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[Digital Comics] Funny Books On Your Phones and Tablets! Check OP For Retailers

wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
edited March 2012 in Graphic Violence
I mentioned Longbox, an iTunes-like digital comics platform that's currently in development, in the comics news thread. It is the most credible and serious effort to make digital comics available legally for consumers, at least in my estimation. Marvel also has its own solution, DCU, which sorta-kinda-not really addresses the demand for digital comics. And there are a few others out there. The main point is that the industry can no longer ignore digital comics, and must now take steps towards finding the best way to monetize and exploit them as an alternative content delivery mechanism.

This thread is for discussing the various digital comics solutions and initiatives that are currently or will soon be available. Specifically, let's talk about pricing and diversity of content, the effects that a serious move to digital will have on different parts of the comics food chain, and how this will affect your reading and buying habits. Additionally, let's talk about the pros and cons of the different solutions

I know this should go without saying, but this thread isn't for talking about pirated comics. I'd also like to avoid talking about webcomics, as they are a somewhat different beast.

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Sources for Digital Comics
Digital Content Directly from Creators
These creators are doing it right, so support them!

Digital Content Directly from Publishers
Other Interesting and Useful Links

wwtMask on
When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
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Posts

  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    they will need to make some specific typefaces that can be read well on screen

    the ones they use currently will just cause strain on the eyes after a period of reading.
    also the artists are going to get paid even less now.

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    They've already started factoring in digital comics in the contracts. If anything, I'd say this is a winner for the publishers and creators and a loser for distributors and retailers. Creators stand to make out quite well, since they wouldn't even need to release singles anywhere but online. The cost of printing and distribution is what kills indie creators.

    Also, a couple of blog postings that should put the promise of Longbox into perspective:
    Kieron Gillen
    Andrew Wheeler

    KG essentially says that he's making nothing on the current Phonogram, and that if he sold the same amount digitally as he does in print, he and McKelvie would make a liveable wage.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I think we ought to break down the pros and cons for each player in the comics chain. Let's start with consumers, since that's where most of us are coming from.

    Cons
    not as attractive a package
    compatibility between different digi-comics platforms

    Pros
    Better price point
    Better Storage
    convenience
    more buying power

    Am I missing anything?

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    there is also a level of enjoyment that will be taken away by having comics turned digitally.

    i like sitting down on my chair and reading comics, or in my bed. i can read them wherever i want. if i am on a long bus ride i can take a trade and read it.

    also it does suck a lot for retailers, people have been in the business for years, and have supported them through terrible times will be shit out of luck soon if they all just switch to digital.

  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    In regards to consumers, we'll likely still be able to purchase our books in an attractive format through the continued sales of trade paperbacks.

    Also, another Pro is that titles won't need to sell as many copies to recoup the costs of producing them, which means books like Blue Beetle and Manhunter that are modest sellers would nonetheless turn enough of a profit to remain in production.

  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    its like a newspaper though

    there are two options, the internet, or old print style.
    people still like buying the paper every day and reading it wherever they work. it's an experience.

    i find that most people who buy weekly comics don't get trade paperbacks, so what happens if this goes all digital? you are handcuffing them to accept a format they might not enjoy.

  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    humble wrote: »
    its like a newspaper though

    there are two options, the internet, or old print style.
    people still like buying the paper every day and reading it wherever they work. it's an experience.

    i find that most people who buy weekly comics don't get trade paperbacks, so what happens if this goes all digital? you are handcuffing them to accept a format they might not enjoy.

    The problem with newspapers and comics is that not enough people enjoy buying them in flimsy, disposable form.

    How many of those people don't buy trades because they feel it'd be a redundant purchase after buying the singles? If they wanted to read something they missed from a few years ago, would they scour eBay for the singles or just buy a trade?

    In any case, I don't think "forcing" them to read comics in a format they aren't used to is a compelling reason to keep things as is.

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I think the convenience factor will increase once we get a Kindle or other e-reader that can do color comics. Anecdotally, my wife has basically tossed out most of our books and bought a Kindle. I thought that was nuts (that thing is expensive, and so are the books) until I realized how much she reads and how fucking convenient it is to have a hundred or so books fit into a small little device.

    As for retailers...I dunno, sucks to be them. I have nothing against the LCS (I like the owner of mine quite a lot, actually), but times change and you have to adapt. I don't see why I should be denied a product in order to prop up a pretty shaky business model.

    Don't get me wrong, I love reading floppies, but in the last few weeks I realized how much work I put into collecting them. I have longboxes and buy bags and boards for them and spend time keeping them in order. For all the singles I own, though, I don't think I've re-read even 1% of them. I'm doing all of that work and spending all that money on books that I'll probably never read again. On the other hand, I've reread some of the TPBs I own. They are a much better format for me, but I hate the waiting. With digi-comics, I'd have the happy medium. They'd be simple to keep in order, wouldn't require me to buy boxes and bags and boards, and it won't feel like a chore if I ever want to reread them.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    humble wrote: »
    its like a newspaper though

    there are two options, the internet, or old print style.
    people still like buying the paper every day and reading it wherever they work. it's an experience.

    i find that most people who buy weekly comics don't get trade paperbacks, so what happens if this goes all digital? you are handcuffing them to accept a format they might not enjoy.

    How many of those people don't buy trades because they feel it'd be a redundant purchase after buying the singles? If they wanted to read something they missed from a few years ago, would they scour eBay for the singles or just buy a trade?

    Right, the problem of double-dipping. I have zero desire to buy something in trade if I own it in singles. It's paying double the price for the same thing. On the other hand, if I paid $5 or $6 for a story arc, I'd feel better about getting the TPB. And Longbox, I think, has the right idea of giving a discount on the trade if you bought the digital singles.

    EDIT: also, who is forcing people to digital comics? Floppies won't go away, at least not from the big 2. They'll likely go away for smaller publishers, but without digi-comics, the economics of the industry would pretty much mean that the smaller publishers would stop publishing comics, period. This is basically exactly what's already happened in the music industry.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    if this digital distribution does turn out to be a huge success i dont see why marvel and dc would keep printing floppies. it is cost cutting in terms of printing and the likes.

    edit: i dont see a lot of kids buying comics digitally either. its really easy for them to come in the store and spend their allowance on a sonic or x-men book. but if it were digital and you had to have a credit card and account etc, that would eliminate a demographic.

  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I don't buy a lot of comix by any means, but I find "floppies" to be annoying to re-read and to store. Trades/albums/whatever/graphic novels are much much easier to re-read and to store.

    The price of floppies is quickly becoming ridiculous-- four dollars for 10-15 minutes of my time is not a good thing. I'm really thinking about cutting back to two titles. Something has to be damn good to justify the price point.

    A lot of things will have to change if digital distribuition is going to be a reality. The viewers, for example, are almost uniformly terrible. The fear of piracy presumably keeps the companies from just using pdfs or image files, but those are the best way to view images! Comix are images.

    I would like to see a discount for the trade thing if you buy the digital issues. There should be one for floppies now, in my opinion.

    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Yeah, DRM would kill any interest in digital comics for me pretty quickly. The bigger the hassle of the reader, the less time I'd spend reading overall.

  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    if you were going to