Digital Comics Next Step: Longbox

This past weekend there were 2 comic book conventions, Wizard World Philadelphia and Heroes Con in Charlotte.  There’s been a bit of a drought in terms of announcement and news in comics lately, so it comes as no surprise that this weekend featured a ton of news about creative teams and comics and the like, but on Sunday at Heroes Con there was one panel with a very important announcement, and that was the public announcement of Longbox, a digital comics solution.

Longbox is most easily described as an attempt at being the “iTunes for comics” and that’s a pretty accurate description of there ever was one.  The coverage of the Longbox panel over at CBR explains in great detail what the product is, how it works, how much it will cost etc. so I’m not going to re-summarize it for you, just go there and check it out.  What I would like to do instead is to weigh in on the idea of digital comics and whether or not Longbox stands a chance. 

We’ve been talking about digital comics for a few years now.  With the emergence of files in such formats as .PDF, .CBR and .CBZ, combined with the distribution power of bit torrent, a vibrant pirate community around comics has been established. Visit for more information about online PDF editor. In addition to illegal means of digital distribution, we’ve seen various fits and starts by some publishers of putting their comics online, with the biggest attempt by Marvel with their Digital Comics offering, which puts both recent and old comics online for reading (yet not offline).  And to clarify, when I’m talking about digital comics, I’m not addressing web comics, which are an established part of the tapestry of the web (and includes Zuda Comics from DC Comics, whereas DC Comics does not have a digital comics offering for their mainstream/superhero titles as of yet). 

Whenever the concept of digital comics comes up, it’s hotly debated.  Do we even want to read comics on a computer (or a hand held device like an iPhone or Amazon Kindle)?  Regardless of the answer to that question, it’s inevitable.  The costs of printing and paper are constantly increasing, and the cost savings associated with digital distribution is too tempting to be passed up.  Additionally, the fact that people are reading their comics in a digital format, whether you want to or not, proves that there there is a market for it on some level.

The time we’re in right now reminds me a lot of music and the emergence of digital distribution of music in the late 1990s/early 2000s.  I’m not sure how many of you were around and active online at that time, but if you were you’d remember that it was the wild west.  You had a rapid development of file formats such as MP3s being adopted by many users, the increase in Internet access combined with file sharing technologies such as Napster lead to rampant pirating of music.  The record companies were slow to acknowledge that this was the future with some labels sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring it (somewhat like DC Comics) and others saw the writing on the wall and attempted their own proprietary solutions (somewhat like Marvel Comics).  It wasn’t until the emergence of commonly accepted file format, in this case MP3, and the emergence of a third party application with no ties to the record labels other than distribution deals, in this case Apple iTunes, was the digital music revolution able to be controlled and commercialized.  Sure pirating of music still exists, but by no means is it as rampant as it once once, with the majority of the population falling in line and buying their music again through iTunes or other services like eMusic or Amazon’s MP3 store. The comic book industry is in a very similar position and in discussions of this topic I’ve said it’s going to take a third party to come in and set the standard for the application as well as the file format before the pirating of comic books digitally would be curbed and for digital comics distribution can be accepted by the people.  

Is Longbox that solution? 
Right now it’s too soon to tell, but if anything has the potential to be, it sure looks like Longbox could be the real thing.  It seems to have the details sorted out, mainly a desirable price point – $0.99 per issue, along with it being a local client application (meaning I don’t need to be online to read the comics I download) could build the recipe for success.   It could be a world where you may buy less physical issues, but at 99 cents per “issue”, the opportunity for sampling or trying new titles is sure to increase.  I can see a future where issues are purchased via Longbox, and then the money savings are translated to increased sales in trade paperbacks or original graphic novels, easily. 

Now the emergence of a digital comics distribution system is surely to be seen as a threat to Diamond (the main distributor of comics) and local comic book stores.  I don’t really have anything to say on that other than that they’re going to need to change or die.  I don’t want to be in a world where the local comic store doesn’t exist, and I don’t think that will happen, but the direct market has been a problem (mainly due to Diamond) for years now and the future is inevitable. They’re going to have to evolve their business if they want to survive, it’s just that simple and could be a whole other article so I’ll stop for now.

So what will it take for Longbox to succeed?
As I mentioned above and if you read the details, Longbox is getting a lot of things right.  The price point, the method of distribution etc.  But the thing that will guarantee the success of Longbox (or any other attempt at third party digital distribution) is the content available.  It’s great to hear that Top Cow and Boom! Studios are on board, but that’s not enough.  Unless Longbox can establish agreements with the big 4 publishers: Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics, it won’t succeed, and I’m sure they know this. 

Again following in the footsteps of digital distribution of music, or movies and TV shows for that matter, it’s all about the content.  The reason why Apple iTunes was successful (aside from the iPod integration) was that it was able to get the music that we wanted in their music store.  I remember 10 years ago as other digital music distribution start ups emerged with independent artists and smaller labels, and while it was really cool, if you weren’t into any of those bands or labels, you weren’t spending your money.  It’s as simple as that.

Another aspect Longbox has going for it is in the war against digital comics pirating and creator rights.  I know a lot of people who download their comics via bit torrent, and despite whatever rationalization they make for themselves, like it was with music year ago, it’s still stealing.  No way around it.  When a comic is downloaded illegally, it’s the same situation as stealing the issue from the local comic book store.  No one is actually getting paid for that work or is the “sale” or consumption of that issue by you, the reader, is being counted which directly affects the publishing future of many books.  I’m not going to speculate that maybe Captain Britain and the MI:13 was canceled because of people bit torrenting the issues, but rather think about the number of people who might have given it a try digitally, and have been counted by Marvel as part of the greater readership. 

Digital distribution allows for an infrastructure for comics to be sold and counted which will only help the creators in the long run.  With the recent changes by Diamond in the sales limits needed to be distributed, a ton of independent creators are being shut off from the local comic book stores, which is a damn shame.  But think of the potential of an indie comic creator to provide his or her comic digitally, generating sales and buzz which could either fund the production of the print run for the comic or lead to a distribution deal (or other work) with another publisher.  Currently the avenue for success for small creators is incredibly tiny, if not impossible.  Digital distribution could open up those opportunities again to the future comic creators.

I’m incredibly optimistic about the future as presented by Rantz Hoseley (CEO of Longbox, and editor of Comic Book Tattoo from Image Comics).  Longbox seems like a great solution for both reading as well as distributing digital comics.  I’m sure there are others working on similar products and I’m guessing the next year is going to be very active in this area.  Ultimately it will come down to the comics available and how much the publishers are willing to play ball.  I hope, for all of our sakes, that Longbox is the solution and the publishers come to same conclusion that I have:  Digital comics are inevitable.  Change or Die.


  1. If can read four comics for the price of one, I could care less how I’m reading it. Hopefully they can coax Image and Dark Horse to jump on first, and then maybe that will convince Marvel to go along too. DC is going to be the thoughest to hook I think. Really the only losers here would be the LCSs.

  2. I am so excited for this, even if the big 4 don’t sign on I’ll just start reading more and more from Boom, IDW and other smaller publishers they may start picking up instead.  With the price at $0.99 and with the ability to just sit on my ass and click on a "Read Now" or something when I’m bored at home I think I’ll end up trying out all sorts of stuff I never would have otherwise.

    I don’t think you mentioned another key feature.  The ability for publishers to offer discounts on trades for people who have bought the issues digitally, cutting down on that "double-dipping" is a HUGE bonus

  3. I can easily see myself switching to digital comics in issues. If there is a story arc I really enjoy, I would buy the trade. At 99 cents an issue, that is a huge savings.

  4. i appreciate this technology, i really do.  but the same goes for comics as for books, i just can’t read them on the computer.  it’s not comfortable, and it’s strains my eyes more.  now if they come out with a kindle like device them i’m all for it, as i do own a kindle and it’s great for books, because it’s most like paper.  the same needs to be true for comics in order for me to switch. 

  5. I’m glad to see that there are companies out there working toward this because its very eco and economically friendly, but I don’t have much interest in reading comics digitally.  If a company were able to bring e-paper to a consumable level, then I would love to read my comics that way.  As I’ve stated before, reading comics is more than just reading. It’s the physical experience with the feel of the pages, the smell of the paper, and the sentiment that comes from sitting down and reading something physical.  The medium is developed to be read that way.

  6. Admittedly I got my start in reading comics digitally/illegally but all the comics I read I bought. The only reason I started buying was because the last page of every .CBR released by Green Giant and such says to support and buy comics. I felt pretty guilty by not supporting the people who bring us these good books.

  7. Great writeup Ron!

    I’d definately read online more if available.

    I’m not going to say I haven’t downloaded the odd comic through torrent, because I have.. but only for the comics I haven’t been able to find in print, the single issues that DC never trades. As I live in Australia, with less comic-book shops and the lack of conventions, finding $1 bins is harder to find those single issues.

    If DC started an online service for their old issues, I would definately use them, especially for those single issues, and comics I don’t really want to fill my collection up with. Hopefully Longbox can sort out a deal with the big publishers, like Apple has with the major labels.

  8. It does look very promising, Ron. And I agree with the Change or Die comment. It is the reality of the situation.

    I’m also impressed with fact that it’s compatible with .cbr and .cbz files, without judging… ;D This may prove a deal breaker for some, and it’s great to see somebody who’s actually done their research into how people might want Digital Comics.

    Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited is a noble gesture, but it’s hardly what people were asking for. Selling single issues instead of DCU would also make Marvel more money long term too, rather than subscription.

    Going digital wouldn’t stop printed media entirely, either. Take a look at what Avatar do with Warren Ellis an Paul Duffield’s Freakangels. That a free webcomic, but at the end of each ‘volume’ Avatar collect it as a Trade and Hardcover for Comic Book Stores and Bookstores. They make a fair bit of money back on that.

    It would certainly be a good way for Indie publishers to avoid the trappings of Diamond’s required numbers, and an opportunity for the Big Two to lower running costs – maybe taking some second tier titles digital format rather than cancellation.

  9. this can’t become a reality soon enough, in my opinion.  i want it now!!

  10. I would definitelybe on board with this digital distribution method and I think .99 an issue is the perfect price because really I wouldn’t pay much more than that for an issue that is digital. Sort of like iTunes and music. .99 is good but any higher for music and I would still be pirating it. However it is completely up to IMO Marvel and DC if this or any service similar survives. And I hope it works out. Really looking forward to the future of this technology. Great article Ron.

