The iFanboy Letter Column – 04.06.2012

Hey guys, I’m James Mercer of the indie rock group, The Shins!

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s show time, which is always a lot of fun, especially when there’s no one left in the band that used to be in the band, and it’s pretty much just your band. For others, it means doing an album with Brian Burton producing, because if you’re going to be bother relevant, popular, and successful, that’s just what you do. It worked for the Black Keys. For others still, you just write some songs on your guitar, and no matter how much of an attitude people cop, it’s still a really amazing group of songs, and in a register that almost no one living can sing along with.

For the guys who run iFanboy, Friday is letter column time.

You write. They answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of iFanboy’s shows or answered here, in the letter’s column keep them coming to

I’ve been watching you video podcasts for years (I miss them, talking comics works perfectly with video podcasts). I’ve been debating getting a tablet, the main reason is for digital comics. In your opinion, do you think its better to buy your digital comics from a third party publisher ( Graphicly or Comixology) or from the publishers themselves (Marvel, DC, or Darkhorse)? And comics purchased from one app, can not be read in another app, correct? This is one idea that cause me pause. It would be better for the consumer, if it was more like buying an MP3 and being able to play the file on multiple devices or apps. (and I know you guys work with Graphicly, but hopefully that won’t sway your answer).


While there are some who might doubt our integrity, they are wrong, and I proclaim myself mightily integrous, which is in no way an acceptable phrase. Either way, I’ll give it to you the way I see it.

You should buy your digital comics from the place you most like buying digital comics. If they have the interface or apps you like best, or the best selection, or prices, or whatever is important to you. It should be noted that if you’re buying through the DC or Marvel or Image app, you’re really just buying through ComiXology anyway, so it’s the same thing. It might make a difference on a spreadsheet somewhere, but that shouldn’t concern you. Dark Horse is definitely doing their own thing, which is certainly laudable, but none of these services are really cross platform compatible. I’ve heard this described as a complaint from a lot of comic readers, and the simple fact is, the publishers don’t want that, so it doesn’t exist. It might some day, but right now there is too much concern in terms of protectionism for that to happen. Neither Marvel nor DC are going to allow a non-DRM, multi-platform standard of their comics, and they control things. There are some who do a non-DRM PDF or a CBR format, but it’s not the standard, and it’ll be sometime, if ever, for the comic industry to do something akin to the MP3 in music.

Our own company, Graphicly, has recognized this to a certain extent, and we’ve moved to focusing more on the eBook market, basically working to help distribute comics and other types of publications into the big digital stores, where people are actively buying digital books. Sort of like taking trades and putting them in the Barnes and Noble aisles, in addition to just comic shops. So if you like your Kindle Fire, you can get your stuff through their relatively universal format, or Apple iBooks.

But either way, you’re in a single system format. If that bothers you, and it does for a lot of people, maybe legitimate digital comics aren’t for you yet. There are benefits and disadvantages to each system, and the industry is working their way through it constantly.

Is that unbiased enough?

Josh Flanagan

First time writing in, love the show been listening for a couple years and in all that time have not heard y’all once talk about Spawn. Whats up with that no love for the fallen one? I’ve been reading since around 187, and I’m not some die hard Spawn fan who keeps picking up the book even though it sucks. Which it doesn’t, it’s a great book, one of the ones i look forward to, so why no mention? Please one of you pick up a Spawn let me know what you think!

Mike (BigDrty Man)

Spawn really has become a bit of a forgotten book. When it burst onto the scene at the launch of Image Comics, it was one of the hottest titles, selling over a million copies of the first issue. I read Spawn from issue #1 and I hung in there through issue #100. Why did I drop the title? Well, at the time I felt that after 100 issues, I had gotten my fill. Plus, for me at least, the draw for Spawn was Todd McFarlane, both in writing and drawing. After McFarlane handed the pencils over to Greg Capullo (remember when?) it lost a little bit of the magic (even though Capullo was fantastic, even back then). And then McFarlane handed off the writing as well and I lost my interest. Now, that decision was totally up to McFarlane. It’s his character and if he was happy with handing it off to others (all fine creators by the way) so he can focus on his toys business or whatever else he focused on, that was totally his prerogative.

But as the years have gone on, Spawn has endured. If you look at it now, it recently shipped issue #218. That’s over TWO HUNDRED issues of an independent creator owned book. That’s amazing. The independent, creator owned landmark is Dave Sim on Cerebus with 300 issues, and you know what, I bet Spawn is going to beat that. I think in a world dominated by new #1 issues and reboots and relaunches, Spawn has been one of the few books (along with Savage Dragon, another excellent Image founder book) that hasn’t fallen in for the gimmicks. They’ve just consistently published comics the way they want to.

