GOING DIGITAL: Killing Me Softly with Free Comics

21 Oct

by Orion Tippens

Image representing Comixology as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase

Don’t make me laugh, two Free Comic Book Days in 2012?

I’m not trying to kill the fun here. I love free comics, or free anything really. I just think every day should be Free Comic Book Day.

Many of us already get our “free comic days” when hitting those big comic conventions gathering samples, direct from various companies. I loved even more back in the ’90s when issues of Wizard magazine contained those bonus comics and samples. More so than now, many comic stores I frequented had many free samples of comics for the taking. Those were the days and places when free comics were just,.. there.

But now, free seems more like a privilege than a gift. Please comment below if I’m wrong or right about the following concerning your local comic store: I think most modern stores miss the point of Free Comic Book Day. I’ve attended many FCBDs at participating stores in multiple cities over the last several years, and I noticed they often limit the grab to just one or two comic books. At two stores, if I purchased something then I was allowed one more. Such a choice leaves many of us, including children, to go with the most popular one, usually a movie tie-in. Less popular indie titles will probably get ignored, or not even ordered. Considering each book cost the dealer a small fraction of a dollar, is this the best way to promote or a big waste of money?

Image representing Graphicly as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

But there is a magical place where Free Comic Book Day is every day, universal, and you can sample all that’s available?  This amazing comics candy land is everywhere on our digital devices.

Yes, on your smart-phones, e-readers, tablets, laptops, netbooks, desktops. It’s all there, and I don’t mean via illegal means. I refer to publisher-released digital books on direct sites and multi-company apps like ComiXology, Comics+, Graphicly, etc. Free comics are yours for the taking and they do not care how destitute you appear, your terrible choices, how much you grab. It’s all for the sake of reading, sharing, and perhaps spending future money on promoted titles. Meanwhile, I think comic book stores just want you in their store. The exposure and penny pinching kindness may be enough.

Everybody likes Free! That's why they call it ...

Image by andyi via Flickr

Online, there is some good stuff including Fear Itself: The Fearless #0 (54-page Marvel crossover tie-in), Beyond the Fringe #1 (story based on TV show written by Joshua Jackson), DC Comics Sneak Peeks (weekly samples of weekly DC titles). Image turns it up a notch by offering 1st issues of current popular titles including Chew, Invincible, and The Walking Dead. Dig deep through the ComiXology app and get both collected editions of Unknown by Mark Waid and Minck Oosterveer, Amazing Spider-man  v.2 #36 (the 9-11 tribute), Detective Comics #27 (first Batman, and more for free.

Overall, there is the temptation of the digital free comic. It’s easy to get hooked after your first hit. Now, start your collection with the one, then three, than so many offered in the future. Next is to perhaps start an account with the digital service, if you have not already. If your eyes have adjusted to the colorful digital screen of your wonderful screen outlet, then those eyes are ready for the real deal – paying for digital comics. Just take out your credit card, or input that iTunes password.

And, digital business does not discriminate towards any buyers, nor do they look down upon select ones because their weirdness is on a different level. We online folk are anonymous in our purchases and what we take for free. Digital services don’t have scheduled open/close hours. They never deal with external problems like rent hikes, broken air conditioners, or a lack of soap in the bathroom. Furthermore, there is no familiar stereotype Comic Book Guy, whom many consider a symbol of alienation towards those unfamiliar with such alternative pop-culture. Meanwhile, the technology to read them is getting thinner, lighter, and perhaps cheaper.

Not hating on comics stores, they just need to change and adapt. How does a comic store store survive in this rising digital era? How can a comic store even coexist or even take advantage of this online presence? Should the printed industry care about the store outlets as long as digital comics put better food in the mouths of creators and publishers?

I would love to hear your answers, and I will propose a few crazy ideas of my own for another day, here at ADC.

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

5 Responses to “GOING DIGITAL: Killing Me Softly with Free Comics”

  1. The Hook October 24, 2011 at 05:30 #

    I have no idea where the Digital Age really menas for comic fans; I just hope and pray comic stores survive in some recognizable form.


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