Marvel Inches Towards Digital Same Day Release

I can't wait to see what happens when they announce the price.

It looks like digital fans are closer to where they want to be, as Marvel dips a second toe in the water, scheduling a June 30 release for both the physical (in comic shops) and digital (on your Marvel app) of Matt Fractions Invincible Iron Man Annual #1

Say David Gabriel, Marvel's SVP of Sales and Circulation, "We're pleased to offer readers two options to experience Matt Fraction's absolutely thrilling work on INVINCIBLE IRON MAN. Fans going to their local comic store can pick up the entire Invincible Iron Man Annual at a low price that day or all three chapters through the Marvel Comics app."

The 80 page issue will reveal the secret history of The Mandarin, where they ret-con him to match the movie exactly for the upcoming third Iron Man movie.  I made that last part up.



  1. I will buy this just to show them that people want day and date releases.

  2. So would I but I’m waiting for desktop program instead of something just for smartphones. (C’mon, hurry up and get the PC client out of alpha and into decent beta shape. No AIR for me. Thanks.)

  3. One more reason for me to get an ipad. Hopefully DC joins us in the 21st century.

  4. Totally fine with Paper and Digital copies coming out at the same time. It’s a good idea.

    Just keep it that way and don’t tell me digital will be permanent in the future. Just have the two split….why is that so hard?

  5. Exciting to say the least

  6. Good for Marvel, but I have no interest in comics on my iPad, so I’ll be at my LCS on June 30. I wonder what they mean by:

    "Fans going to their local comic store can pick up the entire Invincible Iron Man Annual at a low price that day"

    What low price? There’s no way they’re selling 80 pages for less than $4.99!

  7. meh

  8. @TNC: It’s not so hard. No one is saying otherwise.

  9. I am all over this. I love the Marvel App on my iPad. I hope this is a precursor of things to come.

    I am curious what the price will be.

  10. They don’t explicitly say it but if you read between the lines:

    print version $4.99

    digital copy "all three chapters" with the app currenlty charging $1.99 per issue so does that mean $5.97 ?

  11. Is there any way to access this app without an iPad (or an emulator)?

  12. totally excited for this, however not excited if they break it into 3 "chapters" at 1.99 each. Why can’t you just give me the full comic at the same price (or even less cause there’s no paper) than the thing I can get in stores? 

  13. Trust both Marvel and DC to do this wrong for a good long while. Three chapters at $1.99 each is doing it wrong.

  14. @Conor I couldn’t agree more. I have no problem paying the same price as print right now (though I think that’s stupid too) but come on making me pay more for something that only exists on my iPad? Just doesn’t seem right

  15. @AriesDog: Comixology, the makers of Marvel’s iPhone/iPad app, have just released a new web app (i.e., something you can use on your desktop) for reading comics.    I have used it to read a few of their free comics, and it works very well.  I imagine that Marvel/Comixology will release a version of the Iron Man Annual that will be available for viewing through the web app.

    @uuuhyeah: That’s an interesting theory.  If Marvel does that, they’ll be making a mistake, in my opinion.  Of course, I am assuming Marvel actually wants to gleam some information off this event.  Offering the digital copy at a higher price will artificially depress the demand.  To do a true test of what future demand will be for digital comics on day and date, they need to offer the digital versions at the same price, or just slightly below, the printed versions.  Again, I guess I am assuming that digital comics released day and date will be LESS expensive than the paper versions.  This may not actually be Marvel’s thinking. 

  16. @stuclach: See my comment to AriesDog. 

  17. @ctrosejr – Thank you, sir.

  18. @uuuhyeah and @SmokMnky — you guys just nailed my one hesitation here. It’s not that I think it needs to be WAY cheaper, but purchasing 3 times at $1.99 doesn’t seem like starting off on the right foot if the print version is $4.99. Still, it’s… progress. A little. It’s easier to see that it WILL happen, perhaps sooner rather than later. 


  19. Uh. More expensive for a digital vesion? Yeah, that makes sense.

    Color me unimpressed. I could ultimately be interested in digital comics if I were to have a reader that is the same size of a comic book. But the silly ipad is much too small. And I’m not interested in scrolling. And this pricing scheme seems just ridiculous.

  20. @j206: Do you have an iPad and read comics on it? I do. No scrolling required. It’s damn near perfect as a comic reader.

  21. @stuchlach:

    You can get a Mac and then download Xcode or the iphone/ipad sdk for the emulator. It will also be available for the iphone. 


    If comic readers were econoimically conscious, everybody’d be reading in trades. As far as "doing it wrong", everybody in the "old media" is doing it wrong. why cant I just get a file that I can run on any device ever? Not want to be tied to a platform? Problem Solved. Saying that Marvel or DC is the culprit would be innaccurate. Nobody has learned the lesson from the music industry.


    Mandatory "It costs to do those wooshy wooshy panel transitions"

    They are also currently beta testing a (probably)non-marvel beta web store and viewer. Nobody has posted impressions online, so I don’t know how good it is.

