The Digital Age: Better Late Than Never

Ultimate Fallout #1I’ve had the strangest feeling for the last month or so. Anybody else? Has anybody else felt like a golden age, an age you’d spent so much time waiting for that you’d all but given up on it, recently noticed what time it was and said, “Oh, whoops. Guess I’d better go ahead and dawn, already”?

At the very least, we are tantalizingly close to the cusp of the edge of the precipice of an era I have been pining for since the autumn of 2000. I’ve discussed my 2000 reintroduction to comics a few times before on this site, but a chapter of that story has always been omitted. I’ve mentioned that I saw Bryan Singer’s X-Men that year, after having stayed out of comics shops for roughly a decade, and that I went to my parents’ house later that week and retrieved my longboxes so I could reread all the stories that made me buy that movie ticket in the first place. What I never talk about is that, when I reached the last issue in the box, I said, “I wonder what happened next. I wish I had the first clue how to get my hands on those issues.”

Then I looked over at the file sharing program on my desktop– LimeWire or BearShare or Kazaam or DonkeyShow or whatever the #%$@ it was then– and thought, “Hey…! You don’t suppose people are uploading comics these days, do you?”

They totally were doing that.

Using this nefarious method for a couple of weeks, I downloaded enough 1990-1992 issues of Uncanny X-Men to learn 1) I missed comics 2) reading comics on your computer is delightful 3) I got out of comics at exactly the right time 4) there was probably something wrong with the way I was getting all these comics.

Please view my impetuous piracy through the prism of history, gentle reader: there was not even an iTunes at this point, and to the 25-year-old Jim who could remember not having a VCR the notion of Things You Wanted just appearing in your house after only a few dozen hours of your modem tying up the phone line seemed mind-blowing on the level of robot maids and suitcase cars. I went back and bought all those issues (and then some) and repented for my misdeeds years ago; I quickly discovered there were still comics shops and started going to them and leaving entire paychecks inside them. But I never stopped loving those digital comics, and I’ve chosen to read on my screen or laptop or “device” whenever I could ever since.

“Whenever I could” was not very often for a long, long, long long time. 2000, you may recall, was eleven years ago. That’s roughly how long we could have been downloading our comics. In the meantime, all of us have suffered some unnecessary indignities. It’s been five years since I got into the habit of getting to my comic shop three to six minutes after it opened because of the day I got there at 11:15 to find all the Civil War tie-ins I wanted were sold out. It’s been four years since I called around town asking, “Do you have the new Scott Pilgrim?” only to have my nearest shop’s manager reply, “What book does he write?” It’s been three years since I tried having my comics delivered, only for someone to brazenly walk up and steal the boxes off of my porch.

(Here’s some comment bait, by the way: “Dude, you’ve got to pre-order” is an insane way to run an industry and I refuse to reward it. You cannot keep looking at me and saying, “All you have to do is decide today what you’ll want in three months” with a straight face like it’s a serious solution to any problem I have. I will not participate in humoring this madness. “That kind of thinking will kill the little guy.” Maybe that little guy deserves to die, and be replaced by one who knows it’s 2011 and puts the books in my house while I sleep. But I suspect we can talk about that more below. Where was I…?)

These days, I have a marvelous shop run by an amazing retailer, but I still miss books because the Diamond warehouse routinely screws him over. Easily six times this summer, I didn’t get something I came for because they double-shipped him JSA instead of the Venom he ordered or sent him t-shirts instead of Thunderbolts. There I would be, in the door three minutes after it had been unlocked, and still I ended up on a waiting list or trying another store on the way home. Meanwhile, my iPad sat at home, clearing its throat and trying to look busy.

Then, last week, I had a breakthrough. Diamond forgot to send my shop Catwoman, which I wanted to read. (Ah, hindsight.) I saw this, and the voice in charge of my brain started to say, “Initiating exasperation sequence in 5… 4….” when I realized, “Hang on. There is nothing annoying about this. This is actually completely fine. I shall return to my home, press a button, and this problem will simply cease to exist.”

