue for me is right now with multiple digital companies the odds of them all surviving is very low, so there is no reason for me to buy comics at the same price as physical copies when those companies could potentially not exist tomorrow. its the same reason i don’t buy digital games on my xbox or wii, someday those companies won’t exist or they won’t maintain their backlog of digital games and if i don’t have a physical copy of the game i won’t be able to go back and play it.

  16. kennyg kennyg says:

    I have read some comics digitally, but I find I prefer paper over digital 99% of the time. There are advantages to digital – storage, convenience, and portability being the main ones I see. However, on anything smaller than an iPad, even with guided view, the experience for me is terrible. Part of it is because I am older and have a hard time reading small print, so a small screen is worthless. I don’t like to have to zoom and resize constantly to be able to read it. Even on an iPad, it can be hard to read sometimes. Also, two-page spreads just don’t work for me digitally. It’s not so much turning the iPad sideways, I’m not THAT lazy, it’s that to show the two pages it significantly resizes it to fit. The magnificence of something like a JHWIII Batwoman issue is ruined by that, for me. I’m back to close to the size of a phone screen almost, and that doesn’t work for me.

    Now, I read the Scott Pilgrim books on the iPad, and those worked great because the original size was smaller than the iPad screen, so it was bigger. I liked that a lot.

    I wasn’t aware you could do screen shots from digital comics. What’s to keep someone from doing screen shots of the whole thing and pirating it?

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      “I wasn’t aware you could do screen shots from digital comics. What’s to keep someone from doing screen shots of the whole thing and pirating it?”

      I don’t think there’s anything to prevent that. The real issue is that most of this stuff is already being pirated from the print. If you could get a better quality file from digital screen captures, and the comic in question was available day and date, then I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing digital-based pirated copies (maybe they’re already out there?). I wonder, though, if there aren’t quality issues. Seems like screen capture is only as good as the screen you’re using, whereas scans are as close to the original material as possible. If I do screen captures on my iPad, and then an iPad 3 comes out with a much better screen, my captured images might not look as good, but scanned files should look as good or better, assuming they were scanned well.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      Sounds like an experiment is in order! Wonder what the PPI (pixels per inch, as opposed to dots) is on a screen grab of a comic source is? Does it take whatever the screen supports, or does it do less because of a software setting? According to the internet, both the iPad and iPad 2 have 132 PPI at 1024×768 resolution. So, no matter if you scanned a physical comic at 600 DPI or 150 DPI, it’s going to look the same on a 132 PPI display, right? I mean, it can’t look better than the display can support, no matter what DPI you use. If the iPad does screen grabs at 132 PPI, someone could conceivably do a complete copy at the same resolution it is displayed at, digitally, with no print artifacts/bleed through, no ads (right?), and no /joining/editing required. It would take minutes as opposed to hours.

    • JimAdkins JimAdkins says:

      “I wonder, though, if there aren’t quality issues. Seems like screen capture is only as good as the screen you’re using, whereas scans are as close to the original material as possible.”

      Screen captures would come down to the resolution of your screen. I wonder how big the resolution is on the original digital releases. I’m looking at comixology, and if you double-click on a double page, it zooms in, and it looks as though the width is around 1600px. Height is around 1250px. So if you had a screen resolution that could fully capture that, say 2560×1600, on a 30 inch monitor, then you could conceivably backup your digital comics by screen shots and still get the best quality.

    • JimAdkins JimAdkins says:

      “I mean, it can’t look better than the display can support, no matter what DPI you use.”

      I may be wrong here, but I don’t think it works like that. I think if you scan something at a high dpi, it will just make it larger on your display. I wonder what DPI is used by scanners and what resolution that final files are in for pirated issues.

      Also, I’m wondering if there is anything in the ToS agreement on comixology that makes it illegal to screen capture a comic displayed there. I will have to check it out. I would assume there is.

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      “According to the internet, both the iPad and iPad 2 have 132 PPI at 1024×768 resolution. So, no matter if you scanned a physical comic at 600 DPI or 150 DPI, it’s going to look the same on a 132 PPI display, right? I mean, it can’t look better than the display can support, no matter what DPI you use.”

