How do you do it?

How do we do things?

Firstly, I buy the on-going monthly’s that I’m reading in print, obviously I do.  I visit the comic shop every Wednesday like a kid on Christmas.  I like the comic shop like a fat Englishman likes cake.  The smell, the buzz on a Wednesday, the general nerdery/wonderment and the comforting comics-chat with the other hard-core comics people.   Best place in the world.

While I’m in the shop, I also buy anything that generally looks cool or anything that has a blatantly beautiful cover and after making my considered selections and returning home,  I bag and board these books and park them in a small box next to my growing collection of old-school JLA’s.  I also buy signed books wherever possible and adore the very special, personal attachment that comes with that, even if I didn’t get the signature myself I definitely think that personal touch is invaluable in comics.  You’d never ask a creator to sign a digital copy of anything, how would that even work?   But, in spite of the digital books never quite achieving that personal vibe, I still buy the digital versions and mostly of the same monthly comics that I’m reading buying in print.

Broadly speaking, there’s something to be said for the nature of a digital image VS print.  An RGB image for Screen is made up of red, green and blue pixels and is backed-up by light.  RGB images have a completely different look and feel to a printed CMYK image which is made up of cyan, magenta, yellow and black pigment and quite obviously, a physical sheet of paper will have no light source behind it.  When you really start to think about what you’re holding in your hand on a mobile device in terms of its potential, you may start to wonder why they haven’t yet tried to be a bit more experimental with the images we’re looking at.  I appreciate there’s a fine line between comics, motion-comics and animation, but if the movement was subtle it could really enhance the digital-read beyond a simple and exact copy of what we see in print.  I also appreciate the importance of the day-and-date release and how adding further, more complicated elements to the digital books could play havoc on the general management of that.  But why can’t we have things like actual pouring rain and flashing police sirens on screen?  Digital books could also be updated in real-time.  Say for example there’s scrolling news feed on the side of a building in Time Square, make it actually scroll with relevant and current news too.  You could even mention creators and fans in something like that.

There is a gaping chasm of untapped resource in the digital comics world and the sooner the big boys start to experiment with that, the sooner we can tell them what we don’t like.  That’s how it works, right?

In the meantime, we get exactly the same on screen as we get in print and that is pretty cool in itself to be fair.  The Marvel and DC apps are very similar and both offer access to some exciting stuff.  Aside from the ongoing monthly books you can go back and read things that maybe you don’t need in print, or can’t afford in print etc.  How many of us have actually read Action #1 for example?   There’s a bunch of character intros and must-read lists for your favourite characters and I like being able to search by creator.  I also like the way you see all the variant covers at the top of a story on screen and the fact that there’s no advertising in the middle of a book in digital.

There’s something reassuring about trying a book digitally before you buy it in ‘real life’ too.  Even the act of leafing through can be done on your phone before you even arrive in the local shop.  Is that a good thing though?  Should the local shops have download terminals or something?  Or in-store iPad’s to look at books on screen inside the shop?  A giant grey area would be maintaining the culture of comics as the digital market grows.

As mentioned previously, I love the idea of being able to go back and actually read Amazing Fantasy #15 or detective #27 without hunting them down and paying millions for them.  This leads me to ask “what other content do I wish I could download?”  I’d love to be able to download artwork in progress or under-drawings.  It would be nice to have extra features for example like a DVD… maybe only available if you download an entire series?  Maybe the story or backgrounds or colouring could be geo targeted, the London version could be foggy and raining for example and the LA version could be bright and sunny?  Maybe the story dictates the setting but, the potential is there to really stretch how things are done.

I love how buying in print to ‘have’ and buying in digital to ‘use’ stretches as far as my old-school JLA’s too.  I probably wouldn’t have read these otherwise.   If I’m being honest.

So, how do you do it?

Danny Champion Written by:

Danny Champion is a freelance writer and artist. Follow CandyAppleFox on Twitter.