Then I realized this had been happening a lot lately. I accidentally bought the wrong book and didn’t pick up Ultimate Fallout #1, my most anticipated book of the week? No problem; I’ll get it online! I didn’t buy a couple DC relaunches that turned out to be people’s Picks of the Week? No problem; I’ll get them online! Joe Hill ended the last Locke & Key hardcover with the kind of cliffhanger that borders on reader cruelty? Hey, whaddya know, I can catch up online!

So many of the little inconveniences and irritations have started melting away, just in the last three to six weeks. Every time I had to find a parking meter to buy World War Hulk or dig my car out of the snow for New Avengers or wait at a train crossing to get to a shop right on the other side, I would imagine what it would be like if the comics I read were online, and now that they are, it is exactly like I imagined it would be, except for the part where I didn’t envision the “smart panels” that make them more enjoyable to read. How often does life hand you a victory like this?

I don’t wish any harm to paper comics or the shops that sell them. I look forward to continuing to hit my favorite shop every week; they consistently turn me on to things I’d never have heard about otherwise and provide the kind of personal service that’s irreplaceable. On those days when it’s 11:00 p.m. before I realize I forgot something, though, it’s nice to know we finally live in an age where I can easily get it without having to send my robot maid for it in the morning.

Jim Mroczkowski could give a damn about flying cars, as long as they start carrying Hulk on the Marvel app. Downloading comics is one of the only things that can make him close Twitter.


  1. When is Marvel going same day and date release? Once that happens across all titles I’ll be a happy toad.

  2. I’m going entirely digital comics now.

    I started thinking this way earlier this year when our second child was born. The addition of another person in the house made the burden on space more pressing. The idea of having a lot of comic available to me digitally instead of taking up a ton of space had tremendous appeal to me.

    DC going digital has reinforced my belief that this is the best way for me to get my books. That combined with the fact that I’m moving across town which will make it inconvenient to go to my favorite comic book store has caused me to decide now is the right time to make the switch.

    We’ll see how it goes. There are still some books that I love that aren’t day and date digital. But they will get there eventually and if I really miss them, I can find a way to get them.

    So like you, I feel that the digital age has finally come and I’m ecstatic.

  3. I’m not into digital comics. I guess I’m still old fashioned (be 50 in less than 2 years) . I still like comics you can hold and physically flip pages. If you do like digital stuff, God bless…..not ready yet.

    • Right there with you. All the people i know that read comics read them digitally but every time i try it i can’t get into it. I’m more than happy with paper copies.

  4. Since the 52 relaunch, I’ve picked up 12 issues digitally, which is more single issues than i’ve bought all year (and 0% of those physical copies were DC – unless you count Vertigo). it’s converting me from a trade-moocher to an issue-buyer single handedly, without all that pesky physical media to take up space.

  5. I could be mistaken, but I think 3 of the biggest comic uploaders/pirates, have retired now that digital comics are available any other way.

  6. If I gave two turds about digital comics I would be excited. I don’t so……………..

    • Ditto

    • Thanks for taking the time!

    • LOL @Jim. I didn’t mean it was a bad article. Just to clarify. 🙂

    • nothing personal, but I’m kinda sick of this dismissive attitude. LIsten, if you want to only read print comics thats wonderful. More power to you, support your shops, continue enjoying long boxes and bags and boards and all that…and i mean it sincerely. But there seems to be this Print vs Digital, us versus them mentality where one thinks the other should not exist and thats just short sighted.

      As a print reader you should root for digital comics. Its a big fancy new shop that just opened in your town that will reach new customers and keep others reading comics. You don’t have to shop there, but you should be glad its around for those that do. Its good for the industry as a whole. Its good for creators cause they will sell more and stay employed, its good for your favorite books cause they won’t get cancelled as fast, so its good for print only readers.

      The industry needs all the positives and growth right now it can find.

      *steps off soap box.

  7. The DC relaunch has gotten me back into buying comics through the digital program. It’s too bad that Marvel hasn’t gotten close to putting out recent issues on other platforms besides iOS. Yes, I have an Android phone and tablet, and disposable income I’m willing to trade for new stories about mutants. Why will no one take me up on this offer?