      There are two issues with this. One is that, like some of the other posters have alluded to, you can zoom into a current Comixology file quite a bit. This is especially useful when trying to read text on a double page spread. If you create a cbz from a screen capture, the image file will be optimized for the full page view, and will likely be a much less detailed image file then the original.
      The second, related issue is that some day there will be an iPad 3, 4, etc. as well as other devices. If you display screen grabs from from a lower resolution device, they will likely be inferior to a good scan of the original print.

      Perhaps several screen grabs per page, at maximum zoom, and knitted together would give you a best possible file, but it might end up being more work then just scanning the print.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      Zoom can be a nice feature, especially for my old eyes. And sure there will be new devices in the future with better resolution. But are those really concerns as far as pirated content goes? Wouldn’t “good enough to read” be good enough for most readers of downloads? If you go in with somewhat lowered expectations, free and readable will win out every time with some folks.

      Please note, I’m not advocating doing this, I am just curious. What if, in the attempt to eliminate piracy, they facilitated it?

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      Just a note… On an iPad, in guided mode, outside of splash pages, the panels are much bigger than in print. I would think the experience would be a lot easier on your eyes.

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      “Zoom can be a nice feature, especially for my old eyes. And sure there will be new devices in the future with better resolution. But are those really concerns as far as pirated content goes? Wouldn’t “good enough to read” be good enough for most readers of downloads? If you go in with somewhat lowered expectations, free and readable will win out every time with some folks.

      Please note, I’m not advocating doing this, I am just curious. What if, in the attempt to eliminate piracy, they facilitated it?”

      For some pirates, they look at digitizing comics as a preservation technique. For them, a screen capture of a scaled down, digital version will never be an acceptable alternative. For some people, a free, low-res copy might be sufficient, in which case you could argue that the current, screen capture loophole could facilitate piracy, but the reality is that if there are still high quality scans being made, who will be choose the low quality version when both are available?

      The thing that would really facilitate piracy is releasing DRM-free, high quality files. This would make the files more easily shared, so it would make the scanners’s jobs easier, but it could hardly increase piracy given that, as I understand it, almost every new comic is uploaded as a scan within a day of release. Reading the pirate interviews on this sight, it definitely seems like the average pirate uploader is very concerned with quality. Perhaps the average downloader is less concerned with quality, but as long as the uploaders are quality-driven, print is likely to continue to be a preferred source until a better quality digital source is found.

      But, again, even if the industry makes more “piratable” files available, they can’t really increase piracy if 100% of titles are already available as pirated files. All they can do to curb piracy is to make legitimate, digital copies available so that people who want to buy their digital comics are able to. Current trends towards day-and-date digital seems like a step in the right direction. Guided panel view is a nice feature that wouldn’t expect to be available in the scans, so if you like that feature, that might be an incentive to buy. Personally, I still feel that if someone is worried about long term access to the comics they have purchased, the pirated scans may still be more attractive then current digital offerings, but if your lack of ownership, and the uncertain longevity of your files is not an issue for you, the current digital offerings may be attractive. I do enjoy guided panel view.

      Right now the biggest annoyances with digital to me are the lack of ownership and portability of the files, the inability to access all those comics from one location, and the (mostly) lack of a price point that seems reasonable to a “trade waiter” like me. These are problems that temper my enjoyment and full scale adoption of digital, and yet these are not problems if you are willing to pirate comics. So the problem in my mind is that every decision that seems to be made to create a road block for pirates also creates a road block for legitimate, paying customers. And because piracy seems to go on regardless, it not only fails to prevent piracy, but it creates a situation where pirates arguably have a superior product.

  17. Definitely agree, especially on the art looking good.

    I recently really got to saw this first-hand–I’ve fairly recently just started to get into the Top Cow stuff after getting one of those five dollar Witchblade trades, and while I liked that artist’s art enough before, when I decided to read some stuff like Angelus and Broken Trinity online…WOW, the guy’s digital art and color just explodes on the screen where it’s kinda dull on the page.

