This thread is here to discuss Marvel Comics
For those that don't know, Marvel Comics has been climbing like a rocket for the past three years. No longer wanting to be known as those guys who make those little books that nerds collect, they've expanded their empire to ginormous proportions.
First, about three years ago, they decided that they were tired of Fox and Sony royally fucking up their cherished franchises. They decided to take a step in the right direction and form Marvel Studios, a film company which they would use to produce feature films of their beloved comic characters with complete creative control (that's called alliteration kids, it's a comic book thing) without the suits standing in the way.
Their first outings were pretty damn successful. There was Iron Man, Then The Incredible Hulk, and Punisher: War Zone, which was their least profitable, but still better than anything Dolph Lundgren or Thomas Jane could ever cough out. Most recently, as in this week, they've signed master writer and director Joss Whedon to take the helm of their Avengers franchise. This will be a huge leap in the comic movie industry, as it will tie in all separate films while retaining most, if not all, of the principal cast.
Next, in a shocking move, Disney purchased Marvel for a pretty hefty sum. This caused a lot of stirrings in the comics industry and insiders from both sides of the field were "cautiously optimistic" to say the least.
Disney wasted no time in rattling the cages. Since taking ownership, they've made two strong moves. The first is to pull most of the off the shelf content and publication away from Diamond Comics, the ONLY printer and reseller of comic books (unless you're one of those indie books that sells less than 1000 copies a month) and turn it over to Hachette Press, a company with a long history of, well, history.
Second, they went all digital. That's the main thing I want to talk about. Two weeks ago, Marvel teamed up with ComiXology, a web/app based digital comics distribution controller, to provide an app for both the iPhone and the illustrious iPad.
Within this app, you can obtain Marvel comics, both free and paid, from an ever growing back catalogue. Now of course these look simply amazing on the ipad, but what's really amazing is how well they read on the iphone. They move panel to panel, auto adjusting for narrow or wide frames, with a unique and clever zoom feature that makes sure you can read all the text, and see every inch of the action in a film like storytelling format.
They've taken a lot of hell for their pricing, which currently stands at 1.99 a comic (USD) with no option for trade discounts or a season pass/subscription system. A blogger has written up a great view of this here
Basically, to summarize, he goes on to say that the $2 price point is a break even for Marvel Comics, while making sure the print industry doesn't suffer. As any collector knows, the entry point into comics, per issue, is around $3.50 currently, and back issues are getting more expensive every day. If Marvel released it's digital comics for, lets say $.99 a comic, there would be no reason to physically buy print comics anymore and they would lose money. By keeping the price at $2, they offer a very affordable alternative to the fan who isn't necessarily a collector, while making money and affording the cost of quality digital reprints with extensive formatting.
Okay, so the debate is this, are they groundbreaking and awesome, moving in a direction that will change the face of comics forever, or are they biting off more than they can chew, with an inevitable downfall to come?
Personally, I love the idea of the marvel online store. I love to collect, and have over 1000 comics currently bagged and boarded on my bookshelf, with dozens of accompanying hardcover and paperback trades, but it gets expensive, and I only collect because until now, it was my only legal means of acquiring comic books. I'm a huge fan of this new business model because it gives me the option to obtain entire runs of my favorite comics for pennies on the dollar compared to collecting the print format. For example, to obtain all 800 or so issues of Amazing Spider Man, starting with Amazing Fantasy 15, it would probably run me into the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the quality of the comics. But for the low price of roughly $1600, I can obtain all of them on a redistributable, multi platform digital format that I can read forever.
So what say you D&D
Is this the future of comics, something we can look forward to for years and share with our precious offspring down the road?
Care to weigh in on mistakes you think they've made along the road (not counting Marvel 2099, of course)?