    • I’ve been there. If what DC’s doing proves to be a success, though, I suspect I won’t be there for much longer. No one’s better than the comics biz at copying other people’s success.

  8. I’ve gone 100% digital. The current drawback to that is obviously the lack of Day and Date. Being a Ultimate U reader, this has been resolved. Being an even more DC reader, THAT has also been resolved. All that’s left is 616 titles and I’ll be officially transitioned. X-Men and Spidey is onboard so that’s good. I give it 12-18 months before Marvel finally does it ince it’s gonna be the only way to compete with DC n the digital market.

  9. I’m glad you digital comics guys are getting your day in the sun. Any comics is good comics, and good for the industry as a whole. Good shops will survive. It just isn’t for me though. I’ve torrented a few long out of print things in the past, or when I was too lazy to dig them out of my boxes (Just argued against myself there.), but I don’t make a habit of it. Reading comics on my monitor drive me nuts, even though they are HUGE! I should love it, but I don’t.

    • I feel the same way. Digital doesn’t provide me near the same experience as a print book and I’ve tried every digital method available.

    • While I did joke with my girlfriend after buying my “monitor” which is just a 40″ HDTV, that I wanted to buy another to mount turned 90 degrees to read comics on, I just can’t get into it. What I was too lazy to dig for recently was Infinity Gauntlet. It’s easier for me to read the text in my old ass print copies than on this TV. It’s plenty bright, crisp, and clear. My video games and web browsing look great, but I just can’t read comics on it for shit. That said, I did download Batman #1 just to give it a read since my shop sold out (Bought a copy online though!), and it was fine to read, I just don’t care for the experience. Could be bad scans with the older stuff.

    • I know this probably isn’t your entire problem with the digital medium, but I do think that the resolution on an HDTV is a little lower than the res on an HD Monitor. Might be wrong, but maybe thats why its harder to read on your 40″.

    • Is it because you are trying to read things across a room on a 40″ monitor which is stressful on your eyes?

  10. Meh. I’m not a digital fan. I guess at 35 I’m stuck in the old school. I will admit I like the vibrance of digital print, but since I don’t have an iPad or tablet I would be stuck reading at my desk in my office at home…as opposed to the multitude of places I read now… That can be remedied, but still…I like “having” something.

    Quick Question: Shouldn’t digital comics be CHEAPER than print comics? I know some go on sale after the first month, but still…for $2.99 I’d rather HAVE something to hold. Now make that same comic on the same day digitally for $1.99, and I may consider it.

    • Doubt you’ll really see them cheaper unless on sale. A couple of reasons:
      – digital comics don’t have advertising (at least the ones I’ve been reading)
      – Marvel / DC are trying to grow profit margins.

      Smaller and independent publishers may compete with lower prices.

  11. I’ve never talked to anyone who actually has access to an iPad or similar tablet who didn’t like reading comics on it.

    • I’ve read them on iPad. I don’t think it’s a matter of like. I don’t just dislike reading them on iPad. But it’s also not something that blows me away. It’s certainly not something that replicates my personal experience with a print book.

    • I think it’s just a matter of preference. I read the first issue of Batman and Robin on my friend’s iPad, and I enjoyed it as a reading experience, I just prefer physical copies, but neither is inherently better than the other.

    • i don’t understand why so many fetishize the experience of reading a printed comic. Its some of the worst printing and paper quality in commercial printing. Saddlestiched staples in Grade 1 junk mail paper is not something i’m going to miss. Turning pages is fun, but is it really that amazing or just a habitual thing?

      So much of comics revolves around weekly routine, habit, collecting/hoarding…almost ritual and for some quasi religious.
      I wonder how much that plays into the hesitation?

    • @Wally. I think the printing quality is fantastic. Of course I’ve been reading comics for nearly 30 years so I easily remember what they did look like. But I have the same opinion of digital. They simply feel like cheap scans with fancy transitions. Sure they are bright and shiny but they never relay to me the feeling of art.