  18. flyfoxpro says:

    I will never switch over to digital comics, nor will i switch over to digital anything. Because when you buy something digital, you don’t really own it. Sure you own the rights to look at it, but you can’t sell those rights, they have no value. Some might argue that comics aren’t worth much monetarily anyways, but at least i know that i can take them to my local used bookstore and get something for them. I might occasionally buy a digital copy of something, but for the most part i am sticking to obtaining physical copies of things, i don’t care about better colors or guided view, i care about actually owning something, something physical i can hand to my son when he is old enough to read, something i can pass down to him.

  19. lifesend lifesend says:

    ART: I’m not sure if the art actually looks better digitally, since I’ve never compared, but I now spend a lot more time looking at and appreciating the art, especially silent panels, which I usually glided over.

    GUIDED VIEW: Romo, glad you mentioned the tension this mode provides. Sometimes, looking at a comic book page, especially two side by side, you can tell what’s going to happen in the last panel before even reading the first, effectively spoiling the story, but if you go panel by panel, there really is some genuine suspense preserved. Plus, Guided View gives you the option to see the page before or after reading it, so you can still see the artists intent in terms of panel layout. That’s what I call a win-win situation.

  20. Funnybooks Funnybooks says:

    I’m in whole-hearted agreement. Since I got my iPad, I’ve been loving the digital comic experience. I love not having to make the extra trip to the LCS, even though I’m blessed with some good ones. I love not having to worry about the good books selling out before I get there (sometimes by Wednesday afternoon).

    I’m finding that it is already grating on me that with some of my Marvel books, I’m having to wait for when they might come out digitally, if at all. Come on Marvel… day and date!

    Until then, I’m loving the experience and am using the $0.99 days to explore older books I may have missed.

    I do hope they get a little more reasonable with the pricing though. I looked and picking up the first 10 Gotham Central books, but the online price for them together is more than I could get the trade for on Amazon.

  21. flyfoxpro says:

    I have trouble reading digital comics, it makes my eyes and head hurt, i don’t know if its because i keep the screen too bright but even when i read the comic on a normal sized screen i can’t quite keep myself focused on the comic. I sometimes can’t even finish reading it, maybe i’m just an old fogy.

  22. From the “Some Things Aren’t Necessarily Better In Print Department” — I actually read all the Parker books on my iPad, some of the first things I bought. They were a magnificent experience.

  23. CanuckGoose CanuckGoose (@CanuckGoose) says:

    I donate my old comics to local schools and community reading programs.
    I send books home with friends and discuss them the next week over a pint.
    When it comes to resale, I’ve had an overwhelming success on sites like Kijiji.

    I can’t do any of these digitally.

    This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to go digital. The free-space argument is valid, as is the crispness on a tablet, but as a reader and writer I buy my books in print out of a love of reading – and a desire to share that.

  24. Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

    I’m going digital as soon as I am able to see how comics look on the Kindle Fire. I got a kindle for reading and instantly knew I would never buy another print novel. Has anyone read a comic on a smaller tablet like the fire?

    I also need to build up the courage to close my box at my local shop…..

  25. unclerocco unclerocco says:

    I’m sure everything you’ve said is true, but I’m probably too old a dog (35) to change to digital (I’m sure there are 100 people here older than me who’ve made the switch, so take that with a grain of salt, of course.).

    While the on-line community is probably a lot better place to share opinions than a shop (more people, more diversity) – I like going to my shop every week, and I fear for the future of the LCS.

    I’m very fortunate, I know, because I live in Chicago and have three excellent, friendly, knowledgeable, community minded shops with regular events in walking distance of our home and at least two more within 15 minutes drive, while some of you live in smaller places with less shops, or with lousy shops, but…

    I REALLY value the weekly walk to my favorite shop, the talk with the friendly, cool owner, the people coming in and joining the conversation (some totally weird and scary people, some awesome), the kids coming in to pick up a Batman Adventure or whatever, the punky chicks with the indie books and the tats, etc.
    I like the walk around the inventory, make impulse buys, look at the posters and meet the guest artists and peruse the related crap for sale, etc. etc. etc.

