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.
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 Amazon.com 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.
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!
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???
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.