  11. I *believe* Image creators, as they own their own work, can work with Longbox on an individual basis (I see Jonathon Hickman has his boks signed up with them).

  12. At .99 an issue I would gladly purchase 60 titles a month.

  13. Couldn’t agree more with the change or die.

    great write up.  The 3 things I’m interested in with this (aside from the price point) are

    1) the library aspect of it for some of my cbr’s (I have a lot of Gold and Silver age cbr’s that haven’t been collected that I’m enjoying.

    2) The voucher for trades. Not sure how this would work but I would be all for it.  Some series i really want to get every week because I don’t want to wait for the trade, but then I want the trade because I like reading an arc in one sitting, and for the bookshelf, and I don’t want to buy both. I think this would solve that problem

    3) Handheld devices.  I’ve read some manga on my Sony reader and it looks great.  The color e-ink screens are still about 2 years away. they have some prototypes working now, but the screen refresh is around 30 seconds, too long.  but when they come out, and if longbox is already ready to handle them, that would be slick


  14. The screen shots look super sharp and awesome (or is that just b/c they used Phonogram as the example?). The potential for discounted trades related to singles you bought is really exciting to me most of all as the double dipping is a huge barrier for entry to me.

  15. Would the $1 price point be permanent?  Going from a $3 or $4 book down to a $1 downloadable book sounds too good to be true.  It makes me a bit suspicious.  Aside from that, I wouldn’t mind checking it out at all.  Getting some sort of Kindle for comics would be key as well, but that will almost certainly have to come later.

  16. I’d use the hell out of this.  In addition to the major savings in money every month, I’d be saving a ton of space on stuff that’s just taking up room.

  17. @kwoktalk Since the files are exported straight from Quark or whatever I’d imagine all books should look fantastic.  Nothing like the terrible scans we’ve (all?) seen without any colour correction done and poorly merged pages for spreads.

  18. It’s not set in stone that each issue would be $.99, the publisher actually sets the price. I’m not saying that this automatically means publishers won’t use the recommended buck a book, but according to the CBR article that is NOT A FIXED PRICE.

     I fully support this, though I wouldn’t in anyway use it as a replacement for my physical monthly issues. However, the thought of being able to pay a few bucks to get caught up with a title and then continue on buying the physical monthlies (Or spending a few bucks to to get to the point where I can start buying trades) is appealing.  Also appealing? The potential ability for publishers to release the digital issues EARLIER thn the physical ones. There are sopme books I’d probably buy digitally a week early to read and still pick up at the store on Wednesday.

    Also, the possibilities for digitally distributing back issues is nice. There are certainly a lot of old mini series or runs that I’d buy. In fact, I can imagine myself just browsing Longbox when I’m bored and spending five or six bucks just buying old mini series that look interesting and reading them right there. In fact, that would probably be my main use for it, should it allow for publishers to list backissues.

  19. I’ve probably written a column about this every two months for the last year, so I’ll simply say that this is like someone plucked a dream out of my head and breathed life into it. If the major publishers strangle this in the crib, they deserve to go out of business; whoever buys the rights to Spider-Man off of the corpse will have more sense.

  20. @Josh-Exactly why I would check it out.  I can’t stand hearing the wife nag about not knowing where to stick those damn longboxes!

    I’m on board with this, but I can see how some would be hesitant because they absolutely love the feel of a comic book in their hands.  I do too, which is why I would still buy trades quite often.  Especially of the stories that I ended up enjoying because of the $.99 digital price.  But even if this service doesn’t end up working out, there are bound to be others like it.  It can’t be denied that digital comics are the future!

  21. 99 cents per issue? Bullshit.

    I dont care if this is a new format and Marvel/DC want to use this new application for digital format. No way are they going to charge that little for new releases. Sure they wouldnt have to pay for paper costs or anything like that. But no way would a comic be under or about a dollar. I say it’ll be at least $1.50-$2 per issue.

    This will be the future of comics, and I have no problem with that. But until LCS stop existing and until comic book companies cease making paper versions of their comics….I will always buy my comics at an LCS and not read digital.

  22. I know I’m behind the times, but I haven’t gotten around to regularly using iTunes (I’ll stream something on a band’s Myspace and then buy the physical CD if I like it; I’ve owned 1 mp3 player and didnt even care when it broke), and I definitely haven’t found enjoyment in reading comics via downloaded .CBR files, so I don’t think I’ll be into this either.  I can’t stand being around my computer screen all day for every bit of entertainment that exists.  I like that I can read my comics on the couch, at the breakfast table, in bed, in the bathroom, etc…  Also, just as pirated music has led to all of the local record stores closing down in my town, this is only going to lead to my local comic shop’s suffering as well, and that’s really not cool.  But hey, that’s all just me.

  23. @JeffR I’d bet money they’d charge a little bit more for one-shots or landmark issues (like a #600). However, this would also affect what the publishers (espcially Marvel) would pack into one issue. Plus, iTunes has recently increased the cost of more popular tracks by 30 cents or so. That’s not much more, sure, but it takes away the convenience/charm of only having to pay a dollar for that one song.


    I will not deny the power of scans and how they can help readers catch up on stories/continuity without having to take a serious gamble with a book they wouldn’t enjoy – this is true for the big events, especially Marvel’s – and the ‘sampling’ aspect of diving into a random issue of something and seeing if they like it or not. However, let’s not kid ourselves about how this affects the lifespan of books; I can only roll my eyes when people who exclusively download their favorite series kick and scream about why Blue Beetle or Captain Britain are being cancelled; if those people had only bought the issues for those books, they probably would not have been cancelled.

     People underestimate the numbers and impact of comic piracy, and I’m glad that someone is taking serious action about it.

  24. That’s another thing, and maybe it’s just because I am not used to digital yet.

    But are people willing to sit on their butts for long periods of time; look at a tiny screen (whether it be regular computer or laptop) and read the comics you have? If you have a small pull list (like me) then maybe 3-4 comics wont be too bad. But what about people like changingshades or the iTrinity who read on average 20 comics per week? I dont know if anyone could get used to that.

  25. The "can people look at a screen that long?" argument is always funniest when made on a web site people spend all day on.

    "I can’t read comics on a monitor. I can only read ABOUT comics on a monitor. For hours. Every day."

  26. Man, I’m so ready to ditch single issues. Bring this on and bring it on now!

  27. @Jimski: But this is different then going on an application and trying to read word balloons on a Batman comic. They are going to have the change the way they showcase the comics online. Cause if it’s anything like how Marvel does it then I am not going to do this Longbox app. Cause the way Marvel does it is a pain in the ass.

    @conor: I guess that means your not running the website anymore? 🙂

  28. @NextChamp Marvel’s method sucks, but there are lost of cbr/cbz viewers that work really well and intuitively.

    It’s also WAY less straining to read comics on a screen than it is to read large amounts of text.  (So I guess I mean non-Bendis/non-Claremont comics)

  29. You know who also went out of business?  The folks who performed horse and buggy maintenance.  Eventually, people will have to adapt.  I have nothing against comic shops, but you can’t cling to an old business model for all time, and hope things work out.  I’ve been to a number of fantastic comic shops who see this writing on the wall, and have a multifaceted business, concentrating on trade sales and alternates besides just weekly issues.  I don’t want anyone to go out of business, but at this point, things will have to change.

    @TheNextChampion – We all put in a lot of time in a given week reading comic book pdfs, from publisher samples and pdfs to review copies.  We got used to it.

  30. I don’t know if people realize how much better comics look on a computer screen than they do in print. The production in comics is all digital now. It’s how they are colored. I’ll see a comic in pdf and then again I’ll see the printed version and it’s amazing how much more vital the colors are in the digital version.

  31. @conor: That’s all subjective. Cause I can tell you comic books look the same to me if they are in print or digital form.

  32. @NextChamp: There are lots of crappy scans floating around that definitely look worse, but preview PDFs do look as good or better, especially if you have a decent screen.

  33. I’m so in love with this idea I can’t even explain. And I would *happily* download my weekly books and then buy the trades from my LCS just to give them the business. 

    There number of books I would read in a month would probably triple if they were actually $0.99 an issue. And lord knows I would be a lot more likely to try out new, random stuff. 


  34. I’ve stopped now but I started pirating comics years ago after Crossgen went under, I subscribed to their online service and they released there comics online from the previous year. When they went under the only way I had to complete reading was pirating them, which led to finding other stuff in University, I got a job and got money and realized I was hurting my industry and started buying books again a year or two ago.

    Either way, what I’m getting at is, from first hand knowledge if you have a decent 21 inch screen a properly formatted Comic book page looks amazing on a computer and that’s scanned from paper. Straight from the publisher it’s even more beautiful.

    Depending on how it looks and what the interface is, I’ll jump on this and happily buy 20 books a week rather then 5.

    Plus I hate Diamond. 

  35. I’ve looked at there viewer and I think it’s kinda crappy. Too much clutter. The only thing you should be able to see when reading a comic book on screen, is the book. 

    All the bars and buttons should disappear and the book should either fit the screen lengthwise or widthwise from the preference of the reader. 

  36. That’s another thing; if Diamond thinks this will be a threat then no chance will DC or Marvel (and Vertigo) will be available to this. They will not let anyone get a hold of what is essentially 99% of their market. Again it’s all spectulative but if Diamond doesnt want to be apart of this then none of the major companies will be either.

    If this turns into, Diamond having DC/Marvel/Vertigo/Dark Horse on one side and this Longbox having the rest on the other. Then Longbox will barely last a year.

  37. What you’re describing is actually illegal.  Diamond can’t coerce publishers not to use another method of distribution.

  38. I took an informal Twitter poll on the subject.

    The question was "Would you pay $1 for a digital comic that you wouldn’t pay $3 or $4 for the hard copy version?"

    40 responses.

    32 – Yes

    4 – No

    4 – Maybe or It Depends


    I know that Twitter is obviously an internet savvy place to poll people, but it’s pretty clear that people are ready to add this to how they read at least some of their comics. Several of the responses were clear that it needed to be portable, and not require an internet connection to read them.

    Another interesting result is that there were current comics creators that voted yes.