    I like bagging and boarding my comics, I like reading them SLOWLY (and even trades read too fast for me, I can’t imagine digital), and giving lots of them to my friends sons. (My daughter is a newborn, but soon there’ll be a lot of Archie and Uncle Scrooge in the house!)

    I know, I know, I sound like an old fogey complaining about vinyl – and my dad is in the dying printing industry, so I’m prejudiced – but there’s something about actual human interaction that is lost everytime Tower or Borders closes. (Remember hanging out in music stores? In book stores? Just me? Forums are great, but actual warm bodies are great, too.)

    So, again, I’m sure everyting you’ve said is true – but I fear that the digital revolution means the end of the LCS, and more people sitting at home paying attention to a small sliver of things they like instead of meeting strangers in a physical place and having their mind expanded.

  26. geekmonkey geekmonkey says:

    I’ve been on the digital wagon for a while now, and have been slowly phasing out paper issues as they become more readily available. My LCS recently made a deal with Comixology, so I can now buy things through his virtual storefront, get my comics on my iPad, and still send some money his way (I still go there every week and make sure to pick up the majority of my trades/collections from him that I want a physical copy of). The biggest points for me in going digital? No more stacks and stacks of comics and longboxes everywhere. I see the appeal, and don’t begrudge anyone the joy of perusing boxes and re-reading old books, but personally I almost never take out my old comics except to move them some place out of the way, so this works out much better – I find I’m actually re-reading my books more now that they’re readily available on my desktop/iPad.

    Just a though for the iFanboy guys, but has Graphic.ly thought about doing a similar deal with brick and mortar stores? With all the publishers you have, I’d definitely be willing to make a switch if it meant my LCS could get a piece of the action.

    • flyfoxpro says:

      I understand the idea of not wanting a ton of comics around, but the whole idea of traveling to a comic store to purchase digital comics is ridiculous. It seems like it defeats the purpose. If digital is the way of the future than the LCS will go out of business because operating a store based entirely on the minimal amount of money gotten from the digital distributor is not a sustainable business model. I would imagine that the LCS makes less money on digital purchases than print ones, but i don’t really know the facts. Regardless of the amount of money being made on digital purchases at the LCS, the idea that people would travel to a specific location to buy something they could buy anywhere is unrealistic. I would say the best way to support an LCS is to buy print. If you prefer digital by all means continue to buy through the LCS.

  27. jasonhart jasonhart says:

    Anybody know which book that first image at the top of the article is from?

  28. superkal1978 superkal1978 says:

    I want to buy a Tablet and jump in on the Digital bandwagon,
    are all the tablets pretty equal in usablity and graphic quality when it comes to reading comics?

    • Burritoclock Burritoclock says:

      Yeah I am curious how comics look on say a 7″ tablet, as the Kindle Fire could cause I huge spike in Tablet owners. At least I know it gets me in, as spending $199 for tablet novelty is far more doable than $599.

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      I’m guessing it’s fine. I read comics on my HTC Thunderbolt 4.3″ phone in guided mode with no problem. The resolution should be even sharper than on a 10″ laptop. I think people are going to really start jumping on the digital bandwagon come November when they start getting their Kindle Fires and they see the ads Amazon will be pushing on them with their DC partnership (The one that they sacrificed their relationship with Barnes and Noble over).

    • elfrawg elfrawg says:

      And, for the record, best tablet bang for your buck IMHO is the ASUS Transformer (Which I have). It’s around $380, 10″ screen, 9 hours of battery life, great screen, and if you buy an optional $125 docking keyboard, turns into a netbook and gets an additional 9 hours of lifespan and two USB ports. There’s nothing else quite like it on the market (other than the ASUS Slider that has a keyboard that slides out from underneath, but it’s closer in weight to a netbook since you can’t detatch the keyboard). Flash enabled, and no interface constraint concerns like you might have with the Kindle Fire or iPad. Can’t beat it for the price.

  29. JaqueNargg JaqueNargg says:

    Question for those of you reading comics on ipad…

    Do you always need a 3g or internet connection to read your comics, or can you read offline too. This is a huge factor for me as I love reading comics while travelling in a car or on a plane. I currently read all my digital stuff (a few DC books) on my laptop, which through comixology seems to require an internet connection at all times.

