My Comic Life Since Going Digital

It’s been a while since I’ve written a comic piece, but I felt it was long overdue.  The three huge summer blockbusters also put me in the mood to talk about the source material a bit.  About a year ago I completely switched over from reading physical comics to digital comics on my iPad.  My motivation for doing this was because I had fallen ill and was having trouble actually getting to my local comic shop each and every week.  I should tell you that I still love reading physical books, graphics novels and comics.  That said, this new digital platform is simply amazing.  Zeroing in on comics specifically, it allows me to take thousands of comics with me wherever I go.  I can also purchase most comics for a fraction of their regular asking price.  Rarity means nothing in a digital marketplace.  All major comic companies support comiXology, which now has an app for both iOS and Android.  It’s the de facto comic book reader, and allows for a streamlined panel-to-panel transition view (called Guided View), or the regular full-page view you get when reading a real comic.  I tend to select the full-page view on my iPad and the panel-to-panel transition view on my iPhone.  The high-resolution colors and details make these comics come alive like never before.  Even vintage books look incredible, and you can zoom in so far that you can make out details you never thought possible.  Please take note that the images you see here have all been modified to 800 pixels, and changed from their original PNG files to JPEGs.  I did this to make them fit the page.

Just look at that awesome storefront. Tell me there's nothing there you wouldn't want to check out?!?

All new comics appear on the app the day they hit comic book stores, which is extremely handy, although the initial prices for Marvel comics are still way to high, coming in at $4 a book.  A month or so later they drop to $3 a book.  DC comics are mostly $2 a book, except for the really popular ones which go for either $4 or $3 depending on the title.  Like Marvel, the prices decrease over time.  Image books typically go for $3 for a new book, and $2 for an older one.  The prices vary is what I’m getting at.  That said the comic companies almost always hold incredible deals that are simply non-existent with their real-world counterparts.  Take this past weekend as an example.  When The Avengers movie was released, Marvel held a $0.99 Avengers weekend; meaning over 200 books were available for purchase for only a buck apiece, instead of either $2 or $3.  That adds up to a huge savings, if you’re like me and take advantage of these sales.  This weekend Vertigo is having a Fables sale.  You can purchase Fables #1 all the way up to last month’s Fables #115 for only a buck each!  That’s amazing!  Nowhere else in the world would you be able to spend $115 and get each and every Fables book ever released.

Another trend I really like is that trade paperbacks are also available in digital format.  Take The Walking Dead for example.  You can buy each and every comic for $2 each, or you can buy the collected volumes for $9.99 each, which typically contain six comics.  That’s about the same going rate as what charges for the actual book, however these collections also go on sale, so it remains a really solid deal.  Again, you have to think that you can bring these with you, and they take up no shelf space at all, which brings me to my next point.

Like The Walking Dead, well why buy the real comics or trades when you can have everything with you all the time!

After having collected comics, graphic novels and traditional novels for more than two decades, I’ve got a lot of stuff.  I’m talking storage-worthy containers worth of stuff.  Now my entire comic collection can easily be stored within an app.  It’s also far more organized than my collection has ever been before.  Think about it, when you’ve got over 40 long comic boxes and you try to keep your books in alphabetical order, that’s a lot of moving around.  Hell, I’ve had 7 boxes devoted solely to Spider-Man for years, and every time I get an old issue, I have to go back and rearrange all of those boxes.  Yuck!  Now I don’t have to do any of that nonsense.  With this app, all the books are in their rightful place, and I can browse them with ease.  Not only by title either; I have the option of categorizing them by publisher, genre and creator as well.  That’s another curse of being a comic book fan, you can never really read your back issues.  Whenever I wanted to go and read a specific run from five years ago or longer, I’d need a forklift just to find the books.  Not anymore!

If you're looking to get into the next big event, you don't need to worry about which comics are part of the story, the app does all the hard work for you.