  39. @josh: Didnt they do that at one point when Marvel wanted to do their own distribution? Oh wait…yeah that was illegal…

  40. @Crucio I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a full screen mode of Longbox, there has to be a way to zoom in to the page for people with smaller monitors.  Just showing full screen viewing wouldn’t make for a very useful screenshot though 🙂

  41. I’m not convinced that I’m completely ready to give up the weekly single issue routine, but at the same time this could be a great way to read a lot of comics.  Much as I love my longboxes and trade shelves, I often look at them and dream of having less clutter, wishing that somehow it was all pure gold, the best of the best, without all the stuff that was a good read at the time but that I’ll never go back to.  This could be a great way of maintaining that serial nature with those solid books where you’re keen to follow the story, and then just having actual hard copies of the real classics.

  42. I’ve seen a demo of this, and there are different viewing modes.  It was a while ago, but there’s a lot of really cool things you can do with the pages.

  43. I like it how suddenly the industry needs to change or die.

    I mean, comics have been in print for what? 70-80 years? (Not including the companies that were before DC/Timely) So suddenly things change need to happen in after about 2-3 years when digital is getting big seems like a bully tactic.

    Like: "Oh yeah Marvel you have been going great for 70 straight years. But now you need to go to digital or die!!"

  44. As of today I’m officially done with issues.  I want to send a message to the big two that I’m ready for digital comics.  So if they want my business regularly, they better get on board.

    It’s funny, just a year ago I wasn’t a fan of digital comics, now I’m begging for digital comics.  It’s amazing what $4 comics will do to you.

  45. It’d be cool if the mac version worked like ComicBookLover on laptops so that when you turn the laptop on it’s side it automatically rotates the view and reads more like a book

  46. @TNC: All media is going digital. You may not like it, but that’s what’s happening. There is nothing so special about comic books that they should be immune to reality.

    Yes, I’d rather have the trade paperback in book form, but I’ve been saying for almost the entire length of time iFanboy has existed (nine years) that I want to do away with single issues. If single issues go digital, I cheer. If comics go all trade paperbacks, I cheer.

  47. @thenextchampion  What are you talking about?  Diamond does and would not figure into any decision TIME-WARNER or MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT INC. make about the digital distribution of their comic.  I would think that is VERY obvious since Marvel already does it!  As for your claims of digital comics being a pain in the ass to use, looking ‘tiny’ on a computer screen, and looking the same as a printed comic… well,  statements like this make me wonder if you’ve actually seen a comic on a computer. 

    I don’t know about you, but the ones I read are much LARGER than a regular comic and I don’t find the act of scrolling down a page to be a ‘pain in the ass’.

    @ChrisNesseman add one more yes from me.

  48. @Hawkboy: That’s a great point. When I read digital comics now, they are bigger on my screen than an actual comic. And that’s without being zoomed in at all.

  49. @Hawkboy: I have used the Marvel digital website a couple of times. The format they use makes it a pain in the ass to read and the text is almost impossible to read. So hopefully Longbox uses something better then what they were using.

    @conor: I know we are advancing in culture and things are going all digital. I just find it funny with the tagline: Change or Die. Like if Marvel or DC isnt on the digital band wagon by the time Longbox hits then the company is ruined or something. I know that isnt the intent but it’s gets me a chuckle.

  50. that is soooooooooooo cool!

    bring it out now!

    hope it works out for them!

  51. I like the price point. I’m much more likely to sit and read comics i otherwise would NOT purchase, if it’s only a dollar. It will actually change my reading habits to become more like the old days of the pulps — comics are no longer collectibles, but rather disposable pulp entertainment. That’s cool to me. I’ll buy the best of the best in TPBs and hardcover collections, but on a month to month basis, I might read and file away, say, Green Arrow and Black Canary, which is a series that I kinda like, but not enough to spend $2.99 or $3.99 on.

    I didn’t really see this touched upon in the article, but a key factor in this would appear, to me, to be integration with various mobile reading devices. Ideally, I should be able to pop anything from Longbox onto my iPhone OR Kindle (or whatever device I choose). It needs to be as universal as possible. That’s gonna make the difference. It may be tough. I’ve seen some good uses of comics on the iPhone, but it usually involves a slight different use of the layout (thinking of Proof #1), which I read on my phone and enjoyed. If I can download an issue of something and read it while waiting in line or on the bus or whatever… and it’s still EASILY readable, I will totally buy into this. 

  52. @TNC: CBR/CBZ’s and PDFs are both FAR FAR better methods to read than the terrible Marvel website way.

  53. @thenextchampion Then I suggest to you if you can’t read the text on your computer screen then it’s a hardware problem on your end and not any fault of Marvel Digital comics.

  54. @daccampo Making comics into collectibles is one of the worst things that ever happened to comics IMHO

  55. Ah, I just read the CBR article, and I see that they plan to allow up to three different "uses" and they intend to do all sorts of formats, incluidng Kindle, iPhone, Xbox, etc. That is EXCELLENT. Very smart. Really seems like they’re learning from the experiences of other media.

  56. Rantz has covered a ton of bases, and really did answer a lot of questions that came up immediately.  This isn’t a half-ass attempt.  He’s just gotta convert the publishers, and that’s his challenge.

  57. Even if it never gets Marvel/DC I hope Longbox gets enough publishers/creators on board that they can stay in business.  I will happily keep using it as long as it’s around.

  58. In 2009, you can chuckle if you want to at the idea that an 80 year old medium would die just because it didn’t go digital. I’ll bet someone at the Times was laughing a couple years ago. Metallica thought it was so funny, they could sue MP3s out of existence.

    They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother/ when they said that man could fly
    They told marconi wireless was a phony/ it’s the same old cry

    They all said we never could be happy/ They laughed at us and how!
    But ho, ho, ho!/ Who’s got the last laugh now? 

  59. I remember when a cup of coffee cost .10 and comics were printed on paper.

    Betty White is not amused…

  60. I’m actually agreeing with TheNextChampion.

  61. @gobo – totally agree. And like Conor, I’ve been saying this for awhile — I will GLADLY move to digital once the right format comes along. I think these words have been spoken by anyone with more than 20 longboxes. 😀 I think "Longbox" may be that thing —  and I look forward to my digital pulp entertainment. 

    @Josh – Yeah, once I read the CBR piece (which I probably should have done first 😉 ), I’m in definite agreement. Rantz really seems to have covered the bases. I guess my biggest curiousity is whether or not the actually format change will lead to a layout change from device to device. See if this makes sense:

    As mentioned above,I read Proof #1 on my phone. I was skeptical, but it looked great and was easy to read. What I noticed, however, was that they had to "chop" the layout a little bit. So, what I’m wondering is: does this mean that comics creators/publishers will not only have to export to one format, but to multiple formats? Or, will it be one format, and then I’m back to zooming in and out on the iPhone (not good). I’m sure Rantz has considered this, but I’m definitely curious.

    Another possibility is that just as comics creators began "writing for the trade" years ago, they may now also learn to "write for digital," creating layouts that can easily be manipulated for smaller devices like phones, etc.

    Definitely curious to see how it all plays out.

  62. This looks promising, especially since it will support all operating systems. I’m a Linux geek and I hate being left out. I hope the developers look at Comix for Linux. It’s a great comic book reader that has a lot of cool options such as rotating the page so that users can read comics on netbooks at pretty much 100% size. I do have some digital comics, stuff like Deadenders, which I own in issue form but were never released in trade. 

    I’m interested to see what the plans are for DRM. That could easily kill this movement. If I pay for the book, I need to own it and not just a license to read it.

  63. It sounds like it’s definitely DRM’d with use on 3 devices if I understood the CBR article right.

  64. I don’t think DC or Marvel will join Longbox (and I love the name). What this might do is ramp up their efforts to do something like this.

    It will probably break down to DC and their imprints on one version. Marvel and their imprints on another. Then either Image with one, or Image and all the rest on Longbox.

    Which is also fine by me, competition is good and with 3 or 4 programs going, you’ll see them improve quicker then if one came out. With only one it would probably ‘feature’ stagnate, no reason to improve if you’re the only game in town. 

  65. Hello iFans!

    This is my first post, so hopefully I can make a good point…

    I’m an Apple/iTunes/iPhone aficionado, but after 30 years of comic book reading… I’ll be hard press to fully switch to Digital Comics. I do agree with all the thoughts presented in the comments, and I would most likely join the Longbox revolution to check out new stuff from small publishers, and maybe some cross over tie-ins like Secret Invasion, but not for my mainstream collections.

    The other thought is that DC and Marvel are not just comic book publishers, they’re also corporations in a way. We all know that print cost is getting ridiculous, but no one is thinking of what is costing DC and Marvel to pay the creative folks for their work. At a dollar price point, they would probably have to sell ten times digitally, what they sell in print to be able to stay afloat. With Marvels initial increase to $3.99 and their thoughts on maximizing profits, I find it hard to believe that a price point of .99c seems unlikely from the big publishers. And for one, I will not pay more than .99c for a digital comic.

    A good way to do it would be to sell the digital copy early with a discount voucher for the single issue when it ships to the LCS. Regarding LCS, well if anything, the big publishers do owe plenty to the LCS for keeping them in business.

    I do agree with the "Change or Die" slogan.

    Digital Comics will happen, there is no doubt about it. But, because we like or dislike they idea, it doesn’t make it a good one.

  66. @zayaz: Wouldn’t 1/4 the price mean they’d have to seel 4 times more to stay afloat?  Also that’s not taking into account the significantly reduced cost in production and I have to assume a significantly cheaper method of distribution.

    I think this will be a great thing for non-collectors too, assuming comics don’t disappear from Longbox it would be a great way to catch up on issues when they’re not readily available in stores anymore

  67. I am all for this.  However, I am afraid it won’t happen due to Marvel and DC’s foot dragging and Diamond’s strongarming.  Josh is correct that it would be illegal for Diamond to stop anyone from using another distribution method, but they can certainly tell Marvel (or DC, whoever moves first) that they will increase their distribution cost by 50% if they take part in this.  That is monopolistic behavior, but Diamond has been a monopoly for a long time with no consequences.

    I also sincerely hope the final product is prettier and considerably less cluttered than the horrible, crowded interface featured in that screenshot.  If it has a fullscreen option, then my last statement is irrelevant.

    Sorry if my pessimism has stifled your excitement.  I am used to it (Economics is known as the dismal science for a reason).

  68. People who think the $0.99 price is too low for the majors are seriously overestimating how much of the cover price of a print comic makes it back to the publisher.

  69. @jamie: Do you know what Longbox’s cut is of each sale?

  70. Yeah, I had the full demo, but I don’t think it’s my place to say. But I will say that if it takes off it will make indie comics like ours viable again.