    • Conor Kilpatrick Conor Kilpatrick (@cskilpatrick) says:

      You can read offline once you’ve downloaded the issues to the iPad. At least with Graphicly.

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      The same is true with Comixology. The trick is to make sure you’ve actually downloaded them. With both services, I believe, your collection is stored “in the cloud” to be downloaded and read whenever you want, so you need to make certain you’ve downloaded the issues you want before you go offline. Not a big deal usually, because they download when you buy them as long as you remain connected with the app running. Where it gets tricky is if you purchase them from another device, your home computer, or from the website. I do not think it is possible to move those files to your iPad without connecting to the service through the app when the iPad is online.

      So you don’t need an active connection to read the comics as long as they are already there, but you will need a connection at some point to get the books on to your device. Unlike music, photos, and some other documents, I do not believe Comixology or Graphicly files can be moved to the iPad from your computer. But I could be wrong on that.

    • Mike Romo Mike Romo (@rikemomo) says:

      You can read them offline in the Marvel and DC apps. the only thing you can’t do is apply a star rating to them–which is stupid, it should just cache it and upload the ratings the next time you go online.

      great conversation, I am still catching up–thanks for reading!

    • I am having the hardest time just trying to figure out what is available in SDD. I know the entire 52 line and some marvel but they are ot making it easy to find.

    • IroncladMerc says:

      It’s not hard to see what is SDD, Comixology has a SDD category each week where it shows you all the SDD stuff in one place.

      Also you always download to your device when you start reading stuff in Comixology. If you buy it on their website it still shows up in your purchased comics list on the iPad complete with download buttons for every issue you’ve ever bought from them, whether it was bought via iPad or their website.

  30. JimAdkins JimAdkins says:

    I also have gone almost completely digital. Once Red Wing is over this week, I will be completely digital from then on.

    I have to say that I LOVE the guided view. I hate having to “figure out the pages” and I don’t find it fun, just annoying. For instance, Swamp Thing #2 with the 2 page spread would have been a nightmare to read on the page. I heard people complain about it. I had no issue with it at all because of the guided view.

    I also see the whole printed page before I am able to read to the end. I HATE when the endings get ruined. Detective #1 ending is a perfect example. I turn the page and BAM! My eyes see the end and I have to read up to it to figure out what’s happening. When I read in guided mode, the flow is perfect, and I don’t see the end until I’m there reading it. This is, hands down, my favorite part of reading digitally.

    • Goaduk Goaduk says:

      i agree with the ending thing, and also you dont get that thing where there is a big reveal on the next page and you turn it and BAM, wolverine pants/ hulk cologne etc

  31. nick0606 nick0606 says:

    I’m moving into digital for the single issues, but I’m still buying things like ultimate collections and omnibuses.

  32. LostArtist LostArtist says:

    the only thing I hate about reading digital comics is double page spreads. they don’t work on a tablet. I wouldn’t read a digital comic on a computer screen like a laptop or desktop monitor, I’ve tried, something is too disconnected, but a tablet feels okay, since I can at least move it around easier, but I don’t like using it to read comics while I’m eating, where as with paper comics, eh, so what, if you spill something and wipe it off fast enough it’s all okay, or maybe you’re out the $4 on the issue, but on a tablet, not sure that’d be the case, and reading on the . . well, nevermind . . . let’s just say that tablet’s can limit where you feel comfortable reading . . . .

  33. Limitless Limitless says:

    All great points, and if I had a tablet I’d give serious consideration to buying my monthly books in digital form, but I enjoy lending out my comics as much if not more than I do reading them. Sharing these tiny works of art with my friends is a joy I can’t really describe, which is impossible with digital issue’s without lending them my tablet. And that just wouldn’t work.