  22. Keep in mind the characteristics of the average iPad owner when considering the price.  Most don’t know what a comic generally costs (and will have no idea what a physical copy of this particular issue will cost) and most have a considerable amount of disposable income (as evidenced by the fact that they have an iPad).  I don’t like the price any more than you do, but the consumer Marvel is aiming for isn’t necessarily you and me.

  23. @muddi900 – I’d rather not use an emulator.  I’d like to support this attempt by Marvel, but not to that extent.

  24. It is at least a step forward, well maybe an inch but movement at least and that makes me happy. Now if only DC would come out with something

  25. This a cool step forward but I still will be buying the print my current iware is only thoe phone and comics are just ok for me on the phone. Still prefer print

  26. @muddi900 oh you are right how could I forget all that effort and time involved to do swoosh animations… 

    @j206 the iPad is a great comic reader and you don’t need to scroll at all. The marvel app (and comixology and iverse) work great. If I could it would be my primary reader 

  27. @muddi900: We’re talking about comics here, specifically. That is why I mentioned the comic companies that are relevant ot this discussion.

  28. @stuchlach:

    Most ipad users do not care about comics period. What you are talking about is a small subset, and they don’t really care about day-and-date releases. I know people are excited but I doubt it will have any bearing on Marvel’s future digital policy, regardless of success or failure.



    And I was stating blaming them solely for this problem is wrong as a) other companies are also doing it and b) they are just part of a bigger problem.

  29. I only have the iphone but I will buy at least the first part on the marvel app just to support the idea than go to my store to buy the whole issue.  Marvel is going to get things wrong at first but at least they are trying.

  30. @muddi900: I disagree. The smaller companies are more open to not screwing this up. It’s their chance to grab market share. Believe me, I’ve talked to them.

  31. I want to support this, but 3 parts seems to not make any sense. Ah, Marvel, just like the music industry, the TV industry and the film industry, screwing up the move to a new medium. One step forward and a giant step back.

  32. I will voice my dissent by not purchasing either! I probably wasn’t going to anyway though.

    Does anyone know the cover price is $5, or is that just speculation?  Because if the cover is $6 (very possible), then the 3 chapters would total $6, and it’s got parity, and Marvel saves face by not undercutting the retailers, which is the backlash is going to come from.

  33. @connor:

    That might be true, doesn’t mean they are going about it the correct way. They are neither tied down by the big media environment, nor do they have operational cost requirements, yet they stick to a delivery method that has been a proven failure in other media. If iverse has a sale on Boom comics and  can I buy it and read it on Panelfly or Comixology or some other app whose reader I prefer? Can I export it to my desktop with the gigantic monitor and continue reading there?

    The fact is there is already a market for digital comics, people who consume digital comics exclusively and there is a large pecentage of them who are not bearded, hygenically-challenged sea-faring, possesion aquirers. I personally don’t even have a problem with DRM, as long as its something as sleek and smooth as Valve’s Steam service, just as long as it works. 

  34. @josh it’s all speculation at this point. Something about 80pages at 4.99 I guess but you are right if the cover is 5.99 and they split it into 3 parts at 1.99 each it’s basically a wash (well digital would be better because of no sales tax either). However I hate the idea of them splitting it into 3 parts

  35. I would think it makes sense to have the digital version cost the same or more than the issue so as to not back stab the comic book stores.

    Personally I like buying new issues at the comic store and buying back issues on my iPhone. Like today I bought Fantastic Four #1!! How awesome is that?

  36. splitting up an 80 page comic into chapters and charging $2 a pop is a horrible idea. Its almost as if Marvel wants day and date digital to fail just so they can say "SEE WE TRIED IT…NO ONE LIKED IT!!!!"

    The whole point of eBooks was that they’re cheap so you can just consume information.  

    I agree with you Conor. The smaller companies like IDW, Darkhorse, Image…they NEED to pounce now. What do they think they have to lose? All their comics already exist in digital form. They just need to reformat them for distribution. 

  37. Still resisting global applization…

  38. The smaller publishers have a very small and tenuous grip on the direct market for revenue to lose. They lose the support of the relative few retailers who stock them, and they’re out of business.  I’m not saying they shouldn’t proceed, but that’s the risk.

  39. I’m torn.  On the one hand, I very much want to support Marvel moving towards more day and date digital availability.  On the other hand, if Marvel does indeed offer the download at equal or greater price as compared to paper purchases, that is really not something I want to support.  Fortunately, my $6 probably won’t make the difference in Marvel doing the rational thing (day and date at prices 25-50% less than paper) or doing something crazy (not going day and date or charging crazy prices).

  40. This whole internet thing is just a fad.  People will be going back to the newstands in droves soon enough.

  41. @josh–i’m only used to large comic shops in large cities where its easy to find anything. From reading comments on other threads i’m quickly realizing finding books outside of the big 2 can be a challenge at a vast majority of shops. 

    I’ve see current bands releasing Vinyl records, often enclosing a coupon to DL the album on iTunes or get bonus tracks. Perhaps the smaller publishers can integrate ideas like that. Added value and extra content that gives the consumer two viable options that aren’t direct competition with each other. 