  71. @zayaz: When you buy a Marvel comic book for $3.99, all of that money doesn’t go to Marvel. A small percentage of it does.

  72. @jamie: That’s fantastic news

  73. @jamie – it’s a good point, because with the move to a the higher minimum for Diamond, the idea of self publishing got a lot harder.  It makes it nearly a necessity to go through Image or someone like that.  So if you can’t get in there, you can’t get in.  That makes me excited.

  74. Think about it this way: the cover price (and advertising with the majors) has to cover printing, distribution, warehouse storage, the store’s cut, etc. None of those costs are needed with digital comics.

    I do think it will lead to an increase in trade sales, and I don’t think we can let nostalgia get in the way of progress, or our industry will die. Only something like 25 comics sold over 50,000 issues last month. I’m not keen on reading comics onscreen myself, but it would be foolish to ignore the thousands of people who are.

    Also, consider all the people who don’t live near a well-stocked comic book store.

  75. I just saw that I could possibly also read comics on my Xbox 360 as well as my personal laptop and I love it!

    @Jamie-Thanks for the insight!  

  76. I think this is a fantastic idea.  Back when Crossgen was around, I subscribed to their online comics and I really liked the idea of a subscription service back then but I got burned when they went under.  I freely admit that I then pirated every single book they had put out.  Most people don’t want to pirate.  If you offer them a legal, reasonably priced alternative, those people will use it.  The ones who don’t never would have paid for it in the first place (imo).

  77. Queenrikki – spot on.

  78. Not only would I get Longbox for my comics, I would get an Xbox for Longbox. Thinking about my comics on my HDTV provokes Pavlovian salivation.

  79. Regarding publisher participation – There are man, MANY more publishers on deck. We’re launching with 7, rolling out more publishers over the year after launch.  Top Cow and Boom! were early advocates, and were our first announced publishers.

     RE: UI. As Josh noted, there is a ‘minimum UI’ mode, and a ‘Power User Mode’ (no UI, all hotkeys)  We very much believe you should have the experience you personally naturally expect in reading… and that is different for different people.

    RE: the $0.99 price point.  We’ve met with every publisher, and there is only one publisher who balked at the $0.99 price point, and I promise you it is not who you would think it would be.

     This is JUST the tip of the iceberg folks.  A teaser of the whole…

  80. @RantzH – Thank you for the info.  Keep up the good work.  I hope you can get the big boys on board and reap the reward you deserve.

  81. I’m all for cheaper comics lol.

  82. @RantzH That just sounds more and more awesome!  If I ever get a chance I am buying you so many drinks!


    (predicting it was a license-heavy publisher, maybe IDW, who balked at the $0.99, but I know we’ll probably never know 🙂 )


  83. Allowing everyone to get in on the action would be great too for Indies. I can imagine the big publishers wanting tiered pricing eventually just like on iTunes.

  84. This would actually get me to buy comics again.  Currently I only subscribe to the marvel online digital comics, which while the image quality is pretty good, their "player" sucks.  Anything that isn’t marvel online I steal.  Yeah I said it I STEAL.  Really it’s only an issue here or there, or I borrow TPB from a comic friend.  

    I can’t wait!!  Is there information somewhere a beta program?


    Regarding the 99 cent price….  Let’s do a little math.  So most comics are 2.99-3.99.  Your local comic shop is probably buying those at around 40-60% of cover price, so let’s assume 50%.  That’s 1.50-2.00.  We don’t know, but we can guess that Diamond is taking 30-50% of that money.  So the publisher is only going to get .75 $ on the low end to 1.40 on the high end, per issue sold.  If you don’t have the printing, paper, production and shipping costs, publishers might actually make more money from a digital comic than they would on a print issue.   Now, that was all pure educated guess work so I might be complete wrong, but I don’t think I am THAT far off.    

  85. Zayaz said it so much better, but that’s what else I was gonna go with in terms of this succeeding or not. 99 cents is not enough to cover for the people who work for the comic. That goes for the writers, artists, editors, companies that might do the lettering/artwork, the publisher itself, and probably Longbox itself because they are using their own property to digitally release their comics.

    I’d find it hard to believe anyone would take a paycut just to get their comics out at a cheaper price. Cause that’s what is going to happen; they are going to get a small paycut cause the money they receive 99cents per issue is waaay less then the 2/3.99 they get now from every issue.

    @stuclach: Marvel, DC, and Diamond arent going to agree to this. I dont think we’re even going to need Diamond to force the other companies not to do it. The more I think about it and the less money they are going to get for the 99cents per issue; they wont agree to it. Besides, if DC is slow on the trade market; then what about the online market?

  86. If comics switched to digital format, I wonder what that would do to the “extra content” we normally find in issues. Imagine getting packed with your purchase a PDF of writer/artist notes or scripts or even better yet a little short video interview or commentary from the creators!

  87. @TNC: Did you see what Jamie McKelvie and Rantz posted?  McKelvie said it was a system good enough that he could make Phonogram succesfully and make money at it and Rantz said they’ve got 7 publishers lined up all ok with the 0.99 so far. 

    @cker: I know Diamond charges less to the LCS’ depending on how much they order (which is why DCBS can be so cheap), but yeah everything I’ve heard indicates there is a TON of markup from both Diamond and the LCS’ and very little goes to the actual publisher/creator 

  88. @cker your assumptions on percentages are not that far off, and I can say this… for most comics publishers and creators would make equal or greater revenues via LBX with 10% of the current print market.  This is a business, first and foremost. No one would give us the time of the day if we were telling them they would lose money doing it.

  89. Alright who are the 7 publishers?

  90. @TNC: I figure we’ll find out at SDCC, they need something to announce then too!

  91. @RantzH: I tried signing up for the newsletter (in the probably vain hope to get on the Beta list) on the Quicksilver site ( and it doesn’t seem to be working in FF or Safari for the mac. 

  92. I know this is gonna sound crass or pessimistic but this is probably the voice for a lot of people:

    If they dont announce DC, Marvel, or Dark Horse in this announcment….then I dont care. When they decide to get those 3 on board then it’ll be news. If they dont have them, then they will fail. I know Rantz is posting on here but he’s gotta know this. Longbox doesnt have the big 3, then they are doomed.

  93. @Josh: Are you going to publish your first book, via longbox? That might get the whole ifanbase to check it out.

  94. @TNC – you’ve made that point, several times over.  The horse is dead, and you’re not adding to the convesation by naysaying over and over again.  It’s OK to be skeptical, but we get the point.

    @TMacken – I would definitely use this as a way to distribute my work, given the chance.  That said, I do hope to go through a publisher as well.  It’s not an either/or situation though.  But, that’s the cart before the horse at this point.

  95. @TheNextChampion…  I agree that longbox will be more sucessful if they had  DC and Marvel.  But why not  look at it another way, if DC and Marvel don’t do something like longbox, they are doomed.  LongBox can be very sucessful without Marvel or DC.  They may not change your reading habits, but it will change mine, evern if it doesn’t have DC or Marvel.  However consider if LongBox got a publisher like Viz, or TokyoPop?  Those markets are much larger than DC or Marvel.

  96. @TNC – why would they automatically be doomed? What’s your logic there? All they have to do is be self-sustaining. And all that means is being profitable for Longbox and the publisher. Without all the overhead of traditional publishing, it seems to me that they can do a lot more with a lot less.

    I’m also guessing that most publishers are going to be printing their books regardless — so a quick export to a longbox format is no additional cost to a publisher. The only cost it could be is if people stop buying the printed copies in order to buy the digital. So publishers may end up printing fewer copies to compensate, but as long as they maintain the readership, it’s a wash. In addition, I’m sure publishers are banking on the fact that this lower pricepoint will bring in people who wouldn’t normally read the smaller publisher’s books. I guarantee you I’ll read more Boom! books at $0.99. I like that publisher, but $3.99 is often too steep for me.

  97. In fact, if Marvel and DC don’t join up, I wouldn’t be surprised if I actually drop a few titles from those publishers in order to get more for my money from indie publishers. Dropping two $3.99 books could get me EIGHT titles from a smaller publisher. Bang for my buck, that’s what that is.

  98. I wouldn’t be surprised if the bulk of Marvel and DC aren’t available.  Or, maybe that they’d only offer limited books.  Perhaps the newest Green Lantern or Avengers, or whatever high selling book wouldn’t be available.  My guess is that they’d try to take the route of doing it themselves, like some of the record companies did early on, and they failed at it. 

    The DRM on this is reasonable I think, and it’s possible that eventually it would change, just like it did with iTunes.

    But the absence of Marvel and DC is not a death knell, and I’d be surprised if Rantz put all this work, time, and money into the project if it all hinged on those two companies.  There are likely revenue models that take that into account, and still make sense going forward.  It’s certainly possible to succeed based on the great comics from Boom, Image, IDW, Top Shelf, Ape, Viper, Ad House, Dark Horse, plus self publishers and the rest of the companies.

    But we’ll have to see what happens.  I’m not willing to rule out success.

  99. @cker: Now THAT’s an idea! Get anything Naruto or Bleach related….Longbox will be the richest online company in town.

    @daccampo: If you dont have those three how much of market sales do you have left? 10% or less of the industry in terms of money? There’s no way a company like this could survive if their biggest company is Dynamite or Top Cow.

    @josh: You gushing over it? Yeah thats not beating a dead horse either.

  100. I’ve made specific and relevant points in the discussion.  If anyone else in this thread thinks that I, on my own site, am being a nuisance, I’d welcome the criticism.

  101. @TNC-I would be more than willing to try more Top Cow, Dynamite, Boom, IDW, etc. books if I could get 3 issues for the price of a single floppy.  How can you say Longbox won’t survive off of that 10% of the industry?  How do you think Dynamite and other publishing companies survive in this business if they only make up 3% (give or take) of the total books that are bought each month?  I think you’re over-estimating just how much it takes to for publishers stay in business.

  102. @daccampo Agreed on possibly spending some of my money to try out books from the smaller publishers. They’re still generally unfamiliar territory to me and I’d be way more willing to try out a title at $0.99 than at $3.99 or even $2.99

  103. I didn’t bring it up.  I’m trying to maintain an effective, enjoyable discussion by moderating threads on my website. If I think you’re trolling or close to it, I’ll let you know. Thats all there is to it, and it’s completely at our discretion.

    Sorry for the disruption folks.