      You have a rather harsh view of collectors as many do these days. But I guess I’d be the same if talking about the fast-food, quick fix digital crowd. But just because you don’t collect, like print books, etc doesn’t mean that those who do are simply slaves of habit or do so because of some quasi religious attraction. Guess, what….I enjoy print books. I really do. And there are more like my who aren’t as cultish as you might think.

    • @keith7198: Print quality these days is wildly inconsistent. Marvel in particular has had a problem with overly dark and muddy print quality for a while now.

    • Keith…well i do a lot with printing and design…i literally have 3 bookshelves full of paper/printing samples in the room next to my office, so i have opinions. =) I feel like the print vs digital comics crowd is like a Bloods vs Cripps kinda thing when it doesn’t need to be. I actually prefer the imperfections and “soul” of old newsprint printed comics over the digital perfection of current ones but thats another conversation.

      I really don’t have have anything bad about collecting…i do collect stuff myself… table books, fine printing and letterpress…..I love print. Just not so much in floppy comics because i know what they are made of and how they are made i guess.

      Whatever makes you happy go for it. Its easy to get caught up in blanket statements, so i guess it can be taken that way. Didn’t mean anything bad by it. You have to admit the ritualistic tendencies of Wednesdays and comics, pull lists, pre-orders…even monthly books. Its really a fascinating sociological thing don’t you think? I won’t take credit for insinuating there is a fine line between collecting and obsession…even hoarding. People with fancy PHD’s came up with that one.

    • The speed at which they produce and print comics is impressive, but it leaves little room for quality control and press check nitpicks. As one of my print reps always says, “you can have that job good, cheap, or fast…but you only get to pick one”

    • It may be that you guys have higher standards in regards to print quality or just a sharper eye but I can’t come up with an example of a book that really annoyed me by poor print quality. But that’s just me.

      As for the ritualistic tendencies, of course in some cases. That can always be said about almost anything like this. But I do pull lists and hit the shop every week not out of some deep inner compulsion.. I genuinely love Wednesday’s and new books hitting the shelves. I love handing books down to my son (on the rare occasion that one is appropriate for him). Well, you get what I’m saying. It’s ALL a matter of preference.

    • I know people who bought iPads to read comics.

  12. In the past 3 or 4 months, I’ve slowly converted to digital and have probably just recently gotten to the point where over 50% of my purchases are now digital.

  13. It’s nice to see I’m not alone. A few years ago the idea of digital would have fallen on deaf ears, but slowly I’m coming around to the idea.

    Two years ago my girlfriend and I were looking to buy a house, and finding a place for eight long boxes was difficult. I slowly came to hate those bloody things. Then when I couldn’t find Frankenstien Agent of Shade in any of the LCS near me, I decided to check out digitally.

    Now, most of my DC comics are digital, and I’m tempted to only check out Marvel titles that are the same (so mostly Spider-man and X-men). I think the only things I get printed now are Batwoman and Daredevil. Can’t argue with the art.

    I’m slowly saving up for a tablet so I can enjoy them on a bigger screen. When do the robots and flying cars arrive?

  14. I think the trend towards tablet computing has pushed comics into the almost-present. Like Josh says, if you have one, and you like comics, there’s a good chance you’re enjoying the digital revolution. I tried reading comics on the computer, desktop or laptop, I didn’t enjoy it. On the iPad, it’s a whole different story. First I switched to mostly trades for thrift and readability, then I cut down on trades as I started getting more and more content digitally. I wasn’t able to get my trades digitally, but there was so much other content available that I let my comic-buying habits slide. Now I’m finally getting to the point where rejoining the comic-buying world makes sense.
    I still have reservations. Digital is still, in many cases, more expensive then buying trades. I’ve yet to pay cover price for a digital issue, but I have been picking up some sale items. And while I understand that there’s a large market for people who read their floppies once and pitch them, I always buy with the idea that I will probably be rereading these down the road, so the current model of app-based, DRMed, distributor-controlled content still bothers me. That said, I was hardly buying any print, so the fact that I have succumbed to some titles means that digital is doing it’s job of bringing in customers. I may not be a “new” customer, but I haven’t been a current customer for a while now.
    So bring on the digital. Day and date all around will be good, but I’m really hoping as the industry matures we get a more open, file-based system so that I can keep all my comics in one place, like I do with my music and me ebooks. I never have to ask myself “which label released that last music track I bought?” I just pull up the music program and go. Comics should be that simple.

