Digital Comics vs. Regular Comics the Sequel: Comic Book Grrl Strikes Back!


Hey guys!

The Digital vs. Regular comics debate rages on over on my previous post, but I’m back to address some of the issues that came up.

EXCELLENT posts by everyone! Sorry I can’t get back to everyone personally, but between Twitter, the blog, and Plants vs. Zombies I don’t have that much spare time.

Check out the top 5 questions below from you, my fellow comic book super-nerds and faithful Twitter followers and friends:

1. (logan) “i think that digital comics are a much better deal, but i still love holding a comic in my hand.”

I’ve had several people DM me on Twitter about this. YES, I AGREE. Holding a comic rocks. It’s how we all started, and it’s what we all know and love. But familiarity and attachment to the known are just comforts because we fear change.

The world is changing whether you like it or not. If you don’t embrace it, one day you’ll end up like your Great Aunt Maude who’s afraid of the microwave, and doesn’t understand how the spooky voices come out of that new-fangled hand held talking device.

But like I said in my previous post: you trade convenience and price for the newly-minted comic feeling in your hand.

(logan cont.) “but as i see comic prices increasing (4 BUKS!!!!) and my wallet decreasing, it seems like ill be buying a lot of digital comics in the near future.”

$4 is outrageous for a digital comic. $1 – $2 is sufficient, and at that price you’d get more readers, each purchasing far more comics.

There are already studies from the Kindle showing that a user will buy more books at a lower price if they have the device (so they essentially spend the same, but get more value and convenience). Same will be true for comics online.

2. mathias http://dreamhive.blogspot.com/ “yet in your calculation you fail to include the initial investment of a reading device: iPhone, iPad, desktop etc”

Well, let’s face it, everyone already HAS a computer. And not many people will buy a tablet or iPad JUST for consuming comics (although it’s not a bad investment).

What I’m saying is that the buyer doesn’t have to adapt his spending habits based on the comic industry – hardware, like the iPad, is just inherently better for comic reading.

And they’re expensive as hell right now, but one day (sooner than you think) these devices will be so cheap you’d be silly NOT to get one.

3. Randall http://mojo-wire-productions.blogspot.com/ “You include gas. Shouldn’t you include the money you spend on internet service or 3G”

Again, you’re already ON the Internet (unless…how are you reading this? You must have some new superpower!)

That’s like saying you have to factor in the cost of your rent if you buy a new TV. You’re still living there and paying rent whether you get the TV or not – you’re not renting a condo JUST to accommodate a TV and nothing else.

4. Glen Thoughts http://twitter.com/GlenThoughts “You need to bring a friend along for your trips. Your comic outing than turns into a comic-adventure. I’ve got scientific proof as well, and a prestigious high-school background in mathematics.”

Agreed. The comic store is fun.

I love going with friends, meeting people there, chatting with the natives…except that with little downtime and a busy schedule, I can’t do it on a regular basis.

When digital comics become the standard for single issues, many people (including myself) will still buy the trade paperbacks. Comic stores will still survive by selling these, as well as all sorts of other stuff like t-shirts, cards, collectibles, Warhammer, etc.

5. R.H Rusef http://blog.rhrusef.com/ “Digital comics are the wave of the future for so many reasons, but the main one is that the internet is democratic while comic shops are generally fascist, at least to a new customer.”

I’m not sure if I follow your logic of calling comic stores fascist, or even generally unfriendly (here in Canada the nicest people I ever meet are always in a comic store or at a comic convention).

HOWEVER, they are certainly middle-men.

If I had a comic you loved, and said you could buy a digital copy with all sorts of concept art, original sketches and bonus content for $2, and you can get it NOW online, would you go for it?

Now I take that same comic you love, print it into a book, give it to a distributor, get it to a retailer, add their profit margins, taxes, bags and boards, etc. and now would you want to drive somewhere, several weeks later, to pay $4+ instead?