  104. @drakedangerz: Maybe I am over-estimating. I’m just thinking in terms of if in the future: Longbox has a good amount of the indie publishers while DC/Marvel still print on paper. I’m not saying I wouldnt read Boom, IDW, etc on this system. If it’s a good system I will go to it. I’m just looking at this in terms of a business model. I’m sure Rantz thought this all out and I bet he’s trying to work out a deal with the big 3 right now.

    @Josh: i’ve heard things….you dont wanna know who has DM’d me on Twitter or Facebook 🙂

  105. oh man I didn’t even think about manga.  I read Dragonball and Ranma 1/2 (fan translated versions) way back in the day.  I’ve wanted to buy them but on amazon they are a little bit pricey.  If for example i could click in longbox and buy the whole series for say $3 (random guess) a volume, I totally would

  106. @RantzH not sure what the full feature set it, but email notification when a new issues of a subscription come out might be cool

  107. I’ll admit…I would even read manga if it was available in Longbox.  That is how much I love the idea of digital comics

  108. @TNC How can you with a straight face and with total authority and finality say that .99 is not enough to cover the cost of a comic??? Do you have the exact cost breakdowns of what it takes for a comic book (digital or otherwise) to make or break it somewhere on your computer with the tiny monitor that makes digital comics unreadable?  I’m not saying you are wrong but I am saying you can’t know you’re right, and you can’t speak in absolutes because you have no freaking idea… none of us do. 

    Oh…And let me perfectly clear when I say you are not the voice of anyone except yourself.


  109. Great discussion, and I for one am impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Unlike many fledging initiatives, this has the earmarks of an actual business, with a well thought out, scalable model.

    I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions I’ve seen in the comments about Diamond and their ‘monopoly’ position. Let’s be clear about one thing, Diamond is only a monopoly at the behest of Marvel and DC, not the other way around. Marvel and DC remain very much in control of that relationship and hold all the cards, at least from a long-term perspective. 

    So any talk about Diamond forcing Marvel and DC to play ball and avoid Longbox mischaracterizes the situation entirely.


  110. Was there any mention of creators without a publisher releasing books through this? Obviously I’d hope for some content quality control of some sort, or at least someway to filter that stuff out if unwanted? I don’t know what the process is on iTunes to get your music in their system, if an actual record label is REQUIRED. 

    I don’t know, I love thumbing through my boxes of periodicals and all that too much to give that up – I’m not even sure if I’d swap any titles to digital – but I know that I would spend at least an extra 4 or 5 bucks just to get some new titles. I’d probably start reading BOOM!’s zombie tales, or their farscape books (And maybe I’d FINALLY get to read IRREDEEMABLE since the first two issues I can’t find anywhere). Fringe has a comic too, that I’ve wanted to read but didn’t really want to spend so much on. Stuff like that I’d have no problem just Longboxing, though.

    and, like I said before, if I could just open this up when I’m bored and quickly download a story arc or mini series and read it in a matter of minutes? I’d be broke so fast.

     The library functionality is interesting too. The only comics I’ve downloaded have been, like, PHANTOM comics from a million years ago that I can’t reprinted and other stuff like that, mostly. I wonder if the Longbox format has metadata built in for year, writer, artist, etc. or a way to assign those things to CBRs you already had. I’d assume so.

    And potential AUDIO backmatter? I’d Longbox stuff I wouldnt normally read if i knew it came with page "commentary" or audio/video backmatter. I LIVE for that stuff. This is all so exciting. 

  111. @TNC 

    You mean big two right? Because I’m pretty sure for Image it’s just at the creator discretion whether to join this. And maybe for Dark Horse as well, I’m not sure. 

  112. @Hawkboy – you make valid points, but try to tone it down a notch.  No need to make it personal.  We’re all just talking.

    @Wood – Great point on Diamond’s relationship with the publishers.

    @sgrsickness – Now you’re seeing the possibilities.  As a platform for buying comics, it’s one thing, but think of all the other stuff that becomes possible.  You could even put a…. dare I say, podcast on there.

  113. @Miyamoto: I heard someone say (Maybe McKelvie, but I’m not sure) that Image creators could go independently to Longbox to get their stuff in if they wanted since they own all the material, but perhaps if they go through Image itself they’ll get a better deal? 

    Sort of like how CDBABY acts as a sort of virtual label for independent artists.

  114. @josh Being able to link your talksplode with Joe Casey talking about Four Eyes to the Four Eyes "page" on Longbox would be a HUGE value add.

  115. Did you do that on purpose?  Because if not, it’s even funnier.

  116. @josh Unfortunately it’s only funny, not funnier

  117. I’m not so sure you need Marvel or DC to sign on in order to make this a success. I think if they have a good offering from enough well known creative talent they should do well.

  118. @gobo – We saw it happen in real life once, and it was glorious. I felt bad for the guy who was just trying to give a compliment, but man it was funny.  Well played.

  119. @ericwilder – Was thinking the same thing. We only have to go back 17 years when Image Comics was founded to see what can happen when the talent takes control of their creative fates. Same thing could certainly happen here – look at what Joss Whedon pulled off during the writer’s strike.

    What’s lost with the digital format though is collectibility but with digital distribution you also open up your marketplace in vastly interestingways (ex."First 100 downloads get a piece of original artwork from the issue").

    Color me a true believer.



  120. @Smasher I really think the collectibility does more harm than good, so this is a good thing

  121. I think this is spectacular.  So many possibilities.  For creators they might be able to self-publish without having to worry about getting paper copies out there.  For me, maybe I could read comics on my television through my Xbox (sweeeet!).  I think that I would probably keep some issues in single issue format (like Spider-Man) or maybe I’d just collect more in trade. Whew, so many thoughts running through my head at once, hard to keep them in order.

    Just curious, but does anybody think a subscription service like from Zune could work? Would it be good or bad? 

  122. @gobo Yeah, I’m not much of a collector either. Still, having a digital marketplace to sell your work opens up a lot of possibilites. Wonder if Longbox has the versatility to do this.

  123. Was there any other info on how to become a part of the beta testing?  I would be extremely interested.

  124. @cker It looks like just CBR members and people at the panel at SDCC will be able to get in, hopefully iFanboy members will be able to get in too.

  125. After reading the article the toher day I made a CBR account just in hopes for trying the beta.

  126. I’ve made specific and relevant points in the discussion.  If anyone else in this thread thinks that I, on my own site, am being a nuisance, I’d welcome the criticism.

    Posted by josh on 06/22/09 at 04:12 PM


    Anyways for the few that know me and have talked to me for more than 5 minutes knows that I like to collect issues.  I’m somewhat of a rare breed now a days as I’ve actually yelled at people not to touch my issues.  I love sitting and reading comics anywhere I please, sorry lugging the laptop into the bathroom isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but I realize that this is a great tool.  I also love the hunt for issues when I don’t have one.

    The big harry BUT is that honestly there are a ton of books I would buy for .99 that I don’t right now.  If someone makes a solid breakthrough on color e-ink and I can have a reader to go along with this it would be great.  Also there is the twisted side of me that thinks that as soon as less books are printed my issues will hopefully be worth something some day. (iFanboy may now correct me as they have done in the past :P)

    I’ve read issues on my laptop purely because they were books I wanted to read and was too lazy to go to the Library.  It’s not the greatest thing in the world, but I know if my laptop had an external display or I could get these on my TV reading comics would be a whole different experience. 

    Also as for Diamond, seriously they need more competition because the way they run their business is Dildos.  I’ve looked into opening a shop and the things they can demand being the only business in town is downright ridiculous.

  127. I guess my plan would be to buy half of my comics online and the other half at a shop. There are some that I want to hold when I read them, while others that I don’t feel as connected to that I wouldn’t mind reading online.

    As long as the companies are still selling trades, the Stores should still be in business, but it’ll definitely be harder to stay afloat.

  128. I think this sounds awesome. 99cents an issue would be great and I would just buy trades of stuff I really liked. I would read more comics because I would be able to afford it and it would cause new readers to read more comics I think.

    ‘hey i can buy this for 99 cents and I don’t even have to leave my computer. I like Batman sure I will give it a try.’

    Bring on Longbox!!!!

  129. Didn’t the 99 cent cost in itunes increased after a while? Wasn’t the 99 cent thing very limited? Also why would people read cheap digital comics? It seems like people will delete them quickly because they’re cheap and easy to get rid of, and because they don’t catch the reader’s interest, and there’s no guarantee of a 2 out of 3 etc. I think that people will get tired of the static nature of it and go watch a youtube video instead.

    Also I’ll hate to lose hand made comics entirely. You can create brilliant coloring with hand made comics. Comics nowadays aren’t even near that level.

    Also I really don’t want to take my laptop with me outside to the couch-swing-thingy. It won’t be comfortable, and I’m still not sure about mobile devices.

    The comments do have some nice points regarding it, but I guess for me it’s the case of "I’ll have to see it to believe it, and a kick in the ass to use it".

  130. Nothing about this indicates that it would replace physical comics.  If it’s not your thing, continue as you were.  I think it will be very interesting to see what happens. 

  131. @chlop – there are still $0.99 songs in iTunes. Some are $1.29, but most things I’ve bought recently are all $0.99 (and often additional pricebreaks for an entire album.

    I wouldn’t delete my digital comics quickly because what would be the point? I could easily drop thousands of them onto a cheap external hard drive and store them. But putting that aside for a moment… what’s wrong with reading and deleting entertainment? I recycle my old magazines. I don’t keep them. I delete TV shows from my DVR after watching them. 

    I’m at a point where I’ve collected single issues for far too long. I’ve got probably about 50-60 longboxes (not even sure anymore). And I don’t re-read 98% of them. I’m ready for the digital equivalent of the old days — a story I can roll-up and stick in my back pocket. I don’t need a collectible in a mylar bag. For me, a dollar digital comic is the exactly what I want — 15 minutes of pulpy serialized fun. And for the high quality stuff? I’d still by trade paperbacks and hardcovers.  I’m not going to stop buying stuff like Fun Home or Three Shadows or I Kill Giants in TPB.But I could see buying something like X-men or Spider-man only in digital.

  132. What if Longbox offered an option to buy a physical copy of an issue or trade you just bought (for the purists)? Maybe through a partnership with another company?

    Also, digital comics on your TV or computer is one thing, but reading them on an IPhone or other small device is a chore, at least the way comics are currently formatted.  Now if someone were to come up with some sort of of Kindle-type portable device…..