One final point us comic fans have to deal with all the time is lists.  You get used to that word, lists, or reserve lists as they’re often called.  See in real life you’re responsible for ensuring you get the comics you want.  Only problem is it isn’t as simple as just going to a comic store and saying I want Superman.  Sure that gets you his main series, but anything else, like a one-shot, or a special, or whatever is entirely up to you to reserve in advance…two months in advance.  Often what happens if your reserve box is packed full of comics you didn’t want because when you reserved them the creative team wasn’t known or the story hadn’t been fully decided on.  That’s not to mention the comic book dealer “accidently” filling your box with comics you didn’t want.  Those days are thankfully over with.  Now I don’t need to be up to the minute on all my comics, I can simply read them as they come out and be surprised, like I was back when I was a young kid.  It’s awesome!

Let’s wrap this up.  If you never considered reading comics before now is the perfect time to start.  Be honest, how many of you own a smartphone or a tablet, yeah pretty much everyone reading this.  There are books geared directly towards adults like Chew, Sweet Tooth, and The Walking Dead, there are all the classic superhero books, and there are more original graphic novels than you can possibly imagine.  Thanks to the iPad, the iPhone and more specifically comiXology, I now have the freedom to pick and choose the books I want to read, when I want to read them, and for as little money as possible.  Honestly, what the heck is not to like about that???

Here's what a full page in its original aspect ratio looks like. Not too shabby right?

Update: Thanks to the following comments from Timothy, I discovered that the comiXology website works almost exactly like their mobile apps.  This means if you purchase anything via their site, it automatically links back to any mobile device you happen to use, and vice-versa.  The site also has a really excellent feature that allows you to purchase an entire series you’re interested in, which isn’t found on the mobile apps of comiXology.

9 thoughts on “My Comic Life Since Going Digital”

  1. good write up man but there are issues with the current format with comiXology. If and when that company goes belly up, you lose everything you bought. From what I have read, you don’t “own” anything and can’t access your books if the company is no longer around. This is a major issue to me and I want more freedoms before I start supporting a digital format.

    Also, having a physical copy of graphic novels and books are a lot better in my eyes. One, my friends let me borrow their books all the time, and the same for me too. I can say “Hey check out Demon Knights…you will LOVE this series!” I can’t do that with digital comics man. I do agree it’s nice to have “all your books” in one place but digital is not perfect for every reader…not even close.

    NOW let’s talk about the big problem with any digital format, and that’s reading the books themselves. I have been on DC’s and Marvel’s digital sites to see preveiws of their digital tech….and I have to move and zoom in to see the text and full details. That sucks big time and I don’t like it. You claim everything works perfect on the iPad platforms. I find that very hard to believe because my PC has a nice 22 inch LED monitor, and it has a lot more space to view content….and it sucks ass haha

    How can you tell me that a small ass iPhone and even the iPad screens can match a monitor my friend?!? I don’t think so and I’m NOT going to buy an iPad (or whatever device) just to read comics haha

  2. Btw awesome sale for the Fables series!!!! $115 bucks for all 115 issues is very tough to pass by if you are into digital comics!

  3. Let me address all your concerns. First up is the digital format, if Marvel and DC go under that means Disney and the WB go under, because comiXology doesn’t own any of these comics, they simply provide the storefront. Marvel, DC, Image, etc, are the owners of the IP and the digital rights. So if those companies go belly up, well wow I’ll be the first to admit I never saw that coming. In the event comiXology goes belly up, Marvel, DC, etc simply release their own independent apps and presto all your licenses are transferred over. It’s already a question been answered many times over.

    As for the friends comment, I can’t argue you with that, but what I can say is that if you’ve ever bought a single digital videogame you’re already in the same boat. The difference is at least with the comics you can sync all your devices to have access to your collection, which is something you can’t do with games.