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8 Comments

  1. FrancisMH
    May 30, 2012

    One of the reasons I returned my iPad to Apple was because I didn’t want to succumb to the convenience of digital comics. I knew if I migrated, I’d convince myself that it’d no longer make sense to go to the store every Wednesday (a ritual that I still enjoy). I’m also the type that prefers owning something tangible when I have to pay for it. Plus, holding a printed book just feels so much warmer and natural than a screen.

    I think we’re still seeing a real struggle against fully embracing digital from the Big 2 right now, for obvious fears of killing their physical, direct market. It’s interesting because in almost any other medium, we’ve seen a real race with technology for the next great thing. Whereas with comics, perhaps due to the nature of the system right now, the companies seem to be doing everything it can to delay it. If you ask me, day and date releases should’ve happened many years ago. It certainly wasn’t the technology that kept it back.

    We’ve seen small previews of what’s possible with digital in Marvel’s Infinite AvX book that came out a few months back. This is only scratching the surface, of course. And like you mentioned, there are very blurred lines between animation and comics. (For the most part, I find Motion Comics really lame and a waste of everyone’s effort in their creation.) I think it’s important that some purity of the static image is maintained as these technologies develop.

    Overall, though I personally prefer the printed page, I will ultimately prefer any item in its intended form of consumption. One of my philosophies of consuming art is to receive the idea of the artist in the most faithful way to his/her original vision. This is part of the reason why I prefer to only buy vinyl of records pre-cassette/CD era. When writers/artists intend for their work to be read on an iPad, that’s when I’ll fully make the switch.

  2. Danny Champion
    May 30, 2012

    That’s quite an act of loyalty towards the printed books. There’s an argument to say that you could’ve kept the iPad (surely?) and just downloaded the sneak-peaks and freebies to keep one eye on the digital side? Not to mention how cool iPads are in general.

    I can understand the natural urge for the big publishers to be tentative as the digital age is dictating the way we consume our movies, music and books. The sheer collectible nature of printed comic books however, will never go away. We collect comic books. The digital realm doesn’t quench that in any way and will never as it isn’t… physical (as you point out). Digital simply enhances our involvement in the story and will never replace the printed books. Of that I am quite sure.

    DC also had an impressive New52 promo exhibiting the potential of digital just before the reboot. Something I’d like to see more of. I never want to see static images of people made to move though… nothing right about that.

    It’s interesting that you only buy vinyl. Obviously the sad thing about digital music is (again) the lack of cover artwork and physical packaging. I still make a point of buying some music on CD just to get the artwork and lyrics as intended. The core of the work is still the same though, the music, the ‘art’. It’s better in fact. There isn’t the same amount of collectible-ness attached to music in general. At least not enough for people to still really demand an album on vinyl, not in the same way people would demand a comic book in print if it was only available on screen anyway.

    It’s just like most forms of technology, it’s amazing and so convenient but, also it’s a bit of a shame at the same time.

    Great comment.

  3. Mot Yrreb
    May 31, 2012

    I also prefer the “real” thing, but I’ve been buying comics on CD and DVD lately. Mainly Gold and Silver age that I can’t afford otherwise. I’ve now read the entire Eerie and Vampirella collections. Something I could never do, buying book by book. Digital certainly has it’s place, but I prefer the real thing…and an autographed personal touch is great too.

  4. Danny Champion
    June 1, 2012

    Do you use the app’s also, Tom?

  5. Mot Yrreb
    June 1, 2012

    No. No, I don’t. I’m very non-electronic. Buying comics on CD or DVD is about as far as I go. I don’t even like phones.

  6. Danny Champion
    June 3, 2012

    Good question – also, is there such a thing as audio comic books? sound only.

  7. FrancisMH
    June 13, 2012

    I ended up purchasing an iPhone which fits my routine far better than a tablet and yes, still allows me to keep an eye on digital, like Marvel’s AR app (cool, but far from perfect at the moment).

    I have to disagree about your feelings on collectibility being enough to sustain the print market. I’m sure the same arguments were brought up when music began to go digital. Yes, there are arguably more collector-types in the comic subculture, but I think the large majority of readers will eventually succumb to the convenience of digital; especially if price decreases and new, digital-only technologies are implemented.

    Perhaps this is the reason we have yet to see much of either, at the moment.

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