Reading the Future of Comics August 1, 2011 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog – Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s an interesting current discussion on LinkedIn titled, “The iPad Could Destroy The Comic-Book Industry.” That rather fearfully hyperbolic title was in reference to an article about digital comics.

As loyal readers of this column last week know, DC is going “day and date” with their “52” comics beginning August 31st. That bit of business gibberish simply means that the digital versions of their comics will now be available the same day as their printed counterparts. (Previously there was, I believe, a 30-day wait for the online versions.)

However, that comes at a cost. Digital will be the same price as print for the first 30 days. After that, you can save a buck–or, if you prefer, 33 percent. (Cover price is 2.99.)

 

Which would you prefer to do on this device: Play fast-paced, properly-sized, action-packed, real-time video games with music and sound effects, or…read a 6”x9” comic book?

 

The sometimes passionate, sometimes informative, sometimes optimistic and sometimes pessimistic discussion that followed raged and ranged, from “yay” to “nay” to “maybe.”

I’ve seen comics on an iPad–SLG’s version (thanks to Dan Vado) look great. (You can see them here.) Page-turning is very lifelike, colors appear brilliant, zoom-ins seem easy and clear, and proportions seem perfectly suited. (Except double-page spreads, which obviously must be shrunk to fit landscape mode.) However, I’ve not seen DC’s nor anyone else’s, digital versions. Nor have I seen any on a Kindle, Nook, iPhone, iPod, eBook, or ei-ei-o.

Personally, I wouldn’t dare nor desire to read a 6×9-inch comic-book page on a dinky smart-phone screen, but there are plenty of myopic men, women and children who actually enjoy watching TV shows and feature films on a postage stamp. Anything is possible.

 

Reality check: I don’t care how young you are or how great your eyesight is: Would you *really* prefer to read this intricately drawn and (hand-)lettered Chris Ware spread on your phone screen and not in a letter-sized book? Be honest.

 

So far, the majority of respondents feel that it’s still much too soon to call it a “one or other” choice, let alone declare a winner or loser. Both should be with us for awhile yet. Not all publishers and retailers have embraced the new formats equally either. The art-minded folks like yours truly pointed out that giant-sized tomes like IDW’s massive 10×15-inch Artist Editions (which faithfully reproduce the exact original artwork at full- or near full-size) will simply never be offered solely on any small digital device because it defeats their very purpose. Pros and cons of both formats were offered, which everyone can already figure out. It comes down to personal preference and usage.

 

This Kirby classic art would look great on an iPad. But does it look cooler in a big Marvel Treasury Edition? Enough for you to buy/keep both? Comment below!

Others pointed out that TV was supposed to kill radio half a century ago; and though radio has changed considerably (and arguably shrunken in its importance/relevance) it’s still very much with us. Cars supplanted horses for transportation but there are still plenty of people who enjoy horseback riding. CDs replaced vinyl records yet the old technology is not only still being produced, but sales have actually grown in the last year or two from being nearly extinct. But who still uses 8-tracks? DVDs replaced Laser Discs, Betamax and VHS tapes–yet there are still some films one one or more of those formats that may never be released otherwise. You can still buy DVD/VCR players but not Laser Disc players. And no films have been released on either format for years. So the evidence supports both prognostications.

Therefore, my conclusion is a question: What do YOU think, dear (real) reader? Which format (or formats) do you currently use, regularly or occasionally, for comic books? Which do you prefer? Which do you plan to be using one and five years from now? Do you see digital comics completely replacing print versions (both periodical and trade/collected form) either in your personal world or the rest of the globe? Or do you think they’ll co-exist?

There are no right or wrong answers. Say what you think below!

Thanks,

Mike

 

P.S.: One final query: Do you want a purely digital commission or one you can hold and hand? I can give you either or both. Just tell Craig here!

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