If you’ve never seen a comic collectors room….your missing out!! Dozens of long boxes, containing hundreds of comic books each. Try to find Batman #305 in that mess. With Tablet Computing, things are about to change.
A quick history: Digital comics got a relatively slow start. Marvel started offering digital comics around 2007 with an À la carte option on Marvel.com. You paid a flat rate (monthly and yearly models were available) and could read whatever comics they chose to put up for you. The issues were always older and random. OH! And you needed to read them on your computer screen. Not very user friendly. This model actually stayed around and still is in use today, but it has merged with it’s app, making it more convenient.
DC Comics really didn’t do anything digitally until about two years ago, when they added a similar online only model like Marvel.
Independent comics were always a step ahead of the game. Most independent titles offered purchase to their books for a rate of .99 or 1.99. You would download the .pdf and then just needed a .PDF reader to access it. For independents, this model is still pretty much the same now as it was then.
A few companies tried to rally to the demands of the consumer, but one major company stood out, ComiXology. They are an internet and mobile distribution company, and their mobile app model is now used by every major comics distributor, including Marvel and DC.
Initially, like Marvels first attempt in digital content, the issues offered through mobile apps, were older, random issues. This might be good for a few, casual readers but would not satisfy the current reader, and would likely not hook new readers.
Now comes today:
Mid-2011, DC Comics announced a major change to their comics line. Along with that, a change in digital distribution. They would now have day and date release of comics. The same comics that came out on Wednesday at your Local Comic Shop (LCS) would now be available on your mobile device. Marvel soon followed. The Price Point isn’t ideal: New day and date comics are same as cover price, $2.99 – $3.99 depending. DC drops the price to $1.99 after 4 weeks. Marvel adjusts their price at a whim, not very consistently at all.
The apps are all basically the same since they follow the ComiXology format. The app even lets you locate a LCS in your area, in case you want to visit a brick and mortar store.
All major tablet manufactures support the apps too. iPad, Android and Kindle Fire. The Hi-Res screen on the New iPad makes comics look amazing and the portability of the Kindle Fire makes it even easier to take your collection with you. If your in the Apple world, you can use iTunes cards to purchase comics and all apps have free options for you to try.
Marvel and DC are really embracing the digital age. Reading a comics on a digital device is different that with a floppy (single comic book). For one, they show you panel by panel, not the entire page. A big reveal or surprise is actually that! It’s harder to look ahead and spoil the ending.
Marvel recently put out an “Infinite” comic, Avengers verses X-Men: Infinite. This is a 0.99 comic and was written specifically for digital distribution. It uses effects and fades, words and backgrounds change focus, and it really uses the digital medium to tell the story. If more comics are created in this manner, it will change comics yet again.
Digital comics are not immune to the issues that were faced by music and movies awhile back. Namely, price, DRM and piracy. But, companies are adopting quickly and making adjustments to satisfy fans.
For Marvel Digital Comics information, visit http://comicstore.marvel.com/?nav=1. They have several sections for bulk comics, new readers and the latest issues out.
For DC Comics, visit their newly redesigned site at https://read.dccomics.com/comixology/
For independent comics, that are still relatively DRM Free, check out http://www.mydigitalcomics.com/
I’m sure there are things I’ve missed, so let me know. What are your thoughts? Have your tried reading comics on a digital device, are you curious? Sound off…I’d love to hear.