    It totally sucks that publishers are bound to the whims of independent comic store owners.  

  42. In the end I suspect it’s not going to be Marvel or DC–or even the midlist publishers like Dark Horse, IDW, or Boom–that hit it big initially in the digita realm. It’s going to be some small company or even a just a single guy that has little to risk and everything to gain from hitting it out of the ball park. The right someone will notice, tweets and retweets will go out around the world, and we’ll all wake up to the fact that some guy in Iowa has just sold 200,000 copies of "Goofyman".

    THAT’S when Marvel and DC will start taking it seriously too.

  43. @muddi900 – I can really only talk from’s point of view but,  Micah has talked about an open standard on CBR once before, like an mp3 of comics.  We also have the motto of buy once view anywhere.  Meaining if you’ve been buying stuff on our air app, you’ll be able to download them on the iphone/ipad/android/etc.  Everything is tied to the account, not the device.

    @AriesDog – I keep hearing soonish on the Windows app.  Shoot me an email jons [at] and I can shoot you an email when I hear some more news.

  44. Oh wow I didn’t even hear about this digital copy being sold separately in 3 parts. That’s a horrible move on Marvel’s part. So it’s funny how we all say failure though before this even happens.

  45. @jstump:

    i know the industry hates cbz/cbr because “that’s what pirates use”, why not epub? Its new but widely supported apready and can be done with or withoutDRM.

  46. Seriously, what is DC doing?  You’d think Time Warner, of all companies, would have learned something from the music industry.

  47. @Josh: I liked your last paragraph of the article. And just because you made it up, doesn’t mean it’s not true.

  48. Is it within the realm of possibility that DC is taking a more cautious route, and that will ultimately be to their and your benefit?  People are moaning about the way Marvel is bumbling around this, so maybe they’re hedging their bets.  They lose nothing by doing so.  I’m not saying that’s the case, but the fact is, we don’t know anything.

  49. True, but given their firsthand experience and their resources, I would have thought that they would be at the forefront.  People are moaning because that’s what they do.  Marvel is playing both sides from the middle; protecting retailers while at the same time giving consumers what they want.  Of course, this is assuming that the speculative price point for the digital comic is correct.

  50. @josh and @ultimatehoratio – There is a concept in game theory (that focuses on competition) known as a second mover advantage. Essentially, if you move second (waiting for others to make their decision and then reacting) you make yourself better off.  Perhaps DC feels they have that opportunity.

    Apple has mastered the second mover advantage method (iPad and iPhone). 

  51. @stuclach – Good point, but Time Warner is always too late to the party as evidenced by the AOL merger, digital music, and now digital comics.

  52. @ultimatehoratio – I don’t think DC has actually figured out a second mover strategy, but one can hope.

  53. I think it’s still smart for DC not to do anything digital yet. It’s smart for them to see how the competition does before they full rush into anything new and experimental. As of right now they look good because Marvel’s first attempt at digital same day release is already a flop. I mean your telling me I have to pay more for a digital comic (in 3 separate parts no less) then a paper copy? Then yeah I’ll stick to paper. To me, $1.99 an issue is too expensive for digital copies. It should be .99cents like itunes….or I guess the new average price of $1.29.

  54. You’re saying it’s already a flop, based on what? The comments on this site? I’d check into your market research there.

  55. We have no idea what the digital will even cost.  It can’t be called a flop.  Digital should hook more casual readers/fans/entirely new readers.  New readers arent wandering into comic shops.  If a shop sucks, anything new would hurt its business; digital, online shopping for print or a different shop.  The shops will see consolidation, and need to improve their customer service and overall shopping experience,and thats good for customers.  But until Marvel tells us how much this one issue will cost after its broken into three purchases, we cant call it a flop.  As for DC, I like to think Johns, Lee and Didio are thinking long and hard about their digital strategy.

  56. @josh: So it’s good that a digital copy of the same comic is MORE EXPENSIVE then the actual physical copy? I fail to see (along many others it seems) how that is a success.

  57. At least with paper comics you can do stuff with it after you’re done reading. Line the bottom of your bird’s cage, paper airplanes, emergency toilet paper, etc. Try wiping your butt with your iPad. I won’t be doing that again!

  58. @TNC – I’m not even sure that pricing has been confirmed.  Regardless, I don’t think the physical copies will be going away any time soon.  They can peacefully coexist.

  59. @NextChamp

    I think it has been said enough times on this very website that most users on this website arent the target users for digital comics. Which is in itself can be called a failure, not including your established audience, but no, its an experiment (albeit a weak one), and the outcome is currently unknown. We don’t have enough data to to predict anything. If you had said that people will pay $1 for song that play ononly one player 10 years ago, people would have told you an idiot to your face. 10 years later, itunes is the biggest digital music store in the world. They have since removed DRM, but that has had no impact on their sales.