  15. i would like to echo on this topic.i last bought comics in 1995,the trade for iron man armor wars back in my home country philippines.after that,i went to college and went to work now here in qatar and i thought,id like to get back to comics to pass the time.but there aint no comic shop here so i turned to scanned copies from peer to peer sharing websites.i enjoyed reading those comics but after a year or so,i realized that im gettin these books the wrong way so through ifanboy,newsarama and other websites,i found dcbs.i ordered trades of those i downloaded and spent a ton for shipping.then came the digital copies which i think are a great way to get my books without those shipping costs.although id love to physically hold those books,the convenience of reading those books the same day you guys read them has been a delight.with that said,goin digital is the next logical step.and im glad somebody thinks so too..just thinking aloud.great read,jim.thanks

  16. After a little hemming and hawing, I finally decided to buy all my DC comics digitally. The biggest obstacle for me was the price. I buy most of my paper single issues from DCBS, which typically has a 40% discount on DC titles, knocking the price down to $1.80 an issue, and then I trade a majority of my single issues in to mycomicshop for credit, at about $1.20 an issue. So theoretically, my DC single issues were costing me about $0.60 each. But with digital, I can get my books as soon as they’re out instead of waiting on UPS, I won’t ever get stuck with multiple issues of comics I’d pre-ordered only to discover they weren’t my thing, and I won’t be mucking around with packing up boxes of old paper every month to ship back for trade credit.

    I’d like to do the same with Marvel as they’re getting better about same day digital releases, but there are two massive obstacles there. 1, $3.99 for a digital comic is borderline offensive to me. It’s over my arbitrary line of unreasonableness. If you can’t find a way to sell digital content to me for under $3 while making a profit, that’s something you need to fix. 2, unlike DC, Marvel isn’t doing any kind of time-based price reduction. I’m mildly interested in Hickman’s Ultimate Thor. Single issues of that are *still* listed at $3.99. That’s just crazy. I appreciate the regular $0.99 sales Marvel is putting on, and I hope those sales are demonstrating to Marvel that the volume makes up for the lower prices.

    The one thing I would most love to see from digital comics is some sort of overarching subscription plan. $20/mo. to download each month’s DC titles, $100/year to download every X-Men comic release that year, something like that.

    • I’m also waiting for the subscription model, and for Marvel to incorporate the MDCU into their iPhone app – or actually release an Android app.

  17. I love digital comics and am so glad to see them FINALLY getting their act together. I don’t have anything against paper comics and there are a few titles I still want paper because I actually enjoy owning the comics in a collection, but for the most part…..these comics are just junking up my life after I read them. Given the choice between taking the comics to goodwill just to get them out of the house and keeping them digitally in the cloud, I’d prefer the latter.

  18. I’m moving towards all digital in large part because my local retailers want me to. I don’t want to pre-order..i don’t agree with the system, and am just not the kind of person to buy things 3 months in advance…especially something like comics. I depend on reviews and sites like this to inform me on whats coming out and whats worth getting. These local shops order less and less for their shelves and unless i get there at 10:01am on Wednesday (i have a job, i can’t) then i miss out on the two copies they bought for the shop. Those shops have become catalog ordering pickup depots and thats just not for me. I will get to the shop to get a few Marvel and other things (if they are still around) but i’m pretty close to just skipping on stuff i can’t get digitally. I know i’ll miss out, but the hassle is starting to outweigh my enjoyment of the books. I’ll still buy a print collection if i really love the story.

    I used to hate the idea of reading on a screen. I got my iPad and that changed after reading an issue or two. As someone who’s designed lots of print media including books, my digital transition has really surprised me. Its the future, its here. I love it.

    Yeah i wish prices and selection was better, but that will come with time.

    • I think Wally wins for best posts in a great discussion.

