Yes, I’m a grown man who still reads comic-books. Shut up.
A couple of years back I wrote about reading ebooks in WHY I LOVE MY AMAZON KINDLE. Since then, I have received an iPad, and I’ve downloaded the Kindle App, so now I read my books on my iPad instead. I still have my Kindle, but that’s just used to actually buy new ebooks, then I sync them to my iPad via the App. So, like I said, I love reading my ebooks, it is very convenient to purchase, and to store. I currently have 99 books on my iPad, and can take them anywhere and read them. The only reason I haven’t switched 100% from printed books to ebooks, is that I’m still sometimes able to find a used copy of a book on Amazon for much cheaper than an ebook. But, otherwise, it’s all ebooks for me.
However, I held off on digital comic-books, because that was still different, to me. I was still thinking in terms of my Kindle, and how reading a comic-book on my Kindle wouldn’t be the same, because the screen is much smaller, and it’s in black and white. For whatever reason, I never considered using my iPad. I guess I was just so used to buying printed comics, that I didn’t give the alternative much thought. Much like with my initial trepidation about ebooks, before I got my Kindle, I would think about digital comics as something you read on a PC. And while I’ve enjoyed various webcomics over the years, such as Drew Edwards’ Halloween Man, I always loved getting the printed versions, such as SUPERDEFORMED and HALLOWEEN MAN VS. THE INVISIBLE MAN
But then Robert Jeffrey II released his new comic ROUTE 3 #1 last month. This was only made available in digital form, so I had to buy it and download it through the comicsplus app. I did that and was reading it on my PC at home. However, I procrastinated a bit in writing a review on my blog, like I’d promised Robert, so one day I downloaded the app on my iPad, so I could reread the comic during my lunch break at work. And as I read this comic-book on my iPad, I was amazed at how similar it is to reading a comic-book printed on paper. Unlike the Kindle, the iPad screen is almost the same size as an average comic-book page, and I can zoom in on any part of the page, to view it larger, if I want to.
not my ipad
And people say things like “I like the feel of holding a book/comic in my hands”, well, holding the iPad in my hands while reading it isn’t all that much different from holding a comic-book in my hands. As I finished the comic, I was rather amazed at how natural the experience felt. So I checked out the app some more, and they had a lot of other indie comics available, including titles from Image, Dynamite, IDW, and others, and I bought a few more books. It was all so easy. You just click on the comic you want, the first book you buy after you’ve turned on your iPad you have to also enter your iPad password to confirm, and then it downloads right to your iPad. And it’s charged to your iTunes account. And ComicsPlus is very fast. So far, every book downloads in less than a minute.
Unfortunately, ComicsPlus doesn’t have DC or Marvel Comics titles for sale, so I had to download another app, Comixology, for that. And I bought some books from them that I wanted. Same process, just as easy. I will say that I have noticed that comics take a little longer to download on this app, and it seems to take longer the more books you buy at once, but we’re still just talking about a few minutes here. And then just like that, the books are all available for you to read, right there are your iPad, and you can take them and read them anywhere. Even on the toilet, just like a real comic-book!
This has seriously changed my life. It has altered almost 30 years of buying and reading comics. In a couple of days I’d ordered over 20 books, and quickly realized that there was no reason for me to buy another printed comic. Digital comics are just as good, and it is way more convenient. When new comics come out on Wednesday, if I want to go to the closest comic-book store to get them, I can only make it after work, at 5:30pm, and that adds like 40 minutes to my drive home. And I don’t buy that many new comics anymore anyway, so some weeks there may only be 1 or 2 new books that I want, and it just doesn’t feel worth making the trip. Now I don’t have to. The new books are available in the morning, I can buy the ones I want almost as soon as I get out of bed. I did that last Wednesday, got to work early, and sat in my car in the parking lot, and read one of the new comics that I’d just bought before I had to go inside at 9am. This is fantastic!