  60. I agree with others that DC is allowing Marvel to make all the mistakes before leaping in. The people who run DC are very smart and savy and i doubt they’re ambivalent about digital releases. Everyone knows its the future. Its the details like format,pricing and sales techniques that need to be figured out. 

    it would be great if they could use ePub as the standard. Adobe software has this stuff built in as one of its standards and the rest of the publishing industry is getting on board with it. Cross platform standardization is the key…they need a MP3 type format.  

  61. How many cheaper digital comics do you have to buy before you’ve justified the kidney it costs to buy the friggin’ ipad to begin with?

  62. The cost of the iPad is a relative variable depending on who you are.  It’ll get cheaper too.

  63. @Josh: Yes, but you have to have a specialized piece of technology to read digital comics. The cost of the equipment has to be factored in. At least, that’s the way I see it.

  64. I’ve had 6 iPods. At least. Such is life.

  65. well i think the point that Jupiter is getting at is that being tied to one piece of hardware is limiting. It comes back to the MP3 comparison. That format thrived because it was universal. You should be able to read a digital comic on a $300 Best Buy POS desktop or a $1500 Apple Product. 

  66. @wallythegreenmonster: Eventually you will (most likely). Nothing and no system is perfect right out of the gate.

  67. What I’m getting at, actually, is that regardless of the digital price point right now, digital comics are probably more expensive to read than hard copies (in terms of cash flow at the very least). You can be a hobo with a cup as your only posession and panhandle 3$ and buy a comic book. To read digital comics you must have purchased a computer at least and pay for the internet. Those are financial factors no matter which way you cut it. Digital comics have a lot going for them but in my opinion, price isn’t one of them.

    I’m piping up about it because price seems to be at the crux of the discussion here. And it seems we’re comparing this cover price with that cover price. But I think there’s more to it than that.

    But hey, what do I know? I’m just some guy lol.

  68. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I don’t think anyone’s marketing much of anything to the hobo demographic. 

  69. @Jupiter: Actually that makes a whole lot of sense.

    Cause when your a little kid you always think TV and the internet is free. (At least I did anyways) But then you realize how many bills you need to pay, sometimes you have to re-subscribe to cable/internet provider, and a lot of other factors. Like you said, with hard copies all you have to do is go into a store and pay. LCS’s pay a large amount to order the comics, ship them, and hold them for as long as they can. But they never charge you extra at all. 

  70. @conor–you’re totally right but thats kinda the irony. You’d think the comics industry would have paid more attention to the music industry. They did all the homework and heavy lifting. The parallels are quite similar. 

    @jumping–don’t underestimate the value of public libraries and internet cafe’s–In a large pockets of Asia very few people (comparatively) own their own computers…they go to internet cafe’s and things like that. Also in the U.S., every town has at least a public library or two with free internet access. Digital distribution is the most egalitarian option especially if you’re trying to grow a reader base. If anything, getting access to the internet to read a comic would be MUCH EASIER than buying a printed one in a comic shop. Lastly, in Los Angeles i see lots of guys you could classify as "hobos" using the internet on the free stations at libraries. 

  71. It seems as if a lot of people seem to think that the overall experience of digital entertainment is one where the main benefit is lower cost.  But what are you paying for?  Are you paying for content?  Are you paying for portability? Convenience?  All of these could be considered premiums, and the lack of physical paper is the only drawback, but only IF you want that paper, which I do not.

  72. @Josh: Now that is more the sort of thing that I think digital has going for it.

  73. Arrrggghhh (@Arrrggghhh) says:

    I think the market has to move to digital to survive. Imagine the advantages of digital comics:
    The ease of finding and reading past issues in seconds.
    Sorting comic files by title, character, date or creator.
    The technological possibilities such as motion comics, audio dynamics and 3D imaging.
    The space you’ll no longer need to store all your books.

    On the negative side: It just feels that once the digital market begins to show big numbers, it will be a major, final blow to the retailers. And while I understand comics are usually not the main source of profit in most comic shops – I can’t help feel that these stores will no longer be supported enough to survive. 

    Guess that’s when comic book shops will join the line of other obsolete things like drive-ins, 8-tracks, typewriters and VHS players. (Yea, I know . . . 8-tracks absolutely sucked.) 

  74. @Arrrggghhh

    Exactly. I’m not sure how anyone else sorts their read/unread piles, but if you stop keeping up for a few weeks, it starts to get out of hand. The way I do it currently (albeit as illegal as ripping your own DVD) is I purchase the comics weekly from the comic shop, put them right in a box, and download digital copies to my computer to keep them organized, so I know what I’ve read and what I haven’t (also, to be able to find older issues better/faster than digging through boxes).

    I feel this is a similarly "grey area" in legality to what certain industries have resorted to. For example, a friend of mine is a karaoke DJ, and he buys the CDs, but then rips everything to his laptop hard drive in order to keep the show going smoothly, and not have to switch discs. He told me that occasionally, some of the bigger CD producing companies will check out shows and attempt to call DJs out on their bluff of owning the hard copies, but as long as you own them, they don’t get the law involved.

    I feel that if the comics publishers heard of what I was doing, and then saw my boxes of comics up to and including the current week, they (hopefully) wouldn’t complain. I still feel bad, like I’m doing something illegal though, and wish there was a legal route that would also save me the weekly trip to the comic shop.