I can’t wait to read the comments! Keep them coming…

Love you guys –

Blake  xo

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6 Responses to Digital Comics vs. Regular Comics the Sequel: Comic Book Grrl Strikes Back!

  1. mathias says:

    and we love you too!!!

    great summary and replies – keep it up, this is interesting!!

    m

  2. celettu says:

    I live in Belgium, and when I studied in Brussels, our capital, it was rather easy for me to get comics, because I found the one (1!) good comic shop in the city. I saved up my allowance money, went “downtown” every Wednesday, and enjoyed my Savage Dragon and others. The shop owner was gay, which might explain why the shop was rather big, well-lit, and comics were nicely ordered. It certainly explained why the owner flirted with me every time I visted…
    Even then, I had to cut back on comics more on more because prices seemed to be skyrocketing. I remember at the end following much less series then at the beginning.

    Then I moved, and started making my own money. Price became even more of an issue, as was finding a good comic shop. In the end, I didn’t. I found a small, dark hole somewhere that seemed to sell comics on a base of “If I have it, you can buy it. If not, tough.” I missed every one in two issues, and had to pick those up in a shop in Brussels or Bruges, 80 or 160 miles away respectively, not much by American standards, but in Belgium, that’s the other side of the country. And anyway, I shouldn’t have, because I preordered those comics and, apart from Ultimate X-Men, I didn’t get them regularly.

    In the end, the holes in my comic book collection became bigger and bigger and I stopped buying comics all together.

    Now, let’s look at my book buying habits. I hardly read anything in Dutch, because most of the books here are translated anyway. I visit the UK 2 or 3 times a year though, and I always bisit every Waterstones and WH Smith I can find. I LOVE browsing the book-shops, buying 10 to 20 books, and I’m 100% I’ll continue doing that.
    And I’ll still buy myself a Kindle in the next months. The complete Sherlock Holmes for less than 4 bucks? The complete Shakespeare? The complete Jane Austen? I want those!
    I know there are books I’ll want as regular books. Terry Pratchett, Simon Scarrow, Richard Harris, Ian Rankin…those are just too good not to have on the shelf. But there are others I love reading, but I tend to only read them once. Clive Cussler, and those Jack Reacher novels, and Wallander…they take up a LOT of space. Pure Kindle-material.

    I don’t know why I’m willing to pay for digital books while I don’t see myself paying for digital comics. One of the problems at the moment is that pirates are doing a better job of making them at the moment. They’re high-quality, in a uniform format, and the collection is huge. Marvel boasts having over 5000 titles available? Add a couple of zeroes to that and you have what’s available illegally…
    Also, what’s on offer is scattered. If I want comics by DC, Marvel, Image, Boom, Dark Horse, IDW, and Dynamite (and I don’t know if that’s even possible), don’t I need 7 different accounts? A project like Comixology looks absolutely brilliant, but what if I don’t have an Apple device, but an Android one? Or what if I don’t want to read comics on a handheld but rather on my desktop?

    In short, I think some kind of central Digital Comic book database/shop is a brilliant idea. I also think it doesn’t exist yet.

    San (belgiansan on twitter)

  3. Phill Evans says:

    Hi Blake,
    This realy is a good topic, I’ve been thinking about it a fair bit the last few days.

    I read *dozens* of online web comics which are, pretty much, free to the reader. his has become a bit of an obsession to the point that I rarely buy paper or even downloadable strips these days. I have been thinking what it is about the web comic format that appeals to me so much.

    In brief, I think that it is the universal availablity of the format. To get a website going you need a modicum of web knowledge and the commitment to the medium to create an ongoing narrative. All of the software required (e.g. WordPress etc…) is freely available and if the strip is popular there is even the possibility of making money through advertising or selling teeshirts etc, again with no major capital outlay. When one compares this with the exclusivity of the mainstream comics industry and the huge risks entailed in self publishing then web comics are uniquely available to story tellers in the history of comics.