      I went to Detroit Fanfare this weekend with a friend who isn’t into comics but wants to create an OGN for kids. I can’t tell you how many times through the day I found myself explaining some aspect of the comic industry and thinking, “OMG, I sound like an insane person!”

      I really hope this is the era where comics (and comic fans to varying extents) grow up a bit and behave like a proper entertainment industry.

    • Hear hear! @KenOchalek I second that. I always find Wally’s posts to be insightful and matching of my own opinions. I liked reading comics on my computer enough but when I bought my iPad, I confess it was purely for the purpose of reading comic books. (the ability to stream Netflix or play touch-based games was purely secondary).

      As for all your print collectors, don’t knock digital until you’ve tried it. It’s gorgeous and vibrant in ways paper only dreams it could be.

    • Double High Fives guys. =)

      If you’ve only read digital on a computer…i can see that. Trying to read a comic on my laptop/desktop or phone is painful. On the iPad is a joy.

  19. I too am loving the new DC digital releases. I came back to comics about six years ago, but have been reading them in trades instead of monthly floppies. Despite being a long-time Marvel zombie, I’m cutting back on Marvel trades to buy DC’s same-day digital books. I’m not leaving Captain America behind, but I will say that Marvel is missing the boat by not selling me their material digitally on the day of release.

  20. JIm, one of the best points you raised was the 3 month pre-order that we as comic readers are required to do if we want the guarantee of getting what we want when it comes out, and that this is a crazy system, but to fight against it would put your LCS out of business.
    I’d like to point out that the system is flawed due to Diamond’s monopoly and stranglehold they over the distribution. I’d like to see this all change somehow for the better, but as a former (very small) comics retailer I don’t know what the solution is, other than another distributor coming into the market and shaking things up.

    • Every time Diamond screws my shop (roughly once a week now), the manager and I joke, “That does it! This is unacceptable. You should take your business elsewhere.” And then we laugh. And then he cries. And then I go download the book they didn’t ship him.

  21. My biggest problem with digital right now, is 99% of the comixology (or handful of others going it alone) are (in a nut shell) ‘reprints’ of print material. Comics intended for print, and the standard (modern American) comic book size. Which isn’t particularly conducive to reading on a PC monitor or mobile device. So, from the word ‘Go’ all digital comic content is already available in a format it is design for, and therefore better in that format.

    Not to mention, 99% of digital comics are repackagings of existing product. Publishes are essentially competing with existing print products.

    So… in my mind. Digital Comics won’t truly come upon their own until we start to see A) First Run Digital exclusive content (with Print collections the secondary distribution goal) and B) Comics formatted for 16:9 ratio monitors (to mitigate scrolling and zooming taking the reader out of the comic experience).

    Until that happens, Digital Comics is never going to get out from under the shadow of print and become its own ‘Thing’.

    At least that’s my opinion on that matter.

    • Someone, maybe SLG?, is going to a model where their issues will be digital for some titles and their print will come after the fact as a collection for some titles.

      As for formatting for a monitor, I think one major factor in digital moving forward is the growing number of tablet computers. Changing the format for a monitor will A) alienate the tablet owning market who may end up being the fastest digital adopters, and B) force publishers to abandon a print counterpart entirely or increase costs considerably as they print non-standard sizes or have to redesign page layouts for existing digital content.

      If anything has a long term affect on the dimensions of comics, I think it’s likely to be the dimensions that become most prevalent in the tablet market, not desktop monitors. But really I don’t think we need to create a schism between print and digital just to make digital successful. I don’t really know that making digital it’s own ‘thing’ is a goal. What I would like to see is less focus on the medium and more on the content. As a consumer, I am happy with the state of digital music not because they found a way to make the music dramatically different then buying the CD, but because it got to the point where listening to the music was the same experience no matter where the music came from.

      There are things that can be done on a screen that can’t be done on a printed page, not just different “page” dimensions, but sound, animation, guided panel progression, and more. These are interesting ideas, and they could make a new thing of their own, but the more you rely on them, the more it becomes dependent on the device rather than simply another way to present the same type of story telling. I’m not opposed, but to me that’s not the “digital comics” I’m interested in. I think digital comics will come into their own when, come Wednesday, one person can read their screen and another can read their floppy, and both will have almost the same experience.