  75. @Weeji: Are you possibly assuming most fans read many comics. Some fans read very few titles. Easy to sort.

  76. What a terrible price point. Charging more for digital than print is only going to encourage more folks to read scans.

  77. No one really wants to say it here.

    But digital comics are already a Huge success.

    I’m not talking about any of the publisher’s bumbling around attempts, but I am tlaking about Torrents.

    And yes I read some.

    4 dollar comcis?  or comcis I want the shop doesn’t have yes- I supplement my list sometimes with them bc reading comics isn’t actuallly my job.

    That being said an agnostic reader like Comicbook Dipslay is trulyt near perfect and it can exist on multiple platforms.

    If marvel was serious about really producing digital comics they would sell subscriptions to the service period then you could download a certain number of comics based on your license with different pacakages allowing larger and larger access.  INdividual title succcess could still be tracked.  And people could still have the freedom they are going to demand to make this work- The days of any entertainment comapny dictating distribution methods are Over.

    People keep mention ing the music business here- Connor you too- in several episodes you and Ron have talked about everything Will be digitial look at the music industry,.

    Well the one lesson there is not whethr you prefer print in your hands or pixels bc the music  model never had a physical component  but that The electronic public has the power now to determine how they recieve their goods.

  78. Arrrggghhh (@Arrrggghhh) says:

    @ericmci: You are absolutely correct. The comic industry is following the music & movie industry. If Marvel & DC are holding back from fully going digital because of their concerns for piracy – it’s already too late. The Comics market is far beyond the band wagon jumping point. Their current status is like the music industry refusing to sell MP3s — issuing only audio CDs.

    When MP3 files were first being released, around the mid-90’s – the music industry was up in arms about it.  They cried, "It will destroy our business!" and they spent millions in legal battles to try and make the technology illegal. Sites like Napster thrived – new gadgetry like the Diamond Rio and eventually the iPod started becoming more and more popular. And though the music industry won a few battles (like Napster) – they lose in the end. But the funny thing is, they never really lost.  The music industry always increased its sales year after year. 
    Comics, if provided at a fair price for digital issues – could also thrive the same way.

    I don’t think anyone will argue that the price for printed comics is hitting a value-to-price ceiling point. As a designer myself, I order well over $120-$150 books per month and I generally do so out of love and support for the industry. Of that stack, I only have time to read about 40% – but I still buy the remaining 60% because I care about the writers/artists/characters.
    But now, I suddenly find I’m hitting a point where I no longer want to invest buying $5+ comics.  It’s just too much to me, because basically, $5 is the value of a magazine in my mind — not a comic book. And as I start removing titles from my pull list each month, I find i may reach a point where buying the printed books is no longer worth my money or time.

    Plus, just the freedom of publishing online without any overhead costs of printing and distributing has got to be a tremendous savings to the major comic companies. To new creators – that has to be appealing — to easily be able to create your own published work. (Of course the challenge there is getting seen and heard.)

    With that all said: Does anyone know if Marvel has had any major success with their Digital Comics line?

  79. @ericmci


    I said that…A WEEK AGO!

  80. @josh

    Well no. People have always paid for packaging. The hardcover of Lock & Key has the same content as the paperback, yet one is more expensive. Ther is also ‘value’in physical copies; the first sale doctrine dictates your right to sell anything you own. So digital media should be cheaper, because it lacks any sort of monetary value.


    As for your other points, well I don’t think digital comics, at least the legal ones, can be considered convenient or portable.

  81. @ericmci: In these discussions we’re not talking about torrents because that’s not digital comics distributed by comic book companies. That’s criminal activity.

    @muddi900: They are convienent. And portable. I’ve got a bunch on my iPad right now.

  82. @Conor: We can ostrich all we want. Torrents are part of this subject.

  83. @JumpingJupiter: No one is pretending it doesn’t exist. It’s just not digital comics as we are discussing here.

  84. i agree with @mudd–there is something to be said for the implied value of tangible goods versus digital. I dunno if its generational or because we’re all part of a transitional generation, but at this point, if you can hold it it has greater value. Logical or not, its hard to change centuries of purchasing habits overnight.Its going to be tough to price a digital product the same as or anywhere close to a printed one. At least for the immediate future, and thats where Marvel appears to be blowing it. 

    A printed comic will last A LOT longer in your collection than a digital one. As someone who’s had a half dozen fatal hard drive crashes on his computers and back up drives. nothing digital will last forever (or much longer than a decade). I happen to be a believer in ephemera and the biggest problem with digital releases is that they basically leave nothing behind for future generations. Yes yes there are reprints, but as a researcher I learned a lot about America from looking at ads from WWII era comics than i’d ever realized.  

  85. @Wally: I like how you put that. My personal feeling is that nothing is wrong with one or the other inherently. My concern is simply that my preference (hard copy) will become obsolete because it isn’t new.

  86. @JumpingJupiter: Papers comics aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. All we’re talking about it opening up a new distribution system. There are still CDs. There are still even vinyl records.