    So, yay for webcomics! 🙂 My favourite? http://scarygoround.com/

    Phill

  4. Michael Roberts says:

    The two biggest down sides to digital comics are collect-ability and long term reading. Digital media has no resale value so when you drop 4 dollars on a digital comic you won’t get it back and it will not appreciate in value.

    The second sticky wicket is long term reading. I have comics from my grandfather, father, and aunt. They are readable shape. I myself read my comics years later and expect to read them decades in the future. Online storage companies don’t have proven track records for decades long storage and home made back ups are a little bit of a pain to do. If you miss a back up, you lost part of your comics. If your back ups become corrupted, you just lost all of your comics. You best bet is archiving your data but how many regular people understand the difference between archiving and backing up your data? How many people really back up their data in the first place?

    Again, online back ups and comic storage services may not make it 30 years from now. They aren’t really designed to be long term anyway as technology is expected to change.

    Basically you trade physically boxing up your comics with IT related data management. You just lose the resell value of the comics in the bargain as well as the ability to trade comics, or give them away to other people.

  5. Randall says:

    I think you neglected a lot of my, and your readers’, other points to answer the easy questions this topic raises. And even when you’re addressing, say, my silly “should you factor in the cost of internet” point [since I imagine in the same way you already have internet, you probably already have gas for your car to get… food, butter, milk, Nutella. Whatevs.], you take a lot for granted.

    In this post, what bothers me is “There are already studies from the Kindle showing that a user will buy more books at a lower price if they have the device (so they essentially spend the same, but get more value and convenience). Same will be true for comics online.” The first part, sure, I believe that. The second part I’m willing to believe for the core fanbase, the people already buying comics may buy twice as more.

    But there are also studies that show that as these e-book prices go down, the authors get significantly smaller payouts. If authors, and in the case of comics, creators and artists and writers and editors, are getting paid less [in a medium that already doesn’t pay very well], then you’re going to find less people who can produce e-materials for a living, which means less content out there to buy. And there’s absolutely no proof that readership of comics will go up when they become cheaper and e-based.

    Some would even argue that’s a content issue. And if only the big companies have the capital to offer comics at the lower prices, then you’re going to have even less new, original, non-mainstream work out there, attempting to tell stories that appeal to different kinds of readers — new kinds of readers that comics will need to sustain themselves at a lower price, whether offered online or not.

    I don’t necessarily disagree with your point about the digital medium becoming the main one for comics, but your blanket “it’s going to happen, just accept it” fails to take into consideration a lot of complexities, and I think if you’re going to herald this change you should probably try and put people’s mind to ease about these complications. To use your Great Aunt Maude example, the microwave wouldn’t have ever caught on if the people’s questions and fears weren’t answered by the earliest advertisers and proponents for the device.

  6. Charles says:

    As a former comic shop worker and a long time reader, I think the whole idea that digital will over take print is a bit mixed. I buy print books still and have yet to really buy a digital book. Why? That’s how I’ve purchased books since the early 80’s. I can see eventually taking the plunge to digital simply for two reasons. The first, its alot easier to carry around an ipad or any color ereader versus carrying around a bunch of comics. Second, storing physical copies takes up lots of space and the digital not so much.
    As for the value arguement, I got an interesting take on that. The shop I worked for and still frequent tends to lean toward the older books. Most people don’t realize that modern books are printed in such high numbers it takes alot of sales and heavy demand to get the value to go up. And even with that, most books that go up instantly tend to drop within a year or so. Rare exceptions would be low print runs, numbered books, and rare covers. Pre-1975 books, and especially books before 1960, not only had lower print runs, but most unsold copies were destroyed for credit versus being thrown into backstock. Also, with alot of the oldest golden age books, the paper that they were printed on was not meant for long term survivability. Therefore almost all older books will rise in value simply on age and condition alone, and then on demand even further.

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