Now that McFarlane is returning to write the series, Spawn may be worth a look again. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the book from those who do read it, like you Mike aka BigDrty Man. So perhaps it’s time to return and get onboard as the march to 300 issues begins… so stay tuned!

Ron Richards


  1. Josh,

    Thanks for the answer, totally unbiased. Thanks. Good to know about DC & Marvel just using ComiXology. Again, thanks.

  2. Good answer Josh.

  3. I’d like someone to talk about what is happening with Comixology and DC Comics on the Kindle Fire.
    My main reason for buying a Kindle Fire was to jump on board with a lot of the New 52 titles.
    Comixology’s lack on information and “just buy them through our website” answer is getting annoying.

    • I have a Fire, and I find the lack of interoperability really annoying. I usually buy issues from the shop, but if I miss one, this is a backup, but it doesn’t work well at all.

    • Josh and undertak1983 – what problem are you having with Comixology? I have an iPad, and the books that I’ve wanted to purchase have been there…just curious.

    • Avatar photo filippod (@filippodee) says:

      That’s the magic of digital sales. You can buy only IF they want and how they want you to. You from the US don’t notice it much but we rest of the world are locked out from all sorts of digital content. Luckily not from ComiXology comics (so far) – those are available – but that’s pretty much an exception.

    • Othello24: For months, on the Kindle Fire, the comixology app only had the first 3 or 4 issues of DC’s New 52, even though 6 or 7 issues have been released. As of last month on the Kindle Fire only, all of DC Comics have been removed from the Comixology app for purchase. When asking a comixology rep about the issue, their usual reply is for me to purchase the content on their website and sync my Kindle Fire. My main issue is that I already have my credit card info through the 1-click option through Amazon and I don’t want my credit card info with multiple websites. Also, I read my digital content on the Kindle Fire and I’d like to be able to purchase new content directly through the device.

    • Yeah, what’s available on the Fire is different than what’s available on iOS on ComiXology. There’s no Marvel or DC app for Fire, because of other (annoying) exclusive deals. While Fire is technically an Android device, it’s the Fire flavor of Android, and their walled garden is much smaller.

      I’m very close to just rooting it, and putting on straight up Android, but I don’t know if I can do that without messing it up.

      Compared to an iPad, it’s a much crappier device in general.

    • Im with josh on this one… I have been researching rooting my Fire for the last week and plan on doing it today. The lack of availability is concerning…

    • I have a fire and I know its a bit of a work around but if you download the Comixology app on your phone and purchase it on that. You can then you into your app on the fire, go to purchases and download the book from there.
      After weeks of doing this I’m just so used to it.

  4. Is James Mercer an iFanboy user? My problem so far with buying comics on my iPad is the Comixology app itself and how it lets you view comics. Just add a fit to width of screen option ffs! I’ll buy the comic on comixology then pirate the cbr so i can view it in Comiczeal.

    • Avatar photo filippod (@filippodee) says:

      I second the need of a “fit to width” option.

    • I wish they had a a couple of different ways to view the actual comic, like the 2 page thing they got going on, a single page option or a panel by panel option. It wouldn’t always work so well if you have panels bleeding into one another and maybe it’d be a chore to have to resize to work with different size panels, but the crappy image viewer on windows sorta knows how to do that. I’d just like to see them work a little different with the format than the traditional comics. Now if that were all packaged up as a cbr or something I could watch through my PS3, that’d be awesome.

  5. I somewhat disagree with comparing the Spawn run to Cerebus simply due to the fact that Sim did all 300 issues, whereas McFarlane gave up art after less than 30 issues (not sure when he quit writing)- it is not to say that Spawn having such longevity is diminished, but it is not a simpering comparison in terms if numbers.

  6. I am extremely shocked Spawn is still around. I know it was a huge thing back in the 90s but….Who is still reading that?

    And I don’t mean that last question as a negative. It’s just that well, I mean come on! Who honestly thinks about Spawn in this day and age? If it wasn’t the fact that it was a big reason Image is still around to this day then I would imagine it would be cancelled in a heartbeat.

    • And before you type up 8 paragraphs on why I am wrong let me just rephrase what I said:

      I am not bashing Spawn in terms of quality nor am I judging the fans who read it cause I’m sure there are lots who do on this site. I just can’t imagine it sells very well in today’s world. Heck, it didn’t even crack the top 100 chart for March this year.

  7. i hear pretty good things about spawn. i was thinking of giving it a go. i haven’t read since issue 40 something.
    i read an article where todd mcfarlane stated he’s been writing spawn under the pen name Will Carlton since like issue…185 i think.

  8. If Spawn passes the #300 issue mark (which it most likely will) it still won’t “beat” the Cerebus record in my mind, because all 300 issues of Cerebus were written and drawn by Dave Sim, while McFarlane jumped off of Spawn for a very long time.