While we’ve been ranting and complaining and what not it has been an epochal week in digital comics publishing with so much crap going on, we are just going to link like crazy.
The week started off, of course with BOOM! Studios making two big announcements. First, they joined Marvel with their own iPad/iPhone comics app, which quickly went to the top ten of downloaded book apps:
We’ve yet to really dig in to comics on the iPad, but this rise of the comics apps mirrors early iPhone comics apps which sailed to the top of the charts when first introduced.
But then BOOM! went ALL THE FUCKING WAY and became the very first company to make all its back issues available for download.
HALLELUJAH, GOOD-BYE LONGBOXES! But not LongBox — see below.)
¶ Graeme McMillan interviewed Comixology’s David Steinberger for Techland on the success of their program:
Something that I feel has been happening, particularly with the Boom! and Marvel apps, has been that comiXology has been really coming to the forefront in terms of digital comics and digital comics distribution.
Yeah, it certainly seems as if we’ve innovated enough in the space, and with our connections to retailers, we’ve gotten a lot of publishers behind us and, you know, we’ve been in the top ten iPhone app books for the last ten months. On the iPad, we’ve been top ten since launch. We have the biggest audience, we’ve innovated faster than any of our competitors, we’re the first ones to have true multiplatform – outside of some beta testing you may have seen out there. I think that we’re proving to have some value to these publishers, and I think that we do our best to be really good partners to the publishers, to let them experiment. I think it’s been working quite well.
Much more in the link of vital import.
BUT THAT WAS NOT ALL!!!!!
In terms of the content providers, we don’t have the kind of gating that Apple has. As an independent creator, it’s very difficult to get anything onto iTunes. iTunes doesn’t have a [comics] reader built into it, and it is not built to handle a large mass of sequential images. If you have Blankets or Bone, your experience purchasing that through iTunes and then having a third-party reader to read it is not going to be exactly enjoyable. We really want to keep that experience as clean and focused as possible.
¶ Gating? What’s that you say? Yes, even as the iPad was seemingly the savior of the comics industry, it turned out it was just another Big Brother with VERY mercurial approval procedures. The iPad made news this week as not one but two apps were rejected for “inappropriate material” — one of them an adaptation of the classic literary work Ulysses by James friggin’ Joyce and the other a gay version of another piece of classic literature, The Importance of Being Ernest.
Chris Butcher does the heavy lifting this time with a great timeline of who and what, but we’d like to draw your attention to this incredibly excellent piece by Charles “Zan” Christensen that shows a bit of a double standard for the old sex and violence:
Kick-Ass is a comic from Marvel Comics’ ICON imprint that is famously ultra-violent, and which was recently made into a feature film. The preview images from the book show that it clearly contains graphic language, situations and nudity. Not only is the book available for purchase through iVerse with Apple’s approval, it does not appear to have been censored at all.
So yes, basically we are dealing with a weird, reactionary and mysteriously uptight delivery system as our future. We remember TWO YEARS AGO when we first ran across an example of an iPhone rejecting an app for inappropriate political content for reasons about as clear as America’s game-winning goal being called back earlier today.
At that time, the publisher wanted the whole thing kept quiet, but now it’s clear that publicizing these silly decisions is the only way to bring some pressure to bear on keeping Apple honest.
Or, as Butcher put it:
Are we really prepared to hand over the keys to the digital kingdom to a company that has to be aggressively shamed into behaving well?
¶ Finally, the whole war against piracy set sail an armada of tall ships aimed with cannons and muzzle-loaders this week, as Brigid Alverson reports the huge manga downloading site MangaFox has taken down a bunch of Viz titles after pressure:
A MangaFox administrator announced in a forum thread that they have pulled a number of manga, and a list of deleted titles shows they are mostly from Viz Media and include the powerhouse series Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. MangaFox is one of the sites that hosts scanlations of the most recent chapters of those series, so this is quite a blow to them; fickle readers, however, will be able to find them, at least for now, on other sites.
Brigid’s story is full of awesome links and quotes from sad manga thieves, that covers the digital comics bingo card of responses.
WHEW — is that it? What else can happen???
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.