  22. Having started a blog where I write about past comics, it’s nice that I’m able to pull out my long boxes and grab that things I need. I really hope that the things I’m buying digitally are still available for me to read in twenty years, though I’m not holding my breath. We shall see.

    • Now see, for my part, I love having all those X-Men issues digitally on a hard drive for those very same reference purposes. I can Google what issue a thing happened in, then just open the file.

      You’re right, of course, about the permanence of these app-bought files. What happens when iPads get replaced by the next thing? Where do all my purchases go? Are they trapped on my phone forever? Accursed DRM.

    • Oh sure. I’d love to have comics on my computer in a PDF format or something similar. I’d totally prefer that. Then, I’d know I’d have it forever as long as I kept everything backed up. No worries. But, since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, my uncertainty remain.

    • I agree with you Jeff.

      I REALLY want to go all digital. It was awesome being able to download Demon Knights, after my shop ran out of copies BEFORE filling all of their subs. Great issue BTW. In fact it was so good…I bought a physical copy on eBay for $4.

      I know…shame on me. But I really liked this issue. I wanted to keep it for as long as I wanted, not as long as comixology is in business, or until my account gets deleted.

  23. I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since the The Great Comic Heist. Time flies.

  24. Unfortunately, if you aren’t willing to shell out for an iPad, iPhone or similar device, you’re stuck with only being able to read your digital comics while you’re connected to the internet, using a pretty horrible browser based reader. I think digital is definitely the way to go, but they need to work a few of the kinks out first.

    • The browsers used to read pirated comics are infinitely superior to the options available on comixology. Also reading online is terrible. What if I am on a plane or on a car trip with my laptop? Or don’t have internet and want to read an issue?

      Digital comics should be at least as easy to read as print ones and can offer so much more but the publishers are neolithic, or at best stuck in the 80s.

  25. For me, the ipad is the best way I’ve ever read comics. The only downside is that sometimes the lettering is so small or the font choice so poor that I have to double tap to enlarge it. Shouldn’t be a problem if the ever get around to putting a retina display on the ipad though. Also, the price point is still too high. 99¢ is the sweet spot, get there & I’ll buy almost everything! Better yet, do a subscription that gives access to the back issues, I’d snap that up in a heartbeat!

    I’m done collecting anything, comics, books, action figures, etc. They just take up space.

  26. It would be nice if the major companies actually gave a shit about digital comics. They don’t have a fucking clue. Just listen to the Word Balloon with the DC publishers that also has Tom Katers. The DC guys are completely clueless. Sad and depressing.

    Joe Quesada’s great plan was to ignore it for 5 years and hope it goes away. Great. Way to go champ. Or you are getting promoted? Peachy. Also on Word Balloon.

    • John Wordballoon is a very polite dude but you can hear the bewilderment and exasperation in his voice during those two interviews where he tried to wake up the publishers. No dice.

  27. The one thing that always gets me about hearing/reading publishers and prominent creators talk about digital comics, is they talk about it like the technology is 10 years away, and that pop culture isn’t using smart phones and iPads with any kind of wide spread use. Its so interesting how so many in the business of making comics are out of touch with the world around them.

  28. I amazed at the number of people who paint those who enjoy print books and not digital as old-fashioned, out of touch, and lacking technical savvy. We’ve even been painted as quasi religious creatures of habit. Such a close-minded point of view. @therealsuperjosh said it best – it’s a matter of preference. It’s just going to be hard getting that through to some of the die-hard digital crowd who happen to be just as bull-headed as some of the print crowd (whether they admit it or not).

  29. Man, I am SO tortured. I’d already been going crazy about whether to by single issues or do trade paperbacks…and now it is single issues (with my comic book store discount which is cheapest) vs. digital (sure is convenient on same day, and the stories here about how much a “pad” would improve the experience jibes with good not great experience using my laptop) vs. trade paperback (love reading trades, they feel weighty, look great on my shelf, are easy to pull down and just start reading).