  34. WEPNX7 WEPNX7 says:

    Graphicly should make an app available on xbox live the way netflix, zune and last fm currently do. Would be pretty sweet :)

  35. it feels like we just had this discussion posts here…with most of the same points.
    oh hey that’s because we did…less than a month ago in Jim’s article:
    The Digital Age: Better Late Than Never 09/26/11

    i’ld repost my ideas all over again but it appears i’m too lazy and not that clever.
    and the concussion from last month’s wall banging has still not worn off.
    well until next month’s digital article

  36. stasisbal stasisbal says:

    This article made me think a little harder about switching to digital. The “It is a lot easier to remember the story with digital comics” point clicked with me. For a while I’ve felt like a downside to reading comics is that you end up collecting them. I still see some appeal of flipping through my previous issues but I hardly ever do it and very rarely re-read stuff once its in a box. I definitely see myself more likely to go through a previous issue or reread an arc/run if it’s just a few clicks away.

    Thinking digital comics natural led me to research tablets because I’m not going digital in any significant way until I invest in one. I think I’ll the plunge once the next wave of tablets start coming out (the ASUS Transformer Prime is looking pretty sweet).

  37. Goaduk Goaduk says:

    After leaving comics for a year after the end of secret invasion, I have rejoined in full force on the back of DC’s same day releases, as well as a smattering of Marvel (really really want them to do avengers same day.) I agree that thus far it has been fantastic, The only thing that worries me is can i keep hard copies of the comics on back up (i use Marvel DC and Xcomics, or are they just saved to my comixology account. Due to problems with my home internet, all my comics have been downloaded via the apps thus far, when i finally get my PC up and running and sync my ipad to itunes, will the comics appear as files????

    • Rob3E Rob3E says:

      No. Files exist, I don’t think you have access to them as files, at least not from the app. Both Graphicly and Comixology have ways to read comics on your desktop, but Comixology uses a web browser system, I think, so no file is ever saved to your hard drive for off-line viewing. At least that’s my understanding. I have never used the web client. Graphically has a desktop client, but it will redownload your comics from the Graphically server. I could be wrong, but I don’t believe there is any mechanism for sharing files between the desktop and mobile device other than by downloading to each from Graphically.

  38. Nerd_Raaage Nerd_Raaage says:

    Day and Date digital is what brought me back to comics. Like the author, I have just run out of space for physical issues. Sure I could throw them away, but I just can’t bring myself to do that to any book, even comics.

    Another consideration is that I do not have a local comic shop. The nearest one is about a two hour drive. I’m not going to make that effort. Nor am I going to deal with subscription services from big time stores that do shipping. I want to be able to browse and buy the same day as print purchasers.

    If comic companies will not accommodate my desires, they will not get my money. If they do cater to me, then they’ll probably end up getting more of my money than if I were buying at a shop, because 24/7 instant access increases my likelihood to make impulse buys.

  39. edward says:

    remember when we talked about the content and meaning of comics instead of digital comics, how they read of a device and their delivery constantly?

  40. JasonB35 JasonB35 says:

    I am completely digital and I think Mike has covered all the advantages very well. There is a part of me that worries about “losing” what I have downloaded if a company goes under but on the other hand I have boxes and boxes of books that I haven’t looked at in years taking up space in my garage. They may as well not exist because I don’t want to deal with their physicality. Whether it is single issue or a collection, it is going to take a very “special” book for me to want to get a physical copy anymore. Marvel has basically lost my day and date business because the stuff they release is really pricey and they take their sweet time dropping the price. I would love to read Schism, but I’m not going to do it at 3.99 an issue. If they at least start dropping them a buck or two after a month I may come back. Otherwise I am quite happy reading their really old stuff for 1.99 or less or reading it on their digital website which in my opinion offers one of the more quality guided views that I have used. I don’t have a tables, I mostly read on my desktop and have had a very good experience. I like reading on my phone as well but the screen is just a touch small. If the Kindle Fire gets quality reviews and links up with Comixology or Graphicaly at all then I might consider getting one just a comic reader when I can’t read at my desk. Great article Mike.

  41. JNewcomb JNewcomb says:

    As right as Mike is about digicomics in his article, he does write for iFanboy who has close ties with graphic.ly, a digital comics distributor.