    The “reading” problem is one only you appear to have for some reason. I’ve said it many times before, the iPad full screen resolution is 2048-by-1536. If you can’t see clear text with that, well I just don’t believe you. Sorry if that sounds rude, but it’s one of the most shocking images I’ve ever seen. As for the phone, what happens there if the entire panel fills the screen, not the entire page. That view isn’t ideal, but it gets the job done when I want to read some books on my way home from work. I wouldn’t bring my comics to work with me so I consider that a nice trade off. When you bring up the computer, that’s not at all what I’m talking about when I refer to digital comics. What you’re talking about are the super primitive books that were before the advent of the comiXolgy app. comiXolgy purposely doesn’t support native reading on monitors because their not the optimal reading experience. Do you read novels on your computer? You can, but again a Kindle or a tablet is much more comfortable. So hopefully you’ll finally understand what I’ve told you about a thousand times already. ;)

    The beauty with tablets is that they’re so useful for everything else. Sarina and I use ours all the time. In fact I can’t ever get it away room her! Now I use it cruise the web, read comics and graphic novels and for work purposes. Best money I’ve spent in a very long time. Seriously!

  4. I see your points man and like I said before. I don’t have a tablet to exp what reading a comic book would be like. Only what I have on my PC.

    “The beauty with tablets is that they’re so useful for everything else”

    Name one thing a tablet would do better than what I have right now with my PC? NOTHING but maybe reading novels haha. Not good enough for me to spend money on a device I won’t use. Maybe when I stop playing PC games and only want to check my emails…I might think about getting a tablet but their small screens sucks compared to a nice LED monitor my friend.

    To me, I see no valve in any tablet at all. They are just not for me because I rather have a REAL pc system that can do a lot more than a tablet. Now, if you are a person who only uses emails and looks at the web from time-to-time….tablets could be perfect for them….but not for me.

    Sorry, you have not sold me on an iPad or whatever device I can buy haha. I just don’t get the same rich exp as I do now. And why would I EVER want a watered down format like a tablet haha. Those are for casual PC users man, not me and you must agree with me here, no?

  5. This article was not about tablets versus PCs and I’m in no way trying to sell you a tablet. I’m simply saying that you’re only looking at one form of digital comics. I’m looking at the greater scheme of things and including what I use. I won’t touch the tablet comment because you’ve clearly already made your mind up about the devices, so there’s no point in wasting my breath. I used to be like you, but I changed my mind once I actually purchased one for work. Now I can’t go back for my quick fixes.

    I think the reason why digital comics haven’t been ported to the PC properly is because the eReader and tablet markets have eclipsed them in terms of sales. In one week the comiXology app sold more comics than Marvel did in its entire time they had their digital comics.

    One day I’m sure you’ll be able to experience digital comics the way I have. When you texted me you brough up the point of these books being an investment and that’s true, but it’s a very big trade off. Do you want to collect your books or read them? If you’re collecting then obviously the real books are the way to go, but if you want to read them after a few years that becomes almost impossible. Look at me, takes me DAYS to locate old books. Is that worth the investment when we’re talking about objects you read?

  6. Well I bought a free comic from DC (it makes you check out like if it was a real buy haha) and the system and reader they have in place is very good. So I am wrong about the digital comics and reading them. ComiXology has the panels bigger than the printed books themselves, and I have no trouble reading the text so far

    I will admit that I jumped the gun, but what I tried a while back (I think 1.5 years ago) was pure trash! I’m thinking about switch some series to digital, but it feels weird not holding a book and reading it that way haha.

    Blah IE did crash when I was reading a book tho lol Damn MS

  7. Ok so let’s update the readers who are interested here. comiXology works the exact same way on the PC/Mac as it does on the iPad. The only difference is that the Guided View on the iPad fills the entire screen whereas it doesn’t on the computer, but the full screen mode is enormous and makes up for it.

    I’m loving the “buy series” option. I’ve never seen that on the mobile versions before. That’s actually bad ass.

    You should have mentioned you were basing your comments on the old system. Grr! lol. Now go buy the entire Fables series for $150!

    1. You got that right Steven. Like I said before to you, it’s great being able to pick and choose the comics you want without having to worry about “oh why is this in my list?” and other incidents like that. For me the storage was always a huge problems for me, and now that’s no longer the case, which is a double win :)

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