Interesting article on Digital Comics

stephengervais's picture

With help from the iPad, digital comic books take off

chris hannay

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011 6:00AM EST

Last updated Thursday, Dec. 01, 2011 11:55AM EST

On a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory, the guys asked: Why do we still go to comic-book stores?
Well, Sheldon and the gang would be the first to admit they’re creatures of habit, but many readers of the graphic arts are embracing new means of accessing their favourite titles.

Desperate to find a copy of issue No. 23 of The Walking Dead (yes, the series the AMC zombie epic is based on)? You can spare yourself hours of haunting eBay or comic-book shops and download the complete series for $2.99 or less an issue.
The comic-book industry has been pushing digital for a couple of years, but was held back by technology that was clunky for displaying art.
Enter the tablet – and a whole new readership is discovering the addictive quality of the art form.
“It wasn’t until the iPad or other tablets that we really had a device that could bring a true comic experience to the reader,” says Arune Singh, a director of communications at Marvel.

For the past 10 Wednesdays – the day new comics titles are released – the top-grossing iPad app has been for comic books, according to sales tracker AppData. The graphic-novel world’s version of iTunes is Comics, from developer comiXology, which even came pre-loaded on the Amazon Kindle Fire that debuted in the United States this month.
The app allows purchases of new issues, “guided view” reading that scrolls panel-to-panel for smaller screens, and titles ranging from classic superhero fare to childhood faves like Archie to edgy new series such as dark-comedy detective comic Chew.
Most of comiXology's customers are either new readers or lapsed fans rediscovering the medium, according to CEO David Steinberger.
“We have a lot of people coming back to comics,” Steinberger says.
Many comics readers who have made the switch say ease-of-use was the main draw.

“A big reason I read comics digitally is the convenience of having them take up no space,” says Ryan Closs, a long-time fan who lives in Montreal.
Traditional stores tend to be niche, with a clubhouse feel for enthusiasts, like vinyl stores for music fans. Not to mention the fact that there are simply fewer comic shops around than during the industry’s early-1990s height.
“Digital puts a newsstand in every Starbucks,” says industry analyst Milton Griepp. While exact numbers are hard to come by, he says digital sales of comics more than doubled between summer 2011 and a year earlier.
The next step may be knocking down the walls between the page and the screen.

Major publishers are releasing new issues through every platform simultaneously, starting with Archie Comics at the beginning of this year.
Marvel, the publisher of Spider-Man, X-Men and the Avengers, has started a pilot program that prints codes in physical issues, so readers can download a digital version for free. (Rival DC has started a similar program, but charges extra for the download.)
Marvel says it will eventually follow up with the reverse – digital downloads that come with a coupon for a physical copy.
“What’s really important is that the print and digital publishing are growing together,” says Peter Phillips, a senior vice-president at Marvel.

While some publishers are looking at adding multimedia extras, such as video, into their digital comics, no major players have done so yet. But Marvel's Singh points out that their new Season One line was drawn with the screen in mind, with consistently sized panels and no big spreads that read poorly on an iPhone.
A digital leader among small publishers is Top Shelf, which releases everything from kids' comics to adult works such as Blankets and From Hell. Its strategy has been to use every channel available, according to Chris Ross, director of digital publishing – even offering some titles digitally first. They recently released Lost Dogs, from Essex County author Jeff Lemire, far before the print edition comes out in April.

Since a big share of the digital readers are new, many print retailers don’t seem worried yet that they’re going to lose sales.
Years of online piracy have already eroded sales, and the customers that still come in value the printed page, says George Zotti, co-owner of The Silver Snail in downtown Toronto.
“Comic-book crowd tends to be very tech-savvy,” Zotti says. “But they still have that old-school collector vibe.”


lucstclair's picture

As long as they have both formats, digital and physical copies, well I guess that's fine with me. I like the idea of digital comics not taking space, but I still prefer the old fashion way of collecting comics. There's nothing like going to your local comic book shop every wednesday to check your favorite titles and smelling the fresh print of new comics. It's what I look forward to every week.

This is my opion on how I see this:

1) Tradition: The thought of Digital comics just doesn't fit my "cup of tea". The feel and smell of comics is something you just can't replace with paper comics

2) Cost: true it may be cheaper for the producers of trhe comic to go digital, but then whats the point of producing paper comics if you go digital to save costs?

3) Value: The value of a paaper comic out way the Digital version a 1000 times over, plus how much can you gety for a digital print of a comic when a paper comic years & years(depending on the comic) can go $$$ IE the comic that went for $2.2M

4) Die Hards: As long as there are Die Hards out keeping the print(paper)copies ALIVE!!,there always be paper comics

In conclusition, No give me a paper comic any day of the week compared to a Digital computer dowenload copy any day of the week. There just that feeling going to the comic book store with friends to find your copy of your comic you want, plus disdcussin with friends which supwer hero is better or whichj comic is bettwer abd so forth. As well checking out whats new on Animee.

True the comic book store has change ftrom the "Old School" to "New School" with more them just selling comics, but as long as you can go in smell those comics, the Comic Book Store will always be the Comic Book Store.

Just my opion.