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.



  1. I don’t have an iPad and while I don’t discourage anyone else from reading comics digitally, I like having a bookshelf full of hardcovers/trades. I like leafing through my single issues now and then. My biggest problem with reading comics digitally is that while I may be able to access more titles, what happens to the individual issues once I buy them online? How many hard drives or sticks or whatever would I need to keep all my comics on. I’ve got a lot of long boxes full of comics and while they do take up space I like knowing that I’ve got all the trades of Sandman or Transmetropolitan or all the single issues of the Wally West Flash series. Buying them (or any new series) to save on a stick/disc seems like it would decrease my interest in re-reading old favorites.


    • Well, still being new to this, I’ve likely got a long way before that’s a concern that I’ll have. since it’s not like I’m planning to buy digital version of the comics, and books, that I already have. But storage already is the problem for my physical books. Heck, I switched to primarily buying trades several years go, to save space on storing single issues. But I’ve got bunch of long-boxes of books, and shelves and bookcases around the house that are full. Digital will save that, and I see myself being much more inclined to re-read old comics that I have digitally, than my physical comics. Being able to just click a button and bring up any issue I want is much easier than than having to dig through a longbox to find a particular issue, take it out of the bag & board, and read it. And, again, the joy is you can do it anywhere, if you have your iPad with you, not just @ home where your actual comics are.

      It’s the same with music. Finding a song I feel like listening to in my iTunes folder is way easier than popping in a CD, cassette, or vinyl record. And digital comics take WAY less hardrive space than your average song. I checked my music folder on my PC, that’s almost 3,000 songs, and takes up a little over 8GB. That’s nothing on my PC, and you can get a cheap speed-stick that has more space than that. So I can’t see storage space for digital comics being a problem for many years, if @ all, @ this rate.


    • You don’t need to be online, don’t even need to have the WiFi turned on, when reading on the iPad. The various apps are downloaded separately, so you just open the apps and read whichever comics you’ve already bought and downloaded. You’ll only need to turn the internet connection back on when you want to shop in the app store and buy new comics.


  2. Going back to your linked article when your kindle was new, I too love greek mythology. I got hooked on it while in middle school and it kinda lead me into reading comics.
    Now back to this blog entry. I use my mom’s kindle fire from time to time but I haven’t not gotten into the ebook craze. I still have boxes of my own comics of old that every so often I like to re-read. I haven’t bought any new comics in ages. I usually try to visit my local library for trade paperbacks a certain storylines.
    I do agree with you though, this is where the industry is going. I also agree that the costs should be reflective of the savings the publisher has to make the product but I guess that it what they will term it as PROFIT.
    Speaking of which before the 90s comic implosion, I could find a comic shop on nearly every corner, now I barely see one anywhere.
    Oh well, happy reading.


    • Yes, i think my love of Greek Mythology partially helped sparked my interest in superheroes. Two of my earliest favorite heroes are Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman, both based on Greek Mythology. And in the 90’s, there were several comic-book stores I could go to as well. There used to be one a few blocks from my old job, I could just drive up there during my lunch break, get the comics, and then make it back to work and have time to read them all before the break was over. But that store and most of the others are gone now. This is the problem. You have to go out of your way to get comics, and so only the hardcore fans are going to make that effort, but where will new fans come from? Like I said, when I was kid in Elementary school, I could just stop @ the local 7/11 on my way to, or coming back from, school. I’d also sometimes see comics for sale in various grocery stores. You don’t see that any more (well, except for those little Archie digests). So comics become more of a specialty item. But now digital distribution changes all that. Kids can walk out of the theater after just seeing Avengers or whatever, and if they want to see more of those heroes, just click a few buttons and there are some stories for them. It’s great.


    • Yep, a major improvement. This week, there weren’t even any new comics released that I wanted, but I’ve still plenty downloaded that I haven’t read yet, so I don’t mind.