  42. wayne2001bc wayne2001bc says:

    I’m about 80 to 90% digital. I have to agree about the artwork looking better. One thing that always bugs me about reading paper copies is the glare coming off of the page. I’d have to angle it a certain way to avoid that glare. Obviously not the case on a computer. One thing I recommend with those of you who read comics digitally is try hooking up your laptop to your widescreen tv. I have a plasma screen (not LCD) and the colors are so much deeper and richer. I look at my laptop, then look at the plasma screen and see what I’ve been missing. It’s a huge improvement The other thing I like about reading digital is being able to read on my smartphone. If I’m waiting in line someplace, I can just bust out my phone and start reading. I’ll probably invest in a Kindle Fire to see how that works out. But I’m fine with my laptop, smartphone and huge tv. Lastly, one thing I like better about Graphicly compared to Comixology is with Comixology, you can only pay with a Visa or Mastercard. Graphicly pays through Google, which has more credit card options. I can use other credit cards, which I have rewards on.

  43. flakbait flakbait says:

    I’d love to convert, but I feel like the readers are still too expensive. In a couple years when they’re $50 I’ll grab one.

  44. Vumbo Vumbo says:

    Readers too expensive, purist, collector, etc. etc. I honestly just don’t see the pull. The superior light quality, does not, in my opinon make up for how completely awful Splash Pages look on Tablets and/or readers. I recognize that they look better on a Desktop, but honestly, I don’t read comics at my house, for the most part, I read them either A) at my lcs on wednesday, or B) At work, a coffee shop, etc. Above all else though, that Digital takes away, is the atmosphere of a Comic Shop. It’s a place to go hang out, talk shop, bullshit about everything Nerd Culture. I understand that many people have pretty bad shops near them. Hopefully the Portals that DC and Marvel are making for LCS’ will catch on, and I seriously urge everyone who buys digital to urge a local shop to set up a Portal so you can support the shop. Or if you dont have one near you, find one’s portal online. Support the Comic Shops that made Digital comics possible.

  45. Agent Graves Agent Graves says:

    I actually hate digital comics. I tried them both out (both meaning comixology and graphic.ly) just last week. Graphic.ly was the worst because (as far as I could tell) there are 2 views: the full page on your screen, which makes it unreadable for me on a laptop screen cos it’s too small; and the panel-by-panel view and I can’t stand reading like that. It works kind of for some comics that are very panel-y in their layout but anything else and it pure does my nut in reading like that. Comixology was better because at least you could view the entire page by scrolling, reading like you would a pdf for example, but what’s with the grey stripe down the middle? I get that they are trying to create a..err.. “realistic” experience by creating that shadow but I don’t like it at all.

    Apart from not liking the reading experience, I just refuse to hand over the same amount of money as a print copy, simply to access content on their website. If I buy a digital copy of anything I want that file on my hard-drive. I have to go on the comixology website to read my comic collection? No thank you. If I lose my internet connection, my comic collection goes with it? Again, no thank you. They’re doing it wrong.

  46. PDubble says:

    I think the big untalked about story here is the proliferation of free scanned comics. All the people that say comics are not going digital are the same ones who didn’t think Mp3′s would take over because of their lessened sound quality or newspapers because you can’t take a laptop into the bathroom and throw it away when you’re done. Comics are going to be the records of the print world. My tablet and the pirating of comics now is just like my Rio and the pirating of music in 2000. What can I say? I see the way the wind is blowing a lot faster than my peers.

    I hate guided viewing. The best thing digital comics could do is go basic. Facebook beat Myspace because the system is so basic it paired back what was going on to what everyone really cares about. Just going over the numbers in my head (and seeing what other publications have done in similar formats, my wife has a digital subscription to US Magazine among others) using digital format is much cheaper, the delivery system almost negates the entire cost of mass production, and increased sales lead to increased revenue on an unprecedented level when compared to the cost of producing a new comic for a second run, shipping it, and then paying a vendor to sell it. I’ve been trying to get the iFanbase to consider the issues surrounding this, most specifically Ron, Josh, and Connor to start lobbying for a more workable system than what already exists. I’d suggest something modeled on a hybrid of iTunes and the current subscription model. The key is to keep costs low by going for a more stripped down experience.