The iFanboy Letter Column – 07/24/2009

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s time to really give some thought to how much food you can eat in one 48 hour period without moving. For others, Friday means it’s time for the lunatics to run the asylum!

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming — contact@ifanboy.com

This week Paul Montgomery and Jim Mroczkowski are answering your letters!


Let’s say in theory that comics go completely digital with Longbox and all of them are $1 (other than special issues). Do you see yourself buying more comics and spending the same (or possibly more) per week OR do you see your pull list staying roughly the same or only marginally bigger and therefore saving a ton of cash.

Personally, I love my comics but I can only afford at max, 20 pulls a month, if that. So I would use this to jump onto all the books I’m interested in and spend the same.

Remember, this is theoretical, so please no cynical comments from Josh or Conor about this NEVER happening.

Nawid A. (miyamotofreak)

Well, if they’re all going to be that much cheaper, I’d almost certainly buy more books. Let’s say I spend 20 to 30 clams a week on comics. It’s not true, but let’s say it is. Let’s say that that works out to six or seven books on the low end to ten on the other. If I’m saving between 66 and 75% on each book, that’s sort of terrific. Instead of dropping 30 mollusks on ten physical books, I can cough up ten bivalves for ten digital books. I save 20 dollars and the effort of putting on clothes. I could use those 20 dollars to buy 20 more books.

But I don’t think I want to read 30 books a week. In fact, I know I don’t. So, some of my money would likely go to trying a handful of books I might not have tried otherwise (and books that would not have seen the light of day otherwise). I’d be able to buy more collections as well, which is the major thing. There is even a slight chance that I might put some of the surplus money away for the future, so I don’t have to wander the Philadelphia wilderness in my twilight years with a ladder, climbing into the boughs of trees to steal birds’ eggs for cheap sustenance.

So, option C, marginally bigger.

Which is, of course, what she said.

– Paul Montgomery

If comics went digital, I would buy way, way more books. Do you hear me, publishers? I will spend a fortune on comics if they go digital. So go do that right now.

In all seriousness, I traditionally don’t buy a ton of DC books, but if they were a buck and I didn’t have to leave the house? Hell, I’d read a Superman book. I’ve got a dollar. Or four dollars for newsprint. That’s also a way you can go in 2009 A.D.

– Jim Mroczkowski

 


Conor, Ron, and Josh got to give us their top 5 ongoings (top 3 for Josh) in the most recent grilling episode. I would like to know your top 5 ongoings. I’m always looking for something new to try.

Chris C. (stuclach) from Milledgeville, GA

Whoof. I took a lot longer to think about this than the Founders had as they stood there turning corn. Just in terms of the books that make me exclaim, “Ooh ooh ooh!” when I see them on the Monday pull list, and in no particular order, I would… have to… say… and I am… not stalling at all…

The New Avengers
The Amazing Spider-Man
Irredeemable
Dark Avengers
I am stunned to discover Uncanny X-Men on this list, even as the words are leaving my body

Chew, The Unwritten, and Batman and Robin are also contenders, but it’s just too soon to tell. The definition of “ongoing” is getting in the way of Criminal/Incognito, too. Is that enough qualifiers for you?

– Jim Mroczkowski

This one’s difficult because most of the books I love currently are limited series. My heart goes out to the fleeting things. It’s like that quote from The Outsiders. “Every pony turns gold” or something. Right, so limited series. Hellboy and B.P.R.D. for example. I’d hesitate to call them minis because really they’re just broken down into arcs. But pick up an issue of B.P.R.D. and you’ll find a fraction on it. “2 of 5” or whatever. So, not all of these are technically ongoings, but they’re close enough if you ask me.

Hellboy
B.P.R.D.
Superman: World of New Krypton (or wherever Superman is at the time)
Detective Comics
Batman and Robin (yeah, I know…)

Expect some of these to get ousted for new Geoff Johns titles like The Flash or (especially) Adventure Comics. My runners up? Supergirl, The Unwritten and Green Lantern.

– Paul Montgomery


I’d like to pry behind the iron curtain and inquire as to the thought process behind your articles. Do you wait for a moment of inspiration or do you have a list of ideas? Do you draft columns or do you write in a ferocious, frantic, oh-my-god-the-deadline-is-approaching style?

Dave

Ha! “Thought process.” Never lose that, Dave. Never lose that innocence.

I have a text document labeled “ifanboy ideas,” but if you opened that document right now you would see something along the lines of…

morning zoo
bacon sandwich
giraffe nectar
start thinking about/writing articles a week early so you don’t have to go through this anymore
read every issue of
Star Brand and write about the experience

 

I don’t remember what the first three mean; the last one is a great idea when you’re not looking at it for the very first time twelve hours before the article is due. Mainly, I try to stay current. Yes, that is why I wait as long as possible to begin. Currency.

Sometimes, I think about taking requests and asking readers what they want to read about. Then, a nanosecond later, I picture the nightmare hellscape that would be created in my inbox and think better of the whole endeavor.

