So many news stories and essays are coming across our desk that deal with downloadable comics, internet copying and getting your entertainment for free, that we’ll be devoting most of today’s posting to that topic. Not that we have any answers. Downloading reached critical mass many years ago, and every time we walk by the empty halls of what once was our Mecca on Earth, Tower Records, we see the power of digital downloads.

To get things started, we’re going to run a POLL! How exciting is that? (It’s VERY exciting since we’re not sure if it’s going to work or not!) Vote

How much do you like reading comics on your computer?

I like it BETTER than paper!
Pixels or pulp — doesn’t matter to me as long as it’s Bendis!
Only in an emergency.

View Results

Poll powered by Free Polls


  1. Someone needs to write a better program that fits comics to any screen better. Mayhaps in a half page at a time, or panel at a time layout.

    The only things I’ll read through downloads are things that I can’t buy.

    Miracle Man comes to mind. But it makes me feel guilty. Rest assured I will throw my money at Mr. Moore and Mr. Gaiman once that’s in publication again.

    (I also read Len Wein’s Blue Beetle run as a download. Sadly I don’t think it’ll ever be reprinted).

    But no doubt, Paper is better.

  2. I love paper too, but it’s getting so darned expensive…

    I haven’t started downloading comics, but I’ve considered it.

    Part of it is being older and remembering how many comics I could buy with only $4, that it’s a stunner to pick up the latest issue of Avengers and see that it’s $3.99! That’s a lot of money for an incomplete story (or maybe I should start thinking of them as only chapters of a bigger story). I used to spend $40 a week or so on comics and get a pretty good haul and some pretty good variety, but now $40 of comics seems a lot less satisfying. Plus with $40 I could take my family out for dinner or get the kids some clothes… suddenly getting a small stack of some potentially un-fun comics doesn’t seem like such a priority anymore.

    About a month or so ago, my local multi-media store (F.Y.E.) sold a bunch of their comic stock off for a buck a book and it was like the old days. I got 23 books for about $23 and I got a pretty decent mix of stuff. The following week I went to my local comic store and picked up $25 worth of books and felt really dissatisfied and cheated. I felt like I wasn’t getting the bang for my buck that I felt I should have.

    I felt like such an old person, remembering what it was like in the old days. It was yet another time I suddenly understood where my parents were coming from.

  3. I love the CDisplay program, and think it works wonders, but the experience is completely different. Nothing beats reading a paper comic. Reading a .cbz file or whatever is like skimming through a website. It doesn’t… absorb as well as a paper comic.

  4. @Bill Reed

    I agree that there are intrinsic differences between a paper comic and a digital comic, but I think that you have been trained to prefer those differences (maybe trained is the wrong word…)

    I think the generation coming up now will have no problems reading comics on their portable iTabs (or whatever the killer pda/laptop of the future is.)


  5. Bill, you should check out the Flashback offerings. They are in the same aspect ratio as a computer monitor, very much unlike normal comics. It makes a world of difference.

  6. Maybe I am just being nostalgic in my old age (33!) but I prefer paper. If I had to resort to staring at my computer screen to read a comic book (which would be akin to just surfing the web), I might as well switch to more engaging computer viewable content, such as watching DVDs or playing video games.

    However, I must admit that the price point is getting ludicrous. Supposedly, it is due in part to the better paper and better printing, but quite frankly I didn’t mind the regular newsprint back we had back in the dim past of 1985.

  7. Wow, that’s some happenstance. You start this poll, I just started a series of interviews with Digital Comics Groups on my podcast, Comics Radar. I interviewed Steve Wieck, from DriveTHru Comics. I personally think digital comics are a completely different beast. They’re going to appeal to a different audience. But for me, who just wants to read a good story, I’ll jump on digital downloads in an instant, especially once they make me a handy portable reader, and to be honest, my moto q is just about a perfect reader for me, except when they have the huge splashes. give me something like this, just about the size of a digest graphic novel, and I’m set to go.

    If you want to listen to the interview, and get a couple discounts codes to try out Drivethru Comics, go to

  8. Is this poll biased? There´s no way to know the profiles of the people voting. What´s the age/economic range of the people voting? Obviously, there are a lot of factors to consider. It´s a really interesting concept though.

  9. The huge advantage that comics always has had going for them is that they were fun little self-contained stories that were dirt cheap and available everywhere. Now they are arguably none of those things. I think that can be reclaimed somewhat with downloadable comics.

    The thing is that people want to bitch and moan about online piracy, but in a lot of cases it is the audiences now having the power to create the way they want their product. The companies only need to wise up and figure out a way to meet that demand instead of lashing out at their own customers because they are afraid to make that leap.

  10. I’ll be honest, Kristy, once in a while i have to do some research and it’s simply more practical to download a comic. For me that’s an emergency.

  11. I’ve bought a few digital comics, mostly b/c i wanted to try the series and either hadn’t seen it in real life, or didn’t want to risk a full 3 bucks on it. I prefer CBRs to PDFs, but prefer reading a physical book to digital.

  12. I like reading BRIEF comics on-screen; every day I read DOONESBURY and THE DEVIL’S PANTIES; and Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays I read the latest one-page installment of GIRL GENIUS. That’s it. When the collections for these strips come out I buy them to have the hard copy to read again and again. Reading more than a page or two at a time online drives me crazy!

  13. i read lots of comics that are made to for the web but over all i am not a fan a reading full comics online or downloading them. i like to be able to see the full page layouts and spreads that are truncated by screen size and resolution. i also worry about color reproduction (mac vs pc they still have color and contrast issues)

    i like to experience things in the medium that they were meant to be seen in.

  14. In a perfect world… I’d rather have BOTH. I wouldn’t want an “either / or” situation.

    But in the world of reality…. paper is so expensive that those who DO support it are being strip-mined to hold up a huge chunk of the industry.

  15. There’s room for both paper and digital downloads. Just because music is available for download doesn’t mean CD sales have dried up. Some people still want the jewel case, CD w/art, and a paper insert. Some of us just want the music and prefer not having to store more crap in our living rooms. I’m one of the latter. Heck, I’ve even stopped making DVD purchases except for on rare occasion, and even then it generally has to be under $10 or I won’t buy it.

    Comics publishers have to face the facts: prices are high, production costs are going up, and the market is hurting. The reason we see so many #1 issues and crossovers is because those books boost sales, at least, for a time. Then sales drop off, sometimes alarmingly quick. Just look at sales numbers over at CBR.

    There’s an audience out there that will read comics if they’re not $3 or more a book and they don’t have to drive out of their way to some dark (some), intimidating (to some) comic shop. Let’s not forget that many areas don’t have comic shops. Some shops are an hour or more away. What about those readers? Sure, there’s online retailers, but shipping is also getting increasingly expensive. Even with the discounts online, unless you buy a bulk of books, it’s just not saving you any money. Comics are meant to be read. So why not seek out other methods of distribution? There will ALWAYS be a market for the paper products. But seriously, in today’s comics where stories are in many cases written in arcs, or “written for the trade” I see the future of comics leading down the path to paper trades and hardcover collections, and monthly downloads. Now I prefer reading paper copies, but if I can get half off or more ($.99 per download, ala iTunes) then I’ll gladly go digital because I want to read stories. Monitors are becoming cheaper and of higher quality all the time. The time is coming when we’re going to see a major shift and I don’t believe it’s very far away.

    And by the way, Drive Thru Comics is too high, IMO. I’ll pass. Pullbox Online is the best I’ve seen so far, but the major publishers are missing at the moment.