Digital Invincible!

San Diego Newsalanche begins in earnest this morning with word that Iconology Inc. has launched the Comics by comiXology App, a digital comic store/reader for the iPhone and iPod touch.

This is where things finally start to get interesting.

If you take a look at the press release linked above, you’ll quickly see that the list of affiliated publishers includes a number of names you’ve actually heard of in your life. In our many recent discussions of Longbox and other digital comics possibilities, the one thing that people have noted over and over, even though ten people already said it, almost as if the only comments they read are the ones they post themselves, is that the make-or-break key to the success of digital comics will ultimately be the participating publishers. Probably the most significant among those on the Comics by comiXology list is Image Comics, and the most significant part of that significant part is the news that apparently Robert “Manifesto” Kirkman has agreed to an exclusive deal with Comics by comiXology, “making it the only place to get Walking Dead and Invincible for iPhone and iPod touch.”

I don’t know what that means, exactly. The language is strangely specific. I never assumed that Walking Dead would be available in five different places for the iPhone. Does this mean that it won’t be available on Longbox? Is this the exclusive digital outlet, or just the exclusive Apple outlet? Only time will tell, and by “time” I may mean “three days.” This is San Diego Newsalanche weekend, after all.

Still, any time now you’ll be able to read all of these books on your phone, via an interface that they seem very proud of. I have been as vocal a proponent as digital comics could possibly have ever since getting hired here, and now that the moment is finally upon us I find myself with surprisingly mixed feelings. After years of making fun of people for saying, “I can’t spend all that time reading comics on a screen! Now, to spend all day at work and school reading off a screen,” I find myself saying, “Ugh, digital comics… off my phone? I’m not sure I want to read from my phone.” But this falls squarely in the category of “make up your mind, already.”

So let’s call this a huge positive development. I can’t wait to get a look at this thing. What about you?


  1. I’m interested to see how they do this. A full page on an iphone screen would not be fun to read at all…

  2. I always wanted to check out Walking Dead and Invincible, but I had to sell my iPod Touch ages ago.  Oh well.

  3. While I think it’s a good thing overall, the exclusivity really makes me hesitate in fully applauding. I would hate for different publishers/series to be released in different places or even worse, across different applications. Having everything be released through one channel (Longbox/iTunes/whatever) would just be so much easier for the consumer, although I realize that might not be in the best interest of the publishers.

  4. I just don’t care about phone distribution… Longbox I like. When somebody gets a deal with the Kindle I might take interest.

  5. Any new, legal, digital distribution is good.  I’m not psyched about reading comics on my iphone, but it’s a big step forward and I will try it since I love Invincible.  

  6. The "for iPhone and iPod touch" line makes me think that they were specifically speaking of that platform and not any others (especially since there are already at least one digital-comics service specifically for the iPod/iPhone). I hope their exclusivity hasn’t pushed Longbox out, since they are, more then likely, who I’ll be getting my digital comics from.

  7. I wish they would offer audio comics so I can listen to my books while I bake.

  8. @BettyWhite I can never remember what I read when I read when I’m baking. It must be because I’m so hungry, ya know with the baking and such.

  9. Cinnamon makes the crappiest cookie smell great. It’s a baking nightmare.

  10. I hate when you mess up your books with ingredients when you’re turning pages…annoying!

  11. @BettyWhite-You’re h@wt!!

    I couldn’t care less about viewing my comics on an ipod.  I want Longbox!  Still, great to see movement on digital comics, regardless of what that movement is.  It can’t come soon enough!!!

  12. This regresses the comics pride movement decades. More people might read comics, but they’ll never bring an issue on the train again, and if somebody’s watching, they’ll bring up a "OMG 2taly OT!!!!!1" message they saved and pretend to SMS.

    Say it loud – I board and I’m proud! 

  13. I just looked and it seems like each issue is $2.00. I would rather stick to trades for that price.

  14. @Rocket — Kirkman’s books are the only $2 ones I’ve seen so far.

    @all The exclusive just covers iPod type devices. There are multIple comic readers selling comics now. This doesn’t impact Longbox at all.

    I have other problems with Comixology’s app that I’ll get to in a special Pipeline Podcast tonight. 🙂

  15. If we end up in a situation with five different applications and many comics being exclusive to one application or another, then the digital revolution is going to be a massive pain in the ass INITIALLY.  However, competition is good and the competition generated from multiple apps should mean that they end up competing on quality (assuming similar prices) and that we, as comsumer, end up with a higher quality product.

  16. Screen is too small on my iPhone for me to take reading comics on it as a serious endeavor. I may grab an issue on it to try, but there isn’t enough screen real estate to make it enjoyable for me. Now, if they had the ability to download a comic from an iPhone app, and read it either on your portable device, then sync it over to my PC and read it on my 22" monitor, then I could get behind it.

    And yeah, $2 for a digital comic is $1.01 too high. I wouldn’t want to pay over .99 for a single issue digitally. Also, and this is a minor gripe, but with this company banking on people downloading their App and buying books through it, I am surprised they are charging people for the app on the iTunes store and not just giving it away. Granted it’s only $1 but still, it’s just the principle of it. A lot more people may try this out if the app were free, thus making them more money in the long run. 

  17. That was quick for Longbox to have a big competitor already.

    It would be cool to read Walking Dead on the iphone. That what you can scare someone shitless when showing it to them. Ah Evolution…

    But if this is exclusive and Image isn’t doing Longbox, or I guess specifically more of Robert Kirkman titles, then I can’t see how that can be anything else but bad news for Longbox.

  18. Digital comics cannot come quickly enough for me. In an ideal world I would buy my weekly pull list digitally and pick up the trades at my LCBS. 

    Every entertainment medium that has delayed legitimate digital distribution of their product have only encouraged piracy. 

  19. I don’t want comics on my iPod.  I want them on my computer.  That is all.

  20. Well I just bought the app. 99 cents, figure it’s worth a go. 

  21. I have no interest in reading a comic on my iPod.  The screen is simply too small. 

  22. I agree with everything said above. I don’t think a dominant mobile application will be settled upon until the big two sign on. As much as we may dislike having Diamond as a single distributor it does ensure that retailer have a single point for ordering books. I guess what I am saying is that until we have a “diamond” version of digital distribution, I will not feel comfortable resigning myself to digital comics on a mobile platform. Comics need to learn the lesson that the music industry did: people are willing to pay for a digital form of media when it is easily acessable (please note that I understand that music does not require a physical format to be consumed and is therefore much easier to make the digital leap).

  23. I can’t comment other than to say…  Can I just say that I fucking hate keeping my mouth shut about things until the appropriate time?  Can I say that?


    Oh, and more news incoming…

  24. Rantz, you irrepressible tease. Is this news being annouced from SDCC or later?


  25. it’ll be announced in the next couple weeks.  We were scrambling to have paperwork done by SDCC, but it just didn’t happen in time.  Not spilling the beans is quite honestly killing me at this point… argh…

  26. I was dead-excited to hear you guys launching with Image, Boom, Mouse Guard, Phonogram, Viking & etc. at SDCC at least. Can’t hardly wait to hear more.