  30. Lost in all the above, btw, was Jim’s excellent point that the new 52 may have been a turning point for a majority of comics readers…the whole event made it easy to “try something new” and go digital. I’d love to see the numbers on how many more digitals they sold in the last month, I know mine went from zero to a significant number.

    The day Marvel goes Day and Date will be the other huge spike.

  31. if i were to offer a “defense” of the printed book i would give you “the continuation of an artform”.

    The reason we have all of the artistic conventions of comics/sequential art is because they exist on a page that needs to be turned in a book and manipulate the reader through them. All the composition and layouts and pacing ideas exists because of the “limits” of the art form (being a physical book made up of pages)…those things get advanced through the experimentation within those confines.

    Digital has no such confines. And right now digital is nothing more than a photographic copy of an already existing artform. Kinda pointless from an artform stand point. Digital could be its own and possibly superior art form if it grew away from exactly copying printed comics. The reason there is an us/them mentality is because digital (currently) is just a copy of the printed book.

    Now if what you really care about is seeing your favorite hero shove a firehydrant through your favorite villian in wonderfully drawn and crafted fashion every month, then digital comics just made your life a whole lot more convenient and better. Life is good.

    If you care about the artform, well then you have a new thing that isn’t doing anything new and which may slowly marginalize the old thing where all conventions were created and continue to try and grow. Life is ehh…

    It would be like having a computer carve and paint an exact replica of an apple out of plastic…kinda misses the point of the apple and you could be creating much cooler things with such a computer than simply copying things that already exist in the world.

    now i want apple pie.
    let me go check online.

  32. I can’t agree with your idea that the delivery system can marginalize the art form by itself. That puts all the value on the form and not the content. If you care about the art form of comics then you should be a patron of it..and that means buying a comic…whether its digital or print is irrelevant..the net result is the same. The content is the real value, not the wrapper it comes in.

    A printed comic book that has been mass produced thousands of copies at a time that translated an artists pencil, ink and color art into a series of CMYK halftones and line screens is no more an original work of art than a PDF or DRM’ed format digital copy of RGB pixels. We’re talking about wrappers when we should be savoring the yummy Burgers inside of them. =)

    I do agree with you about the first part, and i’m glad someone else is thinking about this stuff. Porting a print comic to a digital space is relatively pointless and i see it as a temporary stopgap. If you want an amazing digital experience that pushes what sequential art can do with the technology you have to write stores and design pages that take advantage of what iPads and such can do. Pages, spreads….even lettering all needs to be reconsidered. At some point, savvy creators will realize they have to chose their primary format and design with that in mind.

    • late post done but for posterities sake.

      Just so you know I AM placing more value on the form rather than the content since i was championing the art”form”.
      If you are placing the value on the content (ie story) you can get the same story in any medium. One could have identical scenes, dialogue, characters and plot in either: movies, written prose, live theater, opera, maybe even ballet and puppet shows…but you can only get the artform of comics in comics. The artform is unique to the craft of that artform. The content it conveys is secondary. The content, when expressed through the artform, is what I (and others) enjoy, however if you solely or mainly enjoy the content than the fact that it comes in comic form is not really important. Which is why the movies and digital is good for those individuals to get similar content.

      I think the idea of “original” art in comics is invalid to the art form, much as it is in movies and written fiction…the fact that it is mass produced is meaningless to the expression and advancement of the comic artform…for all intents and purposes the printed comic IS the work of art, just as the viewed movie is the work of art for film or the printed book is the work of art for fiction. People acclaim the printed book not the original manuscript.

      In the wrapper/burger analogy…its more like the burger is the medium of comics where as the toppings and sauces are the content. You can get the same topings and sauces on a chicken or tofu patty, but those will never be a burger.

      Very excited about the new possibilities for digital comics as even Scott McCloud’s experiments years ago showed promise. Hope more creators rise to the possibilites than just a marginal few.

  33. When EXACTLy was DC going to start lowering their prices on new digital releases to $1.99? I’ve been checking and Swamp thing #1 that came out 3 weeks ago is still cover price!! WTF???