  133. @josh – I’m still building an ark. 

  134. @70namerepuS – I think the key to Longbox’s biggest success will come with building a model that can handle whatever new device comes down the pike. And in whatever shape or form. Certainly, a full color Kindle is inevitable. But I have read and enjoyed a few comics on my iPhone — with the caveat that they only worked because they were formatted for optimal viewing on a phone-size device (layouts where chopped up a bit). If longbox can accomodate the best viewing on the widest array of devices…? I think they’ll really have something.

  135. @70namrepuS – the publishers do a crappy enough job at producing the comics, so a third party sounds bad, but maybe all those orders going just through them will improve their production. Maybe if people buy 99 cent comics, they won’t want a 20$ trade so maybe they’ll have to use cheap paper.

    @Daccampo – I backup stuff as well, but they get forgotten about and/or temporarily lost. It’s more of a "getting new readers" thing – I’m interested in that aspect.

    Also having only digital comics or mainly digital (don’t know if it’ll happen obviously) will shut a part of the population that doesn’t want their kids reading via screens or using their tech products.
    Digital comics seems to mean to me that people will want gratification faster, and that nowadays with fast gratification entertainment, you don’t have something forcing you to sit down and read (gratification comes in page 200 – good luck), so will cheap digital issues that are easier to get rid of – because of the price and that it’s digital, will actually get people to read them?
    There isn’t the receipt staring you down or the copy itself, there’s also people afraid of using credit cards online.
    I tried reading something from the Gutenberg Project – something that I actually wanted to read but didn’t want to pay the cash to, but I got distracted by the plethora of things I can do with my laptop. Look at me now – I’m reading a constant updating website instead of reading the books I loaned from the library.

    The "hey we have digital comics! but the same people are reading them" seems wrong to me, but maybe they’ll sustain the industry and eventually allow for a greater selection of genres, meaning greater interest = greater readership.

  136. @daccampo – I don’t know, 2 page splash pages don’t have the same impact on an iphone screen. But seriously, I’m not ready to stop buying physical issues entirely with the info available right now, but the prospect of trying out something new at home or on the go at a steep discount is very intriguing, to say the least. That’s what will draw me in, what devices will be available (besides computers) will probably make me a loyal customer. 

  137. @Wood and Josh – You mentioned that Diamond is dependent on DC and Marvel.  That is true to an extent, but Diamond is not SOLELY dependent on DC and Marvel (see Indies/Manga/everything else).  On the retail side Diamond is actually a monopsony (single buyer) for the "retail" sector from the big two’s point of view.  So, essentially DC and Marvel need Diamond more than Diamond needs them.  [Diamond is also a monopoly (single seller) from the LCS point of view.]  They are currently the ONLY middle man in the "retail" side of the game.  I think Diamond holds more power than some of you give them credit (or blame) for. 

    If Longbox is able to become successful without Marvel/DC (I pray that happens) then DC and Marvel suddenly have a valid bargaining chip and Diamond loses some bargaining power.  Then we might see DC and Marvel move to Longbox (or something like it).

    On a side note: FUCK Diamond for failing to evolve.  FUCK our government for not breaking up an obvious monopoly.  FUCK DC and Marvel if they don’t at least attempt to make this happen over the next few years.  I am tired of bags, boards, and out-of-stock/never-gonna-be-stocked comic shops.  And finally FUCK YES to Rantz for working hard to make a change and a profit (gotta love capitalism).

  138. I’m very excited about this, I’ve been able to enjoy comics on my computer for a bit of time (bought the "Complete Mad Magazine DVD collection a while back). Do I enjoy the feel of the paper in my hands and the sound of the page turn? Sure, but I can do without it really. I’ll continue to buy my trades of Walking Dead and Whatever Absoulute DC puts out, but if this takes off (and I hope it does) I am down. My only ONLY concern would be backing up the files I downloaded, cause we’ve all had a computer crash and end up losing alot of itunes or whatever download files, as long as I can back them up (like I can my Itunes files) I will give this company my money TODAY. (I’m sure there’s something in the CBR article about file back up, but I got excited and wanted to write this now)

  139. A few points of clarification and/or information…

    Publishers – the 7 launch publishers will be announced over the next few weeks leading up to SDCC. The 7 publisher launch is a choice based on us wanting to gradually increase the bandwidth placed on the system.  If we were willing to rush in, we would be at higher numbers than that.  On a sidenote, while we certainly welcome DC and Marvel’s participation, the entire system was designed to have a business model that would be successful and profitable for all involved if they chose not to particpate.  While we are certainly aware of the current make-up of the DM, one of the key marketing focuses of LongBox, Inc. is outreach to mass market consumers of digital entertainment.  If you think there isn’t a market for comic content outside of the DM, you haven’t really looked at the facts.

    Manga – We not only embrace manga, we actually have a ‘Manga Mode’ in the reader (which you can see in the upper right hand corner of the screenshots) which flips the L-R reading order, and gives the ‘traditional’ R-L reading experience.

    Future Platforms – the LBX APIs are proprietary and platform-independant.  We’ve already begun work on platform support for devices the general public is not aware of.  Being on a given device is driven by the question of ‘does this make business and market sense’ not a matter of ‘can we technically do this’ (with the exception of the DS, because of its memory and color palette limitations)

    Parents/Kids – as mentioned on the panel, the LBX platform has a rating system, and allows for parents/users to have age-restricted sub accounts.  Said sub-accounts allow parents to let their kids browse both the storefront, currently purchased titles, and read titles… but only those within the specified ratings.  You don’t have to worry about your kids ever seeing Black Kiss in the storefront, or seeing your copy of Milo Manara’s "click".  Those titles simply ‘do not exist’… and are never displayed for the sub-account.  It’s a better parental lock than most digital TV boxes or game systems.

    Print – there are multiple angles in place to actually use LongBox to BOOST and grow print sales, rather than eliminating, reducing, or making it a binary, divisive issue.

     Thank you for all of the kind words folks.  We’ve been working on this for going on three years, and are very excited to be able to actually start talking about it in public.

  140. Sooooooo excited for this.

  141. @RantzH – can you expand on how it would boost print sales?  It’s cool if you can’t….

  142. @chlop – I dunno… given the success of iTunes and possibly the Kindle I suspect there’s a large enough populace ready to buy digital things with digital money. 

    I understand what you’re saying about various media vying for you attention, but I don’t fail to watch every episode of LOST just because there’s stuff on YouTube. I think (or hope) there’s a place for everything and that the best of each media will always get noticed. I definitely think there’s an element here that requires the publishers to be on their toes and to churn out the best, most highly addictive stories they can. The Longbox model has the opportunity to get comics out to a lot of people who wouldn’t set foot in a comic shop. The publishers have a great opportunity here, but they’ve got to be putting out the best product possible. I think this will be very interesting to watch.

    @RantzH – Thanks for the clarification. I’m glad you’ve stopped by and added comments. The more I hear, the more I gain hope that THIS could be the digital future that I’ve been waiting for.

  143. @stuclach re: Diamond

    Let me add some clarity to the Diamond situation. You are absolutely right that, as of now, Diamond and Marvel/DC are inextricably linked. Diamond provides them with tremendous value not the least of which is a buffer to prevent returnability. It’s the wall of non-returnability which allows for Marvel [and presumably DC although I don’t have access to their financials] the ability to have the most profitable and predictable publishing business in the Western Hemisphere. The margins on Marvel’s publishing are the envy of the publishing world, and that’s a byproduct of the aforementioned non-returnability but also due in no small part to the fact it doesn’t have to carry the warehousing, inventory management and transport logistics on its own P&L. Diamond effectively serves as an off balance sheet entity for the Big 2, and a very valuable one in terms of helping make the profile of their operations look appealing the shareholders and board members.

    But what you also need to remember is that Diamond only has this monopoly position because it’s the best option for Marvel and DC. But that doesn’t mean the Big 2 aren’t open to, and not aggressively pursuing, other avenues.

    With the reports of Steve Geppi’s financial woes, and the potential for that to impact his ability to hold onto or effectively operate Diamond [all predicated on circumstantial evidence admittedly], Marvel and DC have contingency plans in place. It’s widely believed that DC has an option to acquire Diamond, and Marvel just recently amended its own operating agreement with Diamond to provide itself with additional flexibility under certain outcomes. 

    Someone earlier said that Diamond would fight Marvel and DC if they got behind something akin to Longbox. My point, and it still stands, is that Diamond has no such leverage. Diamond can’t renogiate the fees it charges for its services, they are contractually denoted and ironclad. And with DC and Marvel responsible for 80% of the direct market between them, Diamond has NO leverage in this process, none.

    Absent Geppi dismantling Diamond; which makes no financial sense, he is at the mercy of Marvel and DC to sustain the business model as currently constituted. And if Geppi is the savvy businessman many believe him to be, I have to believe he understands that his monopoly is weakening due to the secular shift into digital.

  144. @70namrepuS

    I’m not Rantz, but I can tell you how any digital distribution model is theoretically designed to boost print sales. The idea is expanding the audience. The direct market is HIGHLY profitable for the big publishers, but it’s a numerical truity that the core readership is in a long-term secular decline. The only way Marvel and DC can avoid either much lower margins OR ever-increasing prices is to expand the audience; and that’s not going to happen by traditional means. The chickens have left the coop as it relates to the mythical "let’s get comics back on the newsstands" and other such backward looking ideas.

    The hope is that digital distribution will increase eyeballs. A LOT of people have no idea comics exist or, if they do exist, where they can buy them.

    If we can get tens of thousands [if not hundreds of thousands] of new eyeballs peering into the digital comics platforms like Longbox, you could easily increase print sales. How?

    Let’s say you love Proof by Image and read it on Longbox for $0.99. Every time you read Proof online it says to you, "Hey, how would you like a trade collecting this arc for $6.99?" Or imagine what you could do to promote archival materials. You digging this month’s Usagi Yojimbo on Longbox? Imagine if they present to you a chance to buy the older trades at a discount.

    Now, whether this will ACTUALLY increase print sales is a great question. But I understand the bull case for those who think it will.

  145. Jason Wood: Dropper of Knowledge

  146. @Wood – It is good to hear from someone with inside knowledge.  I think this is the key statement from your post (correct me if I am wrong): "he understands that his monopoly is weakening due to the secular shift into digital."  That is exactly the point I was trying to make (your eloquence knows no bounds).  The development of a viable digital alternative is what removes Diamond’s power as a monopsony buyer of Marvel and DC’s product (which I would argue they had [in the retail space] in the recent past).  Thus the bargaining power swings (and Diamond’s bargaining power ebbs).