– Jim Mroczkowski

The only articles I really plan/anticipate are the new book reviews. Right now, for example, I’m looking to write reviews for Low Moon by Jason or Asteriors Polyp by David Mazzucchelli. New books I’m really excited about will get pushed to the head of the queue, while not so recent books are set in the reserves for rainy day reviews. I do have a few long term projects which require a little bit of homework though. I’m slowly working my way through all of Promethea, and whenever I’ve finished that it’ll be a thing. As for current events and buzz topics and theme pieces, those are spur of the moment things. I really have to be fired up to delve into anything so complex. Jimski does that kind of stuff all the time and it really floors me. Thing is, I haven’t been at this long enough to do many opinion pieces. Not just writing about comics, but reading them. I don’t know the industry nearly as well as the rest of the staff. I’ll get there though.

There’s two sparks for me. Sharing a great book, whether popular or obscure. Then, how does it work? Why does this comic succeed, and what can we take from that in looking at other books and maybe making our own.

– Paul Montgomery

 


Since all of you are around 30 in age do you still see yourselves following comics in your 40s and 50s? I’ve been into comics on and off my whole life (I’m in my early 40s) and now since listening to your podcast I’m back in. I must say I do feel weird going into comics book shops and looking around because of my age. Hence I order trades online. What are your thoughts?

Vincent from Westchester

We’re one month off from my 25th birthday (my silver anniversary as a human being), and while there are several Augusts between now and my forties and fifties, I think I can answer this with some confidence. If there are comics in 2034, I will be looking at them. I love art and story, maybe more than anyone ought to love them. With the inevitable and imminent conversion to digital, comics will only become easier to come by, easier to consume. Which is perfect, because I’m lazy and will grow exponentially lazier in the years and decades to come. Those are the constants in a sea of variables. I’m a sloth, but a sloth passionate about words and pictures. So if there’s a way to experience sequential art (one of my many favorite kinds of art) you’ll be hard-pressed to keep me away from it. Especially if it’s something I can do while reclining in my underwear. Which, by all accounts, might be just about everything. Which is comforting to know and not so comforting to think about.

As for the distant future, we know very little about it, aside from the fact that there will be larger puddles and that various regions will be governed by intelligent bipedal tiger people. We don’t know if there will be comic shops or any shops at all, really. Will we even have eyes or will there even be light enough to look at things? Will everything be in Braille? As a race of mole people, will our art be entirely tactile, and will all scorned artists have to sigh at their detractors and say, “You’re just not groping it right.”? But shortly after that sequence of uncertainty there will surely be some kind of brightly colored apocalypse. Following that, there will likely be caves. Because we’re plucky, there will be human survivors too. Then, in our attempts to recreate language, we will look to pictures. We’ll do it all over again. Because we need to.

What was the question?

Right. Love what you love, Vincent. Life’s too short to worry about being self conscious. Storm in there and get your books. I mean, pay for them obviously… but go get them.

– Paul Montgomery

 

Comments

  1. My birthday is in August too Paul!  Represent!!

    I’d have to say, if all comcis went digital I would certainly buy more books.  And the great thing would be, I wouldn’t have to wait until Wednesday to do it!  If the publishers offered a pretty decent collection of their back issues, at least from the last year or so, I might even give older series a shot.  Maybe I would read Jonah Hex?  Maybe even X-Force or, heaven forbid, Deadpool.  So I could treat myself to a new comic every day if I so choose.  Oh the possibilities.

    @Jim-Giraffe nectar sounds like the kind of porn I never want to watch 0_o

  2. My top 5?

    Chew

    Batman and Robin

    Detective Comics

    Criminal/Incognito (the book is going to be a series of minis now so I just count it as a ongoing)

    Unwritten 

     

    All my pulls I consider honorable mentions or else I would not be pulling them. 

     

  3. Unwritten is an ongoing? I thought it was a mini

  4. Thank you very much for answering my question. I have also enjoyed Unwritten, but I’m not certain it is in my top 5. I’m going to give Irredeemable a shot in trades (same with Chew). I think my top 5 would be:
    Batman & Robin, Green Lantern, Hellboy (all of it), G.I. Joe Origins, Mighty.
    I have enjoyed Dark Avengers, but have dropped it during the current crossover.

    If we move to digital comics and the price drops accordingly, I will increase the number of books I buy. I think the big two know that, but they need to be certain that the increase in quantity will be enough to offset any decrease in profit per issue.  I hope they find it financially feasible to make the change to digital. 

    I can say with certainty that (if I am still alive and comics still exist) I will be buying comics when I am 50, 60, or 100.

  5. Unwritten is a ongoing.

  6. I pick up 4-5 comics, on average, per week at my LCS. If Longbox does go price comics $1 to $2; then yes I will pick up more books. There are so many indie titles I pick up in trade cause of costs. There is also a lot of DC/Marvel books I wanna try monthly but don’t have the budget for. I say if Longbox does keep a low price, I could add ten titles to my pullbin if it were to happen.

    Top Five for me at the moment: Incredible Hercules, Deadpool, Batman and Robin, Hellboy, Green Lantern Corps. No order for these, but maybe Incredible Herc is top on it right now.

