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We’ve had our Tricorder, a.k.a. iPhone, for a couple of weeks now, and despite its hefty price tag and hefty data plan, we can’t imagine going back to a world where we don’t sleep with it beneath our pillow every night. There’s a growing sense that the iPhone will be the killer platform for downloading and reading comics in a portable, esthetically pleasing form. Cartoonist Sherm Cohen has even started a new blog devoted to reading comics on iPhones. His earliest experiments were somewhat inconclusive, but that is sure to change:

Good idea, but when I viewed the comic pages on the iPhone, I found them to have been magically degraded in resolution…so much that images were too blurry to comfortably read. What gives? Turns out that the iPhone automatically “optimizes” (=ruins) the images when you import them. No workaround for this yet.

PDF files don’t get degraded when you import them into your iPhone, but the iPhone needs a native PDF reader even more than it needs a comic book reader application. The only way to get a PDF file into your iPhone right now is to email it to yourself and read it as an attachment. I don’t want to wait for a 35Mb download over the iPhone’s bandwidth. Not a viable solution IMHO.


BTW, at the Comic Book Visionaries panel at San Diego, Grant Morrison stated that you can’t take computers into the bath[room]. Duty compels us to tell you that FMB also got an iPhone, and has already proven that is just not true.

1 COMMENT

  1. What is the mania for reading books or comics on viewscreens? I can understand if the idea is to get the content cheaper, but I don’t get the genuine fetish for replacing perfectly viable formats with an electronic substitute.

    Mike

  2. Well…. you wouldn’t want to wipe your ass with a $199 cellphone…

    However, I find my cellphone to be very convenient for looking up stuff when I can’t get to a desktop or library. I’ve also used the Internet to try things I’ve heard about.

    I don’t have access to my Zot! trade paperbacks, but I can read the first 60-some pages of the new collection on BN.com.

    It’s just another way to access information. Whether it presents that information in a convenient legible way… that’s a matter of opinion.

    And I’m sure, back in the 1930s, there were people who complained about reading comicstrips in a bound magazine format. Grumbling about it destroyed the daily narrative of the artform. How it destroyed the daily cliffhanger of story strips. How it allowed readers to absorb a large amount of strips in a short amount of time without the ability to savor the jokes. How the popularity of comicbooks turned the artform into a commodity, fostering hack writing and artwork on a public eager for the latest four-color morphine.

    Soon… you will enter your bathroom, and your iphone, using GPS, echolocation, and other clues, will suggest bathroom-themed ads while you read the latest blog.

  3. “And I’m sure, back in the 1930s, there were people who complained about reading comicstrips in a bound magazine format.”

    Actually, I bet there weren’t…because there simply wasn’t a comic subculture to obsess about such things.

    Mike

  4. “Why on earth would I replace my lovely wax cylinder collection with these ridiculous shellac discs? The artificiality of this new format utterly destroys the intangible, existential joys of music!”

  5. Previous changes in format were almost always accompanied by significant improvements in presentation. What are the presentation advantages of the viewscreen vs. the printed page? For comics, it’s usually smaller and the quality of the image can’t be much better, so what’s the advantage?

    Mike

  6. Yow what is wrong with Beat posters today! Did you all take 1987 pills or something? Are we REALLY going to argue digital vs analog?

    RESOLVED: that paper books and comics are never going to go away completely but new generations will find digital delivery of same — OR EVEN NEW, HYBRID FORMATS THAT WILL BE BASED ENTIRELY ON THE ERA OF DIGITAL LITERACY — completely natural and will be able to integrate this system into their every day lives with no difficulty WHATSOEVER.

  7. I’m waiting till they come out with an iPhone that works…I hear Little Jimmy Norton (on Opie and Anthony) throw his against a wall cause it’s a piece of Steve Jobs shit. He’s had more issues the last year or two with the iPhone. He gets the new one recently and he had more problems. He’s gone through three phones in a year with him losing his connections…for those who listen to the show you know this as well.

    So that’s a good enough reason for me to wait for something better.

  8. “RESOLVED: that paper books and comics are never going to go away completely but new generations will find digital delivery of same — OR EVEN NEW, HYBRID FORMATS THAT WILL BE BASED ENTIRELY ON THE ERA OF DIGITAL LITERACY — completely natural and will be able to integrate this system into their every day lives with no difficulty WHATSOEVER.”

    Uh, who said otherwise? My point was to wonder at the nerdgasms folks have about reading comics on a viewscreen, let alone a tiny viewscreen, when there doesn’t seem to be significant advanatages to the electronic format.

    Price would be an obvious advantage. I’ll even grant that downloading the latest issue could be an advantage over going to the comic shop or even having it mailed to you. But neither of those potential improvements would seem to outweigh what you lose when you try to view a Kirby splash page or one of Watchmen’s 9 panel grids on an iPhone screen.

    Mike

  9. “I’m waiting till they come out with an iPhone that works…I hear Little Jimmy Norton (on Opie and Anthony) throw his against a wall cause it’s a piece of Steve Jobs shit. He’s had more issues the last year or two with the iPhone. He gets the new one recently and he had more problems. He’s gone through three phones in a year with him losing his connections…for those who listen to the show you know this as well.”

    That’s interesting, for the last year (iPhone has only been available for a little over a year), I’ve provided support for just under 2 dozen employees of a business client that use the iPhone every day. Only 3 had any problems whatsoever, one was a Blackberry acolyte and could never reproduce a single one of his “issues” while I was working with him, the second has a nasty tendency to destroy every piece of technology that he touches, he’s gone through 3 laptops in 2 years, and the third just didn’t like the iPhone, which I considered the most reasonable excuse. So I’m going to trust my own experiences using the iPhone and supporting it’s use, over the Opie and Anthony show. But if I ever need to get my employer fined by the FCC, I know where to tune into.

  10. Wait for the new tech where the screen rolls out like a window shade… or notebooks become smaller and lighter than an issue of Vogue.

    Both the Kindle and the Sony reader do a nice job in black-and-white. We’ll see what happens…

  11. Really, digital comics are like digital stream video (specifically what’s on YouTube): true, it’s low quality… and it’s not the same experience that you get in a home theater… but if it’s FREE, users will embrace it.

    Collectors will still buy the bound books, but as printing and shipping costs continue to rise, publishers need new ways to interest the casual reader. Digital comics are perhaps this decade’s best shot at doing that very thing.

  12. I agree with Travis. And instead of resisting the future, I say embrace it and let’s see where it takes us.

    And about reading comics in the washroom, with my Nokia (iPhone killer), I can read my comics there too…

  13. “Yow what is wrong with Beat posters today! Did you all take 1987 pills or something? Are we REALLY going to argue digital vs analog?”

    Repeat: Did you all take 1987 pills or something?

    Someone should start a “snark of the day” blog where the snarkiest comments are posted without context. Just a link back.

    This would win Aug 5, 2008.

    I do hate one panel size comics, ever so much, but The Beat is right… this is just a matter of time. In terms of things I’m worried about… I’m worried that people will quit drawing by hand more than I’m worried that paper comics will go away. I assume that they will figure out ways to make me happy reading comics on computers, but if all comics are made using computers Hulk will grumble and be melancholy.

  14. There’s no way that’s true. The iPhone never used to be anywhere like that. I am aged enough to remember the very first like that had mouse recognition and two clickable buttons, nevermind all this new stuff they have now.