  87. Oh I get that.

  88. @muddi900:

    Portability in terms of software means the ability to work over different platforms. For example, Websites, like, are the most portable piece of code you can run anywhere you want.  Legal digital comics are so unportable, they cant even run on different apps on the same platform.

    I also would like to point out that people buying music from itunes now were downloading it from kazaa/limewire/napster before it. In the three years since itunes went DRM free and Amazon music started, music piracy growth has remained constant, but digital sales have gone up. Studies show that rampant music pirates are also more likely spend more money on music, and related merchandise, than regular people.

    Comic pirates are not criminals. They are a market who’s needs are not, but can be, satiated legally. And to complete this in a full circle, the end product is far more convenient, portable and higher quality than the legal option.

    Google around "Old man logan Widescreen edition", and please point me to a single legal alternative that is half as well done. I will gladly pay a dollar more than the print copy for something like this, since this version is far superior. It can’t be done anywhere else.  


  89. I award muddi the COW award (comment of the week).

  90. @muddi900: Comic pirates are taking something without paying for it. They are criminals.

  91. @Conor: I agree with your semantics but I still think Muddi makes an interesting point.


    Boom! This is only a ‘slight’ experiement and the Digital comic IS more expensive then the paper copy.

  93. Kurt Busiek and Augie DeBlieck are discussing the price point on Twitter right now. I think Busiek makes an interesting point. The Iron Man Annual is 60 pages. Thus, it’s equal to three comics. They are each priced at $1.99 on the app — the STANDARD price point for digital comics. So you ARE getting the standard digital price ($1.99) for the appropriate number of pages. The way to look at it here is that the $4.99 print edition is bargain-priced. And honestly, I think Marvel is smart to do that, as a way of showing retailers that they’re still important to them.  I agree with this move.

  94. Jesus, this is a bone head move on Marvel’s part. It’s almost like they are intentionally setting this experiment up to fail.

    As long as Marvel and DC stay slavishly devoted to the comic book store the industry will continue to shrink.

  95. @conor: Again I think DC is waiting for Marvel to eithe:

    A) Fail so they get a chance (which after this ‘experiment’ it probably will)

    B) Wait until Marvel gets it somewhat right and then release something even better then what Marvel is offering.

    You honestly think a team of Johns, Lee, and Didio is not thinking about digital comics? 

  96. @connor:

    If you were not interested in a discussion, sir, you should have said so. I wouldn’t have wasted my time.

  97. @Conr: I like your passion and enthusiasm. 🙂

    (the internet needs a sincerity emoticon because I meant that)

  98. @muddi900: You must be joking. We’ve had this discussion ad nauseum. There is no discussion about whether or not theft is theft. You take something without paying for it, it’s a crime. And it’s 100x worse in an industry with little to no margins and where most indie creators don’t see a dime from their books.

  99. @conor Preach!

    Whether you think it’s ok to download a scan or not to "try before you buy" and while I think it’s not all black and white, anyone who thinks it’s not piracy and not shady is deluding themselves. People should at least own up to what they’re doing.

  100. I’m not so sure it’s a boneheaded move. I’m not sure it’s a smart move, either, mind you. It’s just… look, Marvel and DC cannot afford to ignore the direct market. They need to take it into account at this point.

    They also have to look at this from a NON-weekly-LCS-reader perspective. In that regard, the Iron Man Annual is a non-issue. We KNOW the price point is $1.99 for an issue. If people bite on that, then the IM Annual will turn away NONE of these readers. Because they’re getting three issues at $1.99 each — which is the standard. They’re likely NOT going to know that they could get it for a dollar cheaper at a store because they’re not GOING to a store. Yet. and when they do, it’ll be to buy recent issues or to buy recent trades, based on what they like in the app. 

    So, I get the reasoning, and I think it’s an interesting move. I think it’ll change drastically in the next few years, but I kinda think this is not a straight-up bonehead move at this point. 

  101. @conor–i complete agree that it seems like they are trying to make it fail. Marvel basically asked their retailers for permission to price the digital annual higher than the print version. lame. Do they really believe that comic readers will just drop printed comics in droves to buy a digital version? If anything print comics would still thrive where the CD didn’t because of the collector mindset of the comic fan…the cult of the longbox as it were. They’ll keep the hardcore print fans, and gain new fans through digital if the price is right. They may even get double and triple dipping. 

    Its not the publishers responsibility to figure out a way for small comic shops to stay in business. It just sounds like Marvel doesn’t understand their customer base at all.I don’t understand why these publishers are so enslaved to small independent shops to dictate the entire direction of their companies. They’re acting like its Wallmart or Bestbuy or Target buying millions of units a month telling them what they want.

  102. @connor:

    No, illegal downloading has never been theft. It can be interpreted as larceny, but nobody has ever brought it up in court anywhere in the world. Its copyright infringement. It is no different than watching unauthorized music videos on youtube, from a legal standpoint. And even then, the argument goes out the window when you consider somebody living in Borneo or Cambodia or any place where nobody is distributing or importing comics, a place similar to one where I live. So no, ‘theft’ and ‘crime’ being legal terms, your argument is weak. 