Another recent example of how much better this is is that my online friend Geoffrey Thorne has a comic that he’s written called The Journeymen, which is currently being serialized in anthology book from Dark Horse Comics called Dark Horse Comics Presents. I’d gotten issue #20, which features part 1 of his story, but I somehow missed getting issue #21, which had part 2. When I saw Geoffrey post on Facebook that issue #22, with part 3 of his story, was due out that week, I quickly went on my iPad to buy #22. Dark Horse doesn’t make their books available through the other apps, so I had to download their own Dark Horse App, but that wasn’t really a problem. Once I had it, it was the same process. Click on the issue you want, wait a minute, and voila! There it is! You can start reading, just like that! Under normal circumstances, I would have either waited until Wednesday to go to the store and see if they had the current issue and the previous issue that I missed or, more likely, as I usually did when buying back-issues, I would have gone to a site like midtowncomics.com, and ordered a copy of #21 and pre-ordered #22 along with it, and I would have had to pay for shipping, and then wait an extra week for the books to arrive in the mail. But not anymore. Thanks to my trusty iPad, that is a thing of the past.
Yep, as far as I’m concerned, my days of buying printed comics are pretty much over. Unless it’s a comic that’s self-published, or from a really small indie publisher, or it’s an older book that’s just not available digitally yet (I’ve looked for some old stuff that I can’t find), then I’m just going to buy the digital version. This is like what happened to me when I discovered digital music. Now I only buy CD’s if it’s some rare older album, or I do also like to buy the physical CD’s of STACY CLARK’S music because I like to get her autograph on the CD when I see her perform live, but otherwise, I just buy the digital version. It saves lots of space, in terms of storage, and I can take them with me anywhere. I currently have 68 comics all stored on my little iPad.
not my ipad
Just the shelf-space I’m already saving with this already makes it worth it. The only downside is that I suppose it would be a little easier if there was just one app I needed to be able to get books from all publishers, like being able to go to iTunes to get most music. But that’s really a teeny inconvenience, which is more than off-set by the time I save not having to physically go to a store to buy my comics. It also doesn’t make sense to me that new digital comics cost exactly the same as printed comics. Really, that’s just being greedy. If a printed comic costs $3.99, shouldn’t the digital version cost half that, at most? Why am I paying the same? For me, I’m still happy just for the convenience of access, but I think this is the type of greed on the part of the publishers that makes pirates feel more justified in just illegally downloading the comics for free. I don’t do that and don’t think that’s a good excuse, but I know that plenty of people do. The prices tend to drop off a couple of months later, so a new comic will be full price on the week of release, but then when the next issue comics out it may drop to $1.99, and then later to .99 cents, but I still don’t think that’s good enough. I think there needs to be an industry-standard price for digital. Like say the average 22-page comic should automatically be $1.99. That seems fair to me.
So I believe that this is the wave of the future. Just as with ebooks, there will always be hold-outs, especially among the older readers, who will never embrace digital, and will stick with print. But the younger generations that are coming up, being raised on computers, won’t have that same connection to the format and will prefer the ease that digital provides.
In fact, I believe the convenience of digital will bring new fans into the hobby. Now, as more and more people discover superheroes through the movies and cartoons, it will be easier to get comics based on those same characters, via devices like the iPad.
And I know there are those who will read these and ask “but what about the retailers? This is hurting them!” Well, yes. Yes, it will. Comic-book retailers have already suffered in the past couple of decades, hence why I have to go out of my way to go to the nearest comic-book store, unlike when I was in Elementary school and could just stop at 7/11 on my way home from school and buy new comics from their spinner-rack. And just like music stores, book stores, and video stores have been going out of business, as more people get their entertainment online, the same will continue to happen with comic-book stores. It sucks for the store owners, but so be it. As technology changes, so do the industries that support them. A lot of horse-sellers went out of business when people started driving cars, too. Not to sound cruel, but that’s progress.
Just my opinion.