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Is this the future?

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While all this was going on, a friend of ours happened to IM us with a link to ComicBookLover , which is apparently state of the art for reading those downloaded comics:

Boxes of comics in the garage? Or are you a more serious collector? Even if insured for the risk of theft or flood, nothing can compensate for the time spent building a collection. A digital collection won’t be the same as curling up on the sofa with a paper comic, but it will provide some comfort if you can’t afford to lose your comics.


There’s something about that picture that amuses us — whether it’s the rounded corners or orange lighting or the blinds and cables, it gives us this FORBIDDEN PLANET/Univac vibe. In other words, that photo makes it look like something powered by Gilligan on his coconut bike.

(Has anyone come up with a name for “early computing” era nostalgia? Punchcardpunk?)

We haven’t tried out this “Comic Book Lover” software yet. As we’ve mentioned many many times, we just don’t like reading full size comics pages on screen. (We had to proof an entire 88-page graphic novel on screen the other day and it was sheer hell, but that’s the way it’s done now.) Webcomics are fine, because they are sized for monitors. Sure, someday everyone is going to have 30-inch cinema display, but that day is not quite yet.

  1. Digital comics are the killer ap for TabletPCs (the lightweight notebooks with the screens that flip around and pivot 90 degrees). My ViewSonic tablet weighs about the same as a DC Archive Edution, is just the right size to present a single comic book page in full screen – and you can read it on the couch, the subway or wherever. I’m surprised (well, not really…) that a comic publisher and TabletPC maker haven’t formed some kind of deal to provide exclusive content.

  2. My biggest problem with reading comics is the scrolling you need to do. If I could just stand my monitor up on its side, it would be taller than wide and much easier to read comics with.

    That, and the occasional double page splash, are the trouble spots of reading traditional comics on-line. Forgot worrying about right page/left page separation for the trades – eliminate double page splashes now so that comics are easier to read on-line in the future!

  3. Yep, I hate the scrolling, too. Tablet PCs are certainly the way to go for reading books, but I don’t want to use a tablet PC for anything else… so, seems like more gadgetry that wouldn’t be much of a multi-tasker for me.

    ComicsLover is a great program, though I think it is too pricey. With the trial version, you get a very large watermark that can cover an entire panel. It does have a great organization interface, just like iTunes.

  4. All this talk of downloading killing comics, blah blah blah.
    Heidi I’ve been reading you online for years. I know you’re not stupid. Comics circulation has done nothing but improve for the last four ot five years running, and you’re trying to tell me downloading will kill comics? If killing comics is growth for several consecutive growth, then I’m all for shooting them square in the head.

    The changes in the music industry are not just because of downloads. The splintering of the audience causing there to be no more mega-selling artists, and the advent of the MP3 making it so people don’t have to buy the same thing for every new format are probably bigger contributors than illegal downloads. The mega music chains created an infrastructure designed to deliver Beatles and Elvis recordings to the audience whenever a new format came out (LP, 8-Track, Cassette, CD, Mini-Disc, etc etc) When those streams suddenly started running dry because people are now able to store and play digitally, the mega chains faltered. Yet lots of independent stores that are able to stock a wider breadth of unique product more effectively than a mega chain are enjoying success.

    The doomsaying here really frustrates me sometimes.

  5. Tim:

    Just to clarify, I don’t think downloading will kill comics. That is not possible. If they survived the 90s they will survive anything.

    Downloading might kill PAPER comics, or hurt them, or wound them, or dent them or something. In five years, the delivery system for comics will look nothing like it does today.

    There will, however, continue to be great comics for whatever the system it.

  6. Heidi:
    Five years? You’re on. I’ll see you at San Diego in 2012, and when my stores are still up and running, you owe me a drink. If I’m closed, I owe you one.

    The delivery systems will evolve, but the paper comic disappearing? No way. What I see happening is similar to the music industry. There will be multiple avenues of comics access, but there will be demand for all of them. The DM in particular has an advantage due to its size, it can easily shift gears accordingly to stock what people want. The music mega chains are stumbling because of their inability to adjust. In five years, if publishers are smart, I see myself selling iComics gift cards for people to go download comics. Right on the shelf next to copies of Y the Last Man TPs.

  7. One thing that isn’t mentioned often is the potential growth in comic sales due to digital comics simply making comics accessible to people, in conjunction with the addictive quality of good writing. The music industry today is focused on singles and hits, as it seems album sales are declining. If you like an artist, you’ll probably only purchase a couple of songs, rather than a couple of albums. In contrast, for the comic industry, it’s not about a single great ‘issue’ but about the ‘story’. Once a reader is hooked on a series/character/story, you have a customer for life (unless it goes completely pear-shaped). Every issue, good or bad, is intrinsic to the continuing story. Not a bad business model…

    Digital comics are incredibly popular and if artists, writers and indie publishers work together, it’s possible to build an equitable future for all parties, ensuring a diverse range of material gets published. :-)

  8. I think as far as indie pamphlet-format comics go, there will be either a switch to digital or no comics in that format at all. It just doesn’t make sense for us to publish individual print issues anymore. There’s just not enough demand in the direct market. You can see the trend toward web comics with the self-publishers with the collectives that have been forming.

    Print superhero comics in pamphlet form will stick around longer, I’m sure. But otherwise, I think those publishers not in the superhero niche will continue the trend toward graphic novels, with digital installments or digital versions of those graphic novels an additional format.

    And the gift cards… that’s something we’ve put on the list to explore.

  9. I suspect the digital comics are helping the graphic novel market. Some people are fine with reading a 22 page book once a month (or whatever) on screen, but if they decide they want to re-read the entire story line (or a trip or on a comfy couch), we’ll that’s a bit much and they buy the TPB.

  10. I think small-to-medium-size indie comic publishers may give up “pamphlets” fairly soon. I agree with Jennifer that the superhero comic will stick around in that format for a while. I’m seeing a lot more self-published comic books of the fold and staple variety than I have in a long time. Printing on demand from places like Ka-Blam have made it cost effective for a creator, or especially a small collective, to print this format.

    But the economy of scale for publishers of SLGs size, does make it reasonable that they would move to GNs only.

    I wonder how Love the Way You Love did from Oni? I thought that was perfect for a mini-series. I love the digest size. At any length.

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