  3. I think the likelihood of bringing in new readers increases if there is a substantial decrease in price. Even at $2, that’s asking a lot of a non-fan.

    Marvel has a subscription service for iPad/iPhone users (unlimited reading for $10 a month, I think) that I think will become an industry standard. Or at least it needs to. This would allow digital comics to occupy the same space as cable television and internet movie rentals.


    • Well, I think any kind of subscription service would have to cover all publishers, not just one particular publisher, like Marvel. Some folks may like that. But it wouldn’t be for me, I’m just not interested in enough new comics these days, as I said there were no new comics released this week that I bought, to justify paying for a monthly subscription. I’d rather just get whichever individual comics that I want. $1.99 seems fair, but perhaps .99 cents? But I’d worry about that being too low. While I think the publishers are being a tad greedy with the price of digital, I also acknowledge that there does need to be some profit, in order to pay the writer, artist, inker letterer, and colorists who make those comics.


      • It’s not an either/or situation. Think about sports, movies, music and television. All have pay for each and subscription models.

        The problem is that companies are looking for hard-core fans only. Only a hard-core “I wear the same green lantern teeshirt everyday” types will pay $4 for a comic (digital or print), but if they were it cost $0.40, just about anyone would, IF the subject matter was interesting to them.

        Sub services attract curious eyeballs more than pay-per-view. Do you think many people would watch the Kardashians if you had to pay $4 per episode? No. But I bet there are more people tuning in to that show weekly than there are reading Justice League. My wife watches shows she doesn’t even LIKE every week, because they are FREE. Well, we pay for them, but in a bundled cable subscription, so they feel free.

        Eventually, iTunes, comixology, Amazon, or some other company will figure this out and convince Marvel and DC to get in on it. Once they are on board, other publishers (including indies, if they are allowed) will follow. This WILL lead to a tidal wave of readers that will make the 90s boom look like a joke.

        If comic shops can live through the growing pains (a big if), I think they will benefit too, because I think physical books will still have a place among diehard fans.


  4. Whoa, Samax. I get your points, like I said the subscription service idea might work for some, but I can’t see being interested in something like that personally. I think prices need to be lower, but 40 cents?!? Dude, c’mon. I’m surprised to see you say that, considering how many books you’ve actually published. So you know what goes into that. 40 cents is WAY too low, even for digital. You’re gonna devalue the pruduct, and make people think it’s not worth it.

    I’ve been seeing this same argument about price arise in terms of ebooks. I’ve see authors complain about new self-published authors who sell their ebooks on Amazon for 99 cents. They say it makes readers think that’s all ebooks are worth, and that’s just not enough to make any kind of profit. I know this is where some folks will say “Then make sure your book is good enough to be worth buying,” but that misses the point.

    While price IS a big part, I think it’s been over-estimated, in terms of how it’s affected comics sales. People have been saying that with print comics since the 90’s now. But if that were all it takes, I’m sure @ least one of the major publishers would have figured it out by now, and would be dominating the charts with all of their cheap comics. But, again, speaking for myself, there were just no comics out this week that I was interested in. It wouldn’t matter how cheap they were, I just wouldn’t have bought anything.

    I think the biggest barriers are access and content. Digital distribution takes care of access. Now you don’t have to go out of your way to find and buy books, they’re right @ your finger-tips, wherever you are. Now, content, is the other thing. There needs to be more All Ages material. That doesn’t just mean “comics for kids”, but material that can be enjoyed by all age groups, and self-contained stories. No more decompression, writing for the trades. There’s less need to wait for trades anyway, with digital, since all the back issue would be readily available. If someone comes out of Iron Man 3, and is interested in checking out some Iron Man comics, they should be able to go on iPad, and just randomly download whatever the latest issue of Iron Man is, without getting part 4 of a 6-part story, with a version of the character that’s nothing like the movie version.

    And then, of course, there is price. I still think $1.99 is perfect for new comics. Maybe after 6 months back-issues can be downgraded to .99 cents.


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