    I assume what you meant by "crime" was "an unethical act", which I agree with. But the fact is unless they actually allow me, and thousands like me, to buy these comics, I have no issue crossing that ethical boundary. You also seem to forget where this demand for digital media stems for. Ther is no itunes without Napster. No Netflix without the Pirate Bay

  103. @wally — They’re targeting different readers. They’re assuming if you pick up comics at a shop on a weekly basis, then you’re going to get the $4.99 version. the online version is just a standard price for 30 pages on online comic. It’s a standalone story, so it’s a good one to test out for a new audience. So to answer your question: no, they’re not expecting readers to jump to digital. If they expected that, they would have made the print version more expensive.

    The problem isn’t that it’s the publishers’ responsibility to keep the retailers afloat, it’s that it’s a delicate ecosystem, and right now the stores DO keep the publishers afloat! You have to GROW your consumer base, not alienate one in at attempt to switch to a larger one. That’s just not good business. Not in this market.

    Conor is right that they can’t remain slavish devoted to the direct market forever. But you can’t just ignore it and jump into a new distribution system, especially one that’s still finding its way. The iPad is brand new… there are a whole slew of digital reader software systems still in or just coming out of beta (including Graphicly) — there are still WAY too many variables. 

    Marvel and DC DO need to show authoritative leadership. They should be leading the way (and it doesn’t seem they are) and looking aggressively to grow into this new market, but they have to take into account the ecosystem in which they currently thrive.

  104. @muddi900: I’m going to disagree with you, then. It’s a crime in my book.And taking digital copies off of the internet is completely different than watching videos on YouTube. If you went to a website and read the comics that would be the same. But if you’re downloading copies onto your computer you’re duplicating someone’s work without paying for it and that’s theft.

    This is completely off topic and why I didn’t bring up illegal downloadng in the first place. Back to Marvel and legal digital comics. All subsequent comments on the subject of illegal downloading will be removed.

  105. @daccampo: Offering a real digital distribution system that actually acknowledges that it’s 2010 and not 1990 is not abandoning the direct market. Offering more choice is not abandoning the direct market. Realizing that there is an underserved market of current readers is not abandoning the direct market.

    Look, comic book stores aren’t going anywhere. If Marvel announced tomorrow that they were offering day and date books for $0.99 it’s not like the comic book stores would stop ordering Marvel books. They beat their chests and make a lot of noise when digital comics are talked about, but at the end of the day the stores need Marvel more than Marvel needs the stores.

    Marvel is the only real 800 lbs gorilla in the comics industry and they have a real chance to effect change in the industry, but they just ran away from the tiny mouse that came into the room.

  106. @conor — I’m definitely not suggesting that they shouldn’t offer both. I was more reacting to this idea that they are strongly favoring the DM to their detriment. I think you and i agree — offer both as you grow and move into a stronger day and date digital distribution. But I don’t think charging a dollar more for digital is really running away. I see it as a political move. I do think they’re looking for lapsed and new readers who bought an iPad and are looking for content. They’ve seen the Iron Man movie, and they want to see what’s up with comics. They’re not hiking the price up HIGHER than the standard that they’ve set. And you yourself have noted that $1.99 is NOT obscene for 30 pages of comics, right? You said you’d buy comics like that. If you ignore the print edition all together, if you were just told that this was a digital-only, 3-part Iron Man mini-series, priced at $1.99 per issue, you’d have no qualms about it, right? So, it seems to me that the only issue comes when you COMPARE it to the print edition. And I don’t think that’s necessarily fair because Marvel isn’t yet aiming to move their current readership to digital — they’re looking to see what kind of reaction they get from people who aren’t weekly LCS shoppers.

    I do agree that they need to show strong leadership. I think this is just a toe-dipping exercise, and I think we only disagree on some of the merits of the execution. 😉 

  107. @daccampo: Where you and I disagree is that I see this as running scared from the retailers. Not just in the pricing (not in the $1.99 but in the fact that they decreased the price of the paper issue) but also in the comments Joe Quesada has made (in the link above in the comments). Everything seems designed to keep the stores happy and to keep them from worrying about scary digital comics.

  108. @conor – Right, I agree about where we disagree. 😉 Like I said, I don’t see this as a particularly bold move, but I also don’t see it as a "scared" move. It’s just one step in a chain. I think you need to show that you’re going to continue to work with the retailers. I think they DO still need retailers at this point and there’s no real advantage to just sorta shrugging them off. Offering a bargain price annual isn’t some giant concession — it’s just a little move; I dont’ see it as a big deal, personally.

    As I said, I think this digital launch is a STEP, and as they test the waters, I think you’re going to see more. I wouldn’t be surprised if Iron Man and maybe a couple other titles see a regular, ongoing day/date release within a year.