  147. @stuclach, exactly right.

     As it stands now, I would agree that DC and Marvel would move heaven and earth to keep Diamond afloat, but a year from now? Two years from now? Not so sure.

  148. Damn….Rantz shut me up.

    Seriously dude thanks for coming in and clarifying all of the points we’ve been disagreeing on. I am still not 100% convinced this will succeed (especially since you basically stated Marvel and DC wont be apart of this as of now) but still….this is full on dedication to make something the next big thing. Hope everything works out for everyone involved.

    Now what I wanna know….when are comics going to go into our dreams? That’s the next big step after digital comics. People around the site will be like: "Yeah that dream I had of Captain America #900 was amazing! But I had nightmares with Greg Land art on Uncanny X-Men #800". 🙂

  149. Could Marvel or DC test the waters by throwing in low selling books like Captain Britain and MI-13 and seeing if that boosts total sales while keeping the headliners like New Avengers in only paper format? Or would it be more strategic on their part to test the waters with the better selling books like New Avengers? 

  150. so when does all this start?  I’m tired of riding my bike all the way out to Shelbeville to pay $3.99 an issue and pray that I at least get a variant cover for all that money just to read like 20-something story pages.  I was about to just switch to trades soon anyway.  This sounds even better for me.

  151. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I like the future. The future is cool. I’m on board.  


  152. I really hope this works

    I think it’s going to be a very slow switch to digital the same way as music. I don’t think were ever going to see a comic that’s just going to be on Longbox. So there’s no reason for some people to worry about this ruining there ability to drive to a store and pay x4 more for an issue. This program will live in harmony with the LCS the same way as Best Buy and Itunes for a long time.

    Plus i think both DC and Marvel are going to have jump on board, just for the reason there comics are highly pirated already they may as well get some money out of it. With DC will jumping on board way before Marvel because Marvel has already dumped alot of money into there online program. There going to want to see some return on there investment before they pay someone else a small percentage of what they already do. DC have yet to try on online comic distrubtion maybe because they have been waiting for something like this to do it for them. 

  153. @jefap – but won’t they ruin their established distribution that way? Someone stated here that the more books the LCS buys the more discount it gets – something like that (I don’t know if it’s true). If they risk losing people buying from LCSs the LCSs might not sustain themselves or make it worth their effort. Will the loss of paper costs help? Won’t writers and artists ask for more money? They can threaten going solo in this platform – especially the established names.

    Will they gain new audience via that platform? I think in the second interview with Jim McCann he stated that Marvel has a limited amount of money to pay for advertising, and it seems that advertising isn’t something they’re too good at. Do they have enough spare change to risk it with this platform?

  154. If it saves me money, i’m all for it. I like the initial idea.

  155. Another thing I’m curious about, will this work outside of the United States? I love the idea, but living in Canada, I hope that I can still use it.

  156. Man, swear to God, I had this EXACT idea for distribution like last year (more or less.) Not that I would ever have done anything about it of course.

    I am SO on board.

    The only limitations to iTunes outside the US is dependant on when albums are released. I’m in the UK and if an album is released here before the rest of the world, then UK iTunes will have it first.

    I’m assuming a similar structure with Longbox – although comics are released in the same week worldwide (…right?) so it probably won’t be an issue. Although confirmation of this would be nice?

    Also, what would be the deal with self-published comics? Say I wanted to produce an issue, I had it in the right format, it was ready to be put up on Longbox. How easy would it be to get up there?

    While this would be a tremendous opportunity for indie creators, the quality control needed for this would be considerable – we don’t want masses of Drunkduck users putting up MSPaint comics. Therefore…how would it work, exactly…?

  157. Oh! I totally thought of something else:

    Advertising. I’m assuming advertising will be a big part of this (and I’m cool with that!) but how will it work?

    Will there be adverts within the pages (a la print comics,) forced adverts on screen at points (a la Spotify) or simply "banner ads" and the like within the program?

    It wouldn’t make much of a difference to me personally, but I’m sure it would be an issue for some.

  158. From what I saw, you can have the ads as they are in the print comics. However, with the program’s linking capability, I believe that means the advert can also be a link to the product’s website or whatever – which would surely make it an appealing option to the advertisers.


    But as far as I am aware, the digital version of a comic will/can basically be exactly the same as the print version. So a comic like ours would have no ads.

  159. A reminder those who believe there is no way that a publisher could make money on lowering its price per issue in digital format. A current printed comic book on average costs between $2.99 and $3.99. But how much of that actually goes on physical printing costs and paying Diamond to distribute them?

    Digital Comics can be sold for less because neither of there are no print costs and Diamond aren’t involved. I’m sure that Longbox will take a cut per issue to showcase the item for sale, but other than that the publisher only needs to be able to pay the creative team, and anything else is profit to them.

    I think that in the end the price will be closer to $1.50 or $2.00 if the Big Two get involved, but it will still be maximising their profit by getting rid of Diamond alone.

  160. @TheNextChampion Grant Morrison is never EVER allowed in my head

  161. the $.99 pricing is cool – but it would also be cool to offer some sort of subscription option, so that come wednesday, i have all the new books i subscribe to sitting on my hard drive waiting for me.  like, a yearly fee, or something.  similar to the way itunes handles a tv season versus a single episode.  which could potentially open up the possibilities of offering a bit of added savings if you subscribe to a book for a year – i.e. $.99 for a single issue or $11 for a year (which works out to $.91-.92 per issue)  the possibilities/opportunities are endless!

    someone earlier mentioned the app comicbooklover allowing you to turn a laptop sideways and having the image rotate to fill the screen – in essence you’re holding it like a book, with screen in left hand and keyboard in right.  i remember the time i first witnessed a page rotated that way – i suddenly saw a medium/product i had been in love with nearly all of my life in a whole new way – like the first time i saw star wars or ghostbusters in widescreen.  it was just amazingly beautiful.  the issue was shit – but it sure looked pretty!  🙂

  162. Here’s a take on Longbox from Kieron Gillen.

    "Let’s deal with the smaller one first: while certain shops stock us very well, the vast majority don’t. Issues disappearing within hours of them arriving is pretty common. We lose any kind of casual floating readership who may just fancy the look of it. If someone reads a story about Phonogram and walks into a shop, they probably won’t find it. They’ll walk out. They’ll probably forget it. And that’s our basal-to-optimistic level. When we get stories about shops who literally refuse to order the comic, we just wince. Even worse, our comic has a considerable readership outside the traditional comics readership. Many of these don’t even live near a comic shop. Many of these may not even know that comic shops exists. Some of them are a bit Emily Aster and will refuse to go into comic shop on principle.

    It’d be good to have a way to sidestep that."


  163. Damn Josh beat me to it..  Curse you Flanagan

    If Longbox means I can have more Phonogram everything else good about it becomes secondary to that.  I NEED more Phonogram.

  164. macdad34 – I believe there is a form of subscription integrated in Longbox. They’ve thought of a lot of this stuff, don’t worry.

  165. @jamie  thanks for the response!  i’m so excited for this to be reality…

  166. @Cooper – if nothing happens during shipping and if customs are willing, and if your LCS buys new comics every week – some choose to buy every two weeks.

    As for quality control – it can be done with taking a fee upfront instead of taking a cut of the sales, or taking both – maybe a "if you don’t sell well we’ll just take the fee". Also I would imagine that a "you bought X, maybe you like Y" thing might be implemented, and ratings/reviews a la Amazon – still didn’t get a chance to read the CBR article.

  167. a good read on Kieron Gillen’s blog

  168. firefox didn’t pull the new comments, sorry I didn’t see josh just posted that link

  169. More clarifications, mentioned at the HeroesCon demo…

    Subscriptions – Subscriptions (if publishers choose) will be available. 12 issues for $10, with the ability to set new titles once available on a download-on-connect basis, or a manual ‘fetch’ system. Subscribers get the discount vouchers

    Indie creators.  Yes, both established and new indie creators can utilize LongBox.  There is a formalized process for doing so, that ensures quality standards (regardless of genre, style, etc). More details on that in the upcoming weeks.

  170.  "It’s great to hear that Top Cow and Boom! Studios are on board, but that’s not enough.  Unless Longbox can establish agreements with the big 4 publishers: Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics, it won’t succeed, and I’m sure they know this."


    Top Cow IS part of Image Comics, they are one of it’s studios, so they already have part of one of the big 4 publishers 

  171. If Marvel/DC seriously try to go more than $1.29, fuck them. $2 would be bullshit.

  172. I’m totally fine with $1.99 if it ended up going that way. That’s a heck of a lot of savings.

  173. i’m with conor on this…  i’d be fine going to $2.  that’s still 2 for 1 – and i still get the advantage of having thousands of comics on a hard drive versus a multitude of longboxes in a closet that keeps growing and growing.

  174. This is only going to help broaden the comics market! And at $.99 an issue, $10 for 12, I can guarantee you I will give this a whirl. Now where do I sign up?

  175. I think 1.99 might work for current comic fans but I think it’ll be too much for broadening the audience.

  176. @gobo

    Exactly. $2 for 22 pages is still pretty damn pricey compared to other entertainment. Plus it’s DRMed and digital. 

  177. @miyamotofreak – who said anything about 22 pages? I guess they can publish the entire Bone collection in there and put in GAP ads in between. I don’t see why they should stick to 22 pages – now they can add extras, emails etc. They can also put in as much ads as they want (I presume).

    And if they want to be sweet they can somehow allfow people to scan barcodes or something else and get a digital copy for free or for cheaper, but it doesn’t stop people from taking other people’s scans or scanningsomeone else’s book.

  178. I don’t see how anybody could truly complain about a $2 digital comic book. You’re still saving at least  $1. With times as tough as they are I’d take that in a second.

  179. I agree with gobo and miyamotofreak on this.

    For comic book readers a $2 price tag is still pretty good. (I’d prefer $1.50 but I’ll live) It’s either a dollar or two dollars cheaper then what you’re paying now (depending on the comic) which is great. But if your gonna sell that to the rest of the public or non comic book readers….Then that’s not good enough. People arent going to pay for something already starting at a $2 price. Maybe if it started at a $1 and then raise it up, people might deal. But starting with such a high price, no it wont work.

