ORION IS BACK with his comics column, Going Digital!

7 Oct
Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...

R.I.P. And thanks for the iPad. (Image via Wikipedia)

Hey everyone, Mike here. Orion is the master of obscure comics knowledge (check out Mr. District Attorney below) – he’s that guy who can spot every bit of fan-service in episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I love the fact that there are comics fans who are into the weird and obscure stuff, and that’s why I agree with him that we need to make that stuff more cheap and available ASAP! Check out Orion’s words of wisdom, and let us know in the comments what you think:

Going Digital: Building the Comics Fandom Trinity

and other Weird Ideas.

NOTE: Update posted here.

Yay, comics are still around!

Thank you Amazon, for bringing the Kindle Fire while working with ComiXology and DC Comics to release 100 graphic novels at a cheap price to a new generation of potential readers. Meanwhile, the rest of us comic die-hards who have read Watchmen will express our excitement and opinions regardless of the deal. Yay, comics!

But, is that enough to make actual comic books (not comic-based films, TV, games) popular and great again?

I suppose we are on the way. Image Comics recently announced most of its new comics titles as same day (as print) available on digital download via Comixology and Graphic.ly. Also via Facebook, Graphic.ly plans to make their downloads available, making Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker now something we can “Like.” The new DC 52 will continue its same-day availability since its launch, for new readers to access an entire new generation of DCU continuity, possibly without ever touching paper. And Marvel will add a free digital download with purchase of its print version of Avenging Spider-Man #1, which will be…interesting (at least for comic store dealers).

But is that enough? No, not really.

Because the idea of comic books as a popular form of mainstream entertainment needs to go beyond the converted remains of the current fandom. I like to think we have completed one part of three, of this digital comics renaissance. We need three types of fanboy support and emphasis, a cheesy trinity thing.

Mr. District AttorneySo, here be the second part…our need of Mr. District Attorney.

Or rather, that and other comic book classics from our rich, exciting history of decades past. Not just the first appearances and top popular books or stories, that won’t cut it. Included in the excitement and fun of reading comics are the fans who love vintage EC, Charlton, MAD, Dell, Gold Key, and odd titles like Super Goof, Night Nurse, Rex the Wonder Dog. Let’s have an entire library’s worth of what’s already out there, accessible to the regular folk looking to seek and download legally. Get the scanners and the cheap labor together so we can pan this comic gold.

The reason for this madness is to make such work cheap and inexpensive to those who simply want to appreciate, not spend outrageous amounts of money in the process. ComiXology had done a fantastic job with the 99 cent Marvel and DC special sales as they add added many Silver Age classics to the digital pool. IDW also offers the classic Gold Key Star Trek, as well as other licensed properties reprints (Doctor Who, Transformers). Perhaps, this new non-price-oriented fandom will unearth a new wave of nostalgia and appreciation for comics history, for fans of old and new.

Will this oversaturate the digital comics market? Never! Though, maxing out storage space or the individual spending limits may dilute the reading spirit. Perhaps, we should apply a Netflix instant style model to the digital downloading of comics. Have some amazing library available to readers at the cost of a subscription or ad backing. This could be an awesome way to collect massive amounts of series, otherwise nearly lost to obscurity for a lack of support in print by dealers. The browsing could lead to curiosity as it did with me back in my yesterdays of quarter bin damaged discounts.

Middle Man 1 coverThen, the final part of the trinity…the independents, small press, underground.

The best comic stores are the ones that do not hide their small press. The independents, delivered by small or self-publishers, starting on their own dimes. Without them we could have never stumbled upon such pop culture wonders like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Men in Black, or Maus.

Many of us would be surprised to see how much is already is available on digital, especially on the iPad. But simple searching for them can be confusing, misleading, time consuming (soon, I hope to produce a guide on digital comics sourcery). Now that the cost of print is no longer a factor, perhaps there should be a way for the larger, more successful digital publishing giants (like ComiXology, Comics+, Graphic.ly) to invite them in, perhaps add to their inventory, then have perhaps promote them by highlighting, suggestions, or some sort of “genius” feature. Or we could separate all comic apps and works from the books by giving them their own own category.

That would be asking too much.

Maybe we should not count on the comics industry to make the hobby whole again. Just in keep in mind when browsing the digital frontier of comics for the popular, show some love to the other two main areas of sequential art; the classic and the unfamiliar.

UPDATE: Barnes & Noble has responded to DC’s Amazon Kindle Fire deal – more here.

Orion Tippens loves comics, writing, and travel, and hosts his own blog at captainipad.blogspot.com.

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4 Responses to “ORION IS BACK with his comics column, Going Digital!”

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