    So, ultimately, I think what I’m saying is that I still see progress, and I think it will continue. Marvel could fuck it up and prove me wrong. We’ll see. But I don’t think THIS is the fuck-up moment. 😉

  109. @conor & daccampo–i just find it slightly ironic that comic books are/were known as being one of the most progressive, youthful publishing mediums, but now are acting like the old man in the room kicking and screaming about that silly interwebs fad and digital distribution. Every other book publisher has embraced digital distribution on some level. How hard would it be for a comic publisher to partner up with Amazon and have their own digital store? Every comic thats been published in the last 15 years already exists in digital form, conversion isn’t that hard. 

    Conor is right. It seems to be an attitude problem with the comic publishers, who are unwilling to adapt to the 21st century. As another poster said a dozen or so comments up, it just might be an indie publisher or creator who’s going to start the digital comic revolution, not a giant corporate media conglomerate.  

  110. @wally – It’s not just comics, though. We are here talking about comics because we love the industry, and because this site tends to report on the business of comics. But the fact is that regular publishers HAVE been dealing with similar things. For example, there was the recent flap about MacMillan books wanting to jack the prices of their eBooks to help prop up their sagging brick-and-mortar distribution. 

    As for your question about partnering with Amazon; I don’t think it’s quite that simple. You have to take the DEVICE into account. The Kindle is highly limiting, as it’s black and white. The iPad is the obvious device but that JUST came out, and there’s the point that traditional comics are sized slightly differently than the iPad; so it’s always as simple as just scanning pages into a PDF or whatever. That’s why you’ve got folks like Graphicly and Longbox and Comixology who are building out whole "comics reading" systems to go across  different platforms and devices. So do they use Amazon, and then the Kindle app for iPad? Can Amazon’s kindle app software even do color? Could it handle the necessary captions and dialogue balloons and make them legible in iPad reading dimensions? If not… Do they work directly with Apple, as Marvel is now with their app? Or, do they go through Apple FROM platforms like Graphicly? How many of comics’ current readership ALSO have an iPad? How many non-regular-LCS-shoppers are iPad users that might be interested in comics content — on a serious, serialized basis, not just a "let’s check this out" lark? Those are all questions that the publishers have GOT to be thinking about.

    I don’t mind Marvel making small steps right now and keeping retailers in mind because, in my mind, the digital distribution, the reading software, and the reading hardware are all very new and still evolving.That said, they need to continually progress and embrace digital because it is a great potential market and honestly it’s the future. And look, I personally WANT day/date digital releases and I WANT to move to digital sooner rather than later. But if I were a publisher who still largely relied on the direct market (even with all its flaws) for my livelihood? I’d definitely be thinking about that as well.

  111. @daccampo–you raise good points. i wasn’t really speaking to device specific apps and formats because i think that is a fatal mistake. iPads or whatever will be niche products for a long time. Laptop and desktop computers are common enough, so that should be the target user and i think a nice market of computer comic readers is there waiting to buy. 

    Why must the format be so complex? i guess my overly simplistic solution is…sell a bare bones, story only, pdf of a comic for a buck or two. Just about every computer sold has the ability to open a PDF and software is free and established. Comic reading software recognizes it (i’ve only used comicbooklover on my mac)Now if they’re holding out for a DRM-able comic solution then thats something else. In my mind the PDF is the MP3 of printed media.

    I honestly think if Marvel or DC went to Amazon and said "we want to sell our entire catalog on your site on a weekly basis…make us a storefront" Amazon would do it even if it wasn’t kindle friendly. OR the big two could just tap into the vast media empires they belong to and create their own storefronts. 

    I’m actually curious if digital manga exists? I don’t read it but it seems that media would be really successful in digital form.  

    I read enough comments from people on this site about how their LCS doesn’t carry A LOT of smaller titles…seems digital would be an incredibly brilliant solution to get product into the hands of anyone who wants it…it just seems so odd that the publishers are resisting a golden opportunity to grow their reader base.

  112. @wally — My feeling is that the success of digital comics depends largely upon the e-reader, just as the mp3 audio format really blossomed once the mp3 player became readily available. Maybe even moreso for comics because I think the sooner you get something that FEELS like an approximation of the comics reading experience, the sooner you’ll get people to accept reading on a screen.

    I agree that it may be a scrappy independent who is getting short-shrift from Diamond who makes the boldest move into the digital market. I’ve been very vocal in promoting a specific independent comic that was developed specifically for the iPhone (Box 13 — free on ComiXology). In this case, Box 13 was designed for the phone and works perfectly with the app. It’s short and serialized. It’s also free, but if they offered it weekly for $0.99, I would totally buy it. Because they took into account the device and they worked with a reading software, constructing a product that worked well with both hardware and software. 

    The only thing I’ve really been trying to counter here is this idea that publishers are "resisting a golden opportunity." I think Marvel, in this specific case, is tentatively moving toward that opportunity. They have the iPad app, and within the first few months, they’ve already announced a day/date digital release that is APPROPRIATELY priced based on the standards they created. That’s only a few months into the iPad. I expect to see them continue to develop and push forward. If they don’t, I’ll be as disappointed as any of you. But I like to give Marvel a little credit for what I see as a small but progressive effort. It’s certainly more than DC’s done, at any rate. 😉