  180. mmm, yeah… I’m gonna have to agree and say I’m much more skeptical about $1.99. $0.99 seems like a great disposable pricepoint for me. I would test new books at $0.99 and I would slowly eliminate some borderline books. However, $1.99 is bordering on territory where I’d still feel like I wanted the physical copy. Not as a collectible, but as something where I’d want to value the art on the page. I feel a little conflicted at $1.99.

    You know what would make the difference? An EXCELLENT full-color reader. A sleek iPhone style device with the screen dimensions of a Kindle. If I had THAT, then I would truly be ready to ditch paper altogether, and then 90% of my current monthly titles would go to LongBox and the e-reader, and then $1.99 is still a very nice pricepoint.

  181. @chlop – I see your point about the small LCS being hit really hard by this, but there already on the ropes. Most of the really small ones are going to fold, it’s not a question of IF it’s question of WHEN. Hey I like my LCS but if this works out I really won’t have a problem not visting a dark dungeon each week and buying my trades from a book store. 

    A alot people are acting like there going to go to there LCS and there’s going to be empty hole a week after this thing comes out. I think it’s going to be a couple of years before the shops need to really decided what there going to do next.

    I see this as the same thing as Instock or Amazon to trades most shops have to feel a major hit from these places but they keep going. 

  182. Sorry to post twice but i think i have a big question that i haven’t seen asked and screen shot dosn’t answer it ether.

    What about Ads?

    This is loss of alot of revenue for the big 4. I remeber reading once that a newspaper would be outrageous sumf money without ads. I guessing the same would be true for comics. I don’t think i would care if ads where in the file but marketing dosn’t seem to understand how to sale there product on websites or in comics now. There going to so scared of this new format.

  183. Only Marvel and DC use a lot of ads.  Dark Horse has some, and Image only do house ads for the most part.  Some Top Cow books might be different.  No reason you can’t put them in there though.

  184. Image does in-house ads and only at the end of the book.

  185. I’m willing to go $1.99 for *some* Marvel titles (re: anything I’m currently paying $3.99 for) and I’d certainly get a subscription. Ads I can live with; I barely notice them anyway unless I see them a zillion times (like the slugs getting ready to snort salt).

    I’d buy a lot more titles at $0.99, though.

  186. @jefap: Jamie McKelvie said this earlier in the thread "

    From what I saw, you can have the ads as they are in the print comics. However, with the program’s linking capability, I believe that means the advert can also be a link to the product’s website or whatever – which would surely make it an appealing option to the advertisers.


    But as far as I am aware, the digital version of a comic will/can basically be exactly the same as the print version. So a comic like ours would have no ads."

  187. Haha, thanks. I was beginning to think my comments were invisible. 😀

  188. Hey quick congrats to Jamie McKelvie, because it’s his art I’m seeing all over the web since it’s the Phonogram stuff being used at the Longbox preview. 

  189. New software would be great providing it is truly not "brand" or publisher limited. I want to be able to read all of my books on one piece of software. That is not the main thing though. For me a good piece of hardware for the reading of the digital books is most important if they want to get this off the ground. It has to be large enuff and light enuff, with a good battery life, and it has to be kept affordable. Difficult I know, but if they take the "give em the razor for free, and we will sell them the blades" mentality it might be do-able.

    There are already several good pieces of software out there that do the job, the one most like itunes is called Comic Rack (You can find it here ) it has almost every thing u could want in a reader and database. It actually very much looks like itunes. The only problem is that after the first couple of thousand books, it starts to chug. And at 30,000+ books it is down right slow.

    I would LOVE for this to be done right, but there are so many camps that have to be made happy that I think it is going to be rough. Good luck to em.

  190. Loving the discussion as it continues to evolve.

    Personally, I think there’s an ENORMOUS difference between $0.99 and $1.99. I know many people, myself included, order our books online and I get 40%+ off the cover price as a rule. I would’ve stopped buying a lot of comics a long time ago if I had to pay cover price. So for some, DCBS [an iFanboy sponsor] customers especially, $1.99 is unappealing because I can get the printed version for $1.99 or less already.


  191. Here’s a question, what if when you bought a trade, you also got a CD so you could put your comic on the computer, much like the "digital copy" that comes with DVDs now? I wouldn’t mind that truthfully. Sure if you already have the trade, why have a digital copy on disc to upload, but it’s more a "travel" thing I suppose. I don’t want to luge 9 "Preacher" trades on a trip. But if I got a "Preacher" disk per trade that I could throw on my computer and have the whole collection to have on a plane, that’d be grand. 

    What do you guys think of that step? 

  192. I’d think if they were going to offer a digital copy, along with your trade, they’d want do do that in the form of a download code, as opposed to DVD. Since the publisher could handle the printing of the code, themselves, all it costs is bandwidth then.

  193. Wood beat me to it.  I think there’s a big difference between $0.99 and $1.99 digital downloads.  I recently made the switch to DCBS and with the discount a $3.99 comic is $2.39, so I wouldn’t mind paying an extra 40 cents just so I could have the convienience of having hard copy that I can take anywhere and not have to worry about DRM.

    I seriously think the publishers are pushing it if they think can charge more than $0.99 a download.

  194. @TMacken: True, I guess I just mean any kind of digital copy, either a code or disc or whatever.

  195. For me the entire point is getting rid of a format I don’t want anymore and if that means I get to pay $1.99 (which is a savings of at least 50%) then I will happily clap my hands while I do it. It’s not about the fact that you can order your physical single issues on-line for the same price. *I don’t want the single issues anymore*.

  196. @conor, would you still purchase trades of the books, if you also had them on your computer?

  197. I’m allllmost there with ya, Conor… my only hangup is that I want a slightly better reader than what we currently have. I really need it to be a portable device so I can lounge on the couch or read at a cafe, and the current options are quite optimal yet. I think $0.99 is a great starting pricepoint as e-readers continue to evolve. That said, with the right device, I think I can truly move into the paperless world, and then I’ll have different feelings about a $1.99 price tag.

  198. *current options are NOT quite optimal yet

  199. @TMacken: The ones I really liked, absolutely. Trade paperback is my prefered format.

  200. @conor, what about the stuff you currently read in trade, like "The Walking Dead" would the lower price point, and lack of need for storage of single issues, cause you to pick it up monthly?

  201. @TMacken: No, the stuff I read in trade I’d continue to read in trade. There is more than enough reading going around that I don’t need to convert to singles on stuff I am getting in trade. I’d use Longbox to read the stuff I am currently reading in singles, as well as to try out new stuff.

  202. @conor Even that Bat books?

  203. @Jurassicalien: I’d be ecstatic if DC joined Longbox so I could read the singles digitally.

  204. It’s awesome to see how much conversation the Longbox announcement has stirred up! Nice article, Ron and a great conversation starter.

    I just wanted to drop by and add that we’re pretty damn excited to part of the launch of Longbox and having sat through Rantz’s pitch and demonstration I can say it’s very impressive. Rantz and his team have really thought through not only how things work technically but what publishers and fans are going to want to see. He has a TON of exciting things that they will be announcing as we get closer to the launch that I think will illustrate how well thought out their business plan is.

    One other note – one of the big attractions for publishers to a valid digital distribution system is the potential to reach customers who are not regulars on comic website and comic shops. Both of those places are great but they are buy and large "destination" sites for die hard fans of the medium. I don’t got to music websites but I drop plenty of money on iTunes. We’ve largely lost the "casual" reader and this could be a great way to capture them.

    Take care,

    Filip Sablik
    Publisher, Top Cow Productions
    Read Berserker #0 for free at!

  205. "One other note – one of the big attractions for publishers to a valid digital distribution system is the potential to reach customers who are not regulars on comic website and comic shops. Both of those places are great but they are buy and large "destination" sites for die hard fans of the medium. I don’t got to music websites but I drop plenty of money on iTunes. We’ve largely lost the "casual" reader and this could be a great way to capture them."


    Exactly, Filip. I’m very excited that publishers like Top Cow have got the foresight to see this.

  206. It would be cool if Longbox could easily integrate the selling of related physical merchandise (t-shirts, mugs, posters, ltd ed. signed prints, even the hard copy trades) right alongside the digital downloads. Then I think creators could really cash in. (Man I want a "Guerilla’s" t-shirt).

  207. for all this talk of finding a comic book version of ITUNES, i’m suprised apple hasnt jumped on this and tried to put comics into itunes.  Take their proven business model to the publishers.

     or maybe they have? Hmmmmm.

    Still, i’m looking forward to Longbox.

  208. Honestly, it’s probably not worth the effort to iTunes.  They probably make more in a day than comics do in months.

  209. aye fair point.

    shame, really. no slight to the longbox guys, because at least theyre giving it a go, but an itunes interest could well have been the major kick that the idea needed.

     still i really hope this works.

  210. I think this could be a really good opportunity for Image.  They have an opportunity to act more like editors and less like publishers for someone willing to publish all digital.  Image could take a small cut for the submittal process and for having your work branded as Image also possibly advertising, as the creator you’d get more eyes on your book because people would know your book is good because Image is putting it out (assuming Image actuall picks mostly good books, which is a big assumption) There wouldn’t be that much risk for Image to put out new books and once you sell enough digital copies it would then be easy transition to hardcopy TBs. 

    Everyone seems to be in agreement that this is bad for Diamond but why hasn’t Diamond already created a system akin to Longbox? It could have been just another channel of distribution for them.  They could have linked it more thoroughly with hardcopy sales.  They already have a relationship with all publishers.  However I am glad that they didn’t do this as I am not a big fan of Diamond.  If Longbox ends up hurting them the I feel it is their own fault, they don’t even have a digital copy of previews yet, I mean come on!

    I for one would start reading monthly issues, right now I pretty much only read alternative/indie books from publihsers like Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly etc.  but for $0.99 I would buy a couple "mainstream" books, I really don’t care about collecting them so digital would actually be preferable  

  211. I can’t wait for this to start.  I hate have to pass on books because I don’t have the cash.   This is going to be great. 

  212. Its the database/sorting/etc that I am looking forward to. Of the 3 programs I use, one is just a viewer and it is awesome. The other one is just a database that downloads all the comic info but does NOT link to a specific cbz file. The last program I use does link to a specific cbz/cbr file. but it bogs down at about 5,000 books. As I am up to 33,000 files it REALLY chugs!

  213. So any update on a timeframe on the beta? Really can’t wait.