  7. Who said that Marvel and DC are even going to support Longbox with new releases?  I just don’t see Diamond laying down on the train tracks to be crushed without a fight.  I would imagine that Diamond has somebody from DC and Marvel in their pocket by now.  I wouldn’t mind being able to buy some more comics at only a dollar a piece, but I surely don’t want to see every Mom & Pop brick & mortar shop go under because of this digital revolution of comics that could all be wiped off your hard drive at anytime anyway.  I guess only time will tell.  I kind of was hoping to own my own comic shop one day, I guess that dream will never be able to come true because everybody wants to go digital now.

    I mean look at iTunes.  They got everybody sucked in by being able to buy songs for .99 a piece, then they raised them all up to $1.29!  Longbox will come out with cheaper comics at first, but then once they wipe the paper market off of the planet, they’ll jack up the price because they don’t have to worry about competition anymore.  Might as well just leave it the way it is.

  8. @Robby-There is so much wrong with your statement that I don’t even know where to start

  9. Great questions and answers.

  10. Jeesh, didn’t Josh and Ron have New Avengers on their top five books too? What’s with that? Everyone aparently loves it and buys it, but no one ever talks about it anymore. (I loathe what Bendis has done with the mainstream Marvel U–but that’s a different discussion. I just find it weird that no one talks about the habitual #1 ongoing title on the sales chart.)

    As far as digital comics go, I think most people would buy more comics…but spend less money. Like one of you guys said, you’re not going to be reading 3x or 4x as many comics, even though you could do so for the same amount of money. So, really, let’s look at this from a broader perspective: Who’s going to LOSE in this equation? The comic shops, and oh yeah maybe even the creators themselves (or at least those signed to Marvel or DC). People are going to be spending less money on comics (let’s say ten $1 titles instead of five or six $3 or $4 titles), but the publishers are going to get a bigger percentage of the money collected, cutting out the middleman (the comic shop). The publishers are going to make sure their bottomline doesn’t dip into the red before they even consider spending more money on talent. Sure, the big names are still going to command higher rates, but I think the bigger issue is what could easily happen to most other creators: with the advent of digital comics, they’re all one step away from being "just" creators of webcomics. Captain Britain isn’t selling well? Okay, we’ll how about Marvel just makes it digital-only, instead of cancelling it. That’d keep the fans happy, sure, and it’d keep the title going, but that also means that the company is less INVESTED in the project. In other words, "Hey Cornell and Kirk, you have zero pull with us. You want to keep working for us? Okay, then you’re going to take a paycut. We don’t care. What you’re doing for us is ‘just’ a digital comic that we can’t even justify PRINTING anymore. Take a paycut or starve." Admittedly, NONE of us know what’s really going to happen in the future, but I can see the advent of digital comics making the behind-the-scenes deals a LOT crueler once the end-product is just a webcomic, really, just a bunch of pixels transmitted uniformly as pure data, as opposed to an actual BOOK, the tangible product of a lot of different hands (papermill, printers, shippers, comic shops). Just my opinion. Personally, I don’t mind reading comics on a screen.

  11. I don’t really think I’d buy more new titles at a lower price.  I’d probably try more first issues, but right now I’m at the point where if I think something’s worth spending money on I buy it.  The way I could see myself taking advantage of this is if they make back issues downloadable, maybe in runs or bundles that aren’t in demand enough to justify printing in trade but that I’d like to be able to read in a more reliable way than picking up issues in the comic shop here and there.  Sort of the way I use my ’40 years of x-men’ DVD-ROM, only not so freaking hard to navigate. 

     

  12. Good job guys

  13. Maybe it’ll cause me to give less of a chance to new books. If I bought it cheap and digitally, I probably burned it to a CD I can’t find. Some people might hype those but not the holy trinity, so the push to read is weaker, so I won’t search for the CD amongst the dozens of other burnt CDs. I guess the ability to download it several times (like DriveThruComics does) might fix that, and the low admission price balances that out. Also it’s nice to see the entire page structure in one look, and small screens won’t allow that, and computer screens might do that but it’ll be a hassle – to tilt the monitor. You won’t be able to see two complete pages at once which is a shame, even though some comics need that since you don’t want to know what happens in the next page.

  14. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    Thanks for the insight into how you write your columns, guys.  It makes your columns even more impressive to know how little you plan them in advance.  Thanks!  Oh, and I just put myself on the list for LOW MOON based only on your plan to write a review, Paul.  That’s how good of a reviewer you are.

  15. @Paul..  " Love what you love, Vincent. Life’s too short to worry about being self conscious."—–a big Thank you, coming from a 38(yikes) yearold comic fanboy(geezer?)

  16. 44 here and have been buying comics steadliy since I was 12.  My LCS owner is older than me and I’d say a good 10-15% of the people in the shop are too.  Show those whippersnappers what true geeky geezerdom is about!

    Regarding digital books – I think I would actually buy LESS books if they went digital.  If I can’t read them sitting on the train or on the toilet i’m not interested in buying them.