Thursday, October 25, 2007

Digital Comics

I know that there are lots of people who insist that comic books should be read in their monthly "floppy" form. There are people who insist that trade paperbacks are the way of the future. I'll take digital comics.

My first foray into the medium was quite satisfying. I'd seen the collections of 40 years worth of comics for around $50.00 but I didn't want to jump all the way in that far just yet. So I picked up this Avengers disc at Borders last week and have thoroughly enjoyed it. For $10.99 (before discount) I got 100 issues of Avengers. This disc covers the issues beginning with Heroes Return (vol. 3 #1) and running all the way through New Avengers #1-25. I had read the first issues back when Kurt Busiek and George Perez were working on the title, but I hadn't yet seen any of the Bendis stuff. It's pretty entertaining! I certainly feel like I got my money's worth out of this purchase.

Basically what you get is a no-frills disc with printable .pdf files of scanned pages. So you get covers, ads, letter columns (remember those?) and everything. It was a good deal, and this weekend I'll be going back to get the Fantastic Four set. I'll probably put the larger sets on my birthday and Christmas lists for my wife to buy if she wishes.

I like this whole idea because we plan to travel when we retire, and I just can't see hauling long boxes all over the country. If I want to read comics, I'll just fire up the computer. If I want to take a comic with me somewhere to read, I'll just print one out and staple it together.

It would be great if other companies jump on this as well. I would love to dump my long boxes of Batman and Detective and just throw a couple of discs in my organizer. I'd keep about 10 comics that have sentimental value and sell the rest. I would also love to read some never-reprinted issues of Justice League of America from the 1970s. Now that I think about it, I would love to read a lot of comics that I wasn't allowed to read back in the 1970s that have never been reprinted. I've been anxiously awaiting the new Showcase Presents Jonah Hex #2 to come out. I think having Jonah's entire run collected in color on one DVD-ROM would be extremely cool.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on digital comics!


Martin said...

Jim, I've blogged about my love of digital comics. GIT Corp's 40+ years on Marvel titles are awesome collections and a great bargain for the money. My complete Iron Man collection should be arriving any day now. Oh, and if you do get into them, get the Fantastic Four/Silver Surfer combined set - you get everything in the former 44 Years of the FF plus two more years plus 200+ issues of the Surfer.

Jim McClain said...

I will do just that. I printed out a couple of sample pages from my disc last night and was pleased with the result. It basically is the size of two comic book pages printed across a standard piece of paper. Are the big set's files printable?

Michael O. said...

I love digital comics!

Come on, it's the nature of geeks to be anti-luddites. We love tech! And we love comics! This combo is better than peanut butter and chocolate! Shatner and Nimoy! Pink Lady and Jeff!

I, too, have blogged about these (as I'm sure you recall), and this is still the only way I want to read comics. I love being able to sit on on my laptop (like now) and use my wireless laptop to read comics. You're not tied to your PC. You can still be mobile. Believe me, I've done plenty of reading in as well.

I picked up the Avengers big collection at Comic-Con a couple of years back. What an amazing flashback...all those old Perez issues I used to read as as kid (complete with Sea Monkey ads!). All those horrible Milgrom ones that followed... Thanks to an eBay purchase, I'm currently reading X-Men from #94 on, reading all those issues I missed in the Claremont/Byrne run (the furthest back I ever got in back issues was #131 back in my collecting days), and I'm having a grand time.

The problem we've comic this. You mentioned wanting more companies to do this. You want to be able to go back and read those old comics you missed as a youngster. Well, you can. They're all out there, in .cbr format (much better than .pdf, in my opinion). Problem is, you can't buy them. They're free. This leads to an interesting ethical question. If someone's scanning this week's comics, the new stuff, and you could just go buy those in the store right now, then that's easy to label as stealing and wrong. However, what if a company isn't putting those issues out? Does that mean you shouldn't be able to read them until the company decides to (if ever) put them out? Or is it like TV shows that aren't on DVD yet? Right now I'm really cheesed because NBC isn't putting the show "Ed" on DVD. If I can find them to download online, I really won't have any problem getting them, because it's the company's loss if they're not smart enough to make them available for me to buy. Is it wrong, then, to download a golden age Batman issue because you're curious to read it, if DC hasn't put out all the old Bat stuff on DVD-ROM? Does that mean you have to spend the money (maybe hundreds of dollars) on a single back issue to enjoy it? And then violate the old thing by opening it to read it?

Digital comics IS the way of the future, just like MP3 files and downloadable TV shows and digital novels for your Palm Pilot. The industry has got to step up and make this available...or people will just continue to do it themselves. I was so damned happy when iTunes came out and offered a viable alternative to music theft. I want to pay for my comics! I just don't want them in paper format and piling up all over my apartment. I want a digital comic store where I can log on and pay a buck and get an old Moon Knight issue. This, of course, is the worst nightmare of local comic shops and dealers like Mile High. But I think the change is happening anyway. The industry just has to acknowledge it. There will always be guys like Tim who insist on paper comics, who prefer the tactile experience, who need to relax in their favorite chair with a stack of comics and lose themselves. Me? Digital, all the way. With each new set Marvel offers, I think others will start to take notice. I think, and I hope.

By the way...glad you discovered Bendis' Avengers. I LOVE his stuff!! Can't say I was thrilled with the way he destroyed the Avengers, but I love the way he rebuilt them. Great reads, every single issue.

Michael O. said...

Another thought--replacement.

I have every issue of Micronauts. I got on a nostalgia binge a few years ago and bought them all from Mile High. But they're up in my closet, and whenever I'd think about reading some, it would just seem like too much trouble to get them out and then have to put them back. A buddy of mine has told me he's downloaded them all in .cbr format and is going to send me a DVD with them all. Hey...guilt-free digital comics. I already bought the back issues and own 'em! I love the idea of being able to download the stuff I already have in longboxes and be able to read them without the trouble of pulling them out and without risking damaging them. At least there's one nice part of the .cbr thing.

I recently downloaded all the issues of the first series of the Ultimates. I already own 'em, as I bought 'em when they all came out. But I wanted to read them again and didn't feel like searching for them all, as they're mixed up in different bags in my closet. Simple, guilt-free solution.

This does bring up another ethical question, though. My pal Russ had once loaned me every issue of Robinson's Starman series. I had them in my apartment for, like, two years. I read about the first 15. But then I moved, and gave them back to him. If I wanted to download them all, could I just pretend that I still had the loaned ones in my possession? That I was just still borrowing them, not stealing them? Interesting conundrum...

Martin said...

Jim, the PDF files are indeed printable - though I have not done them before. I assume the set you have uses Adobe as it's reader, correct? If so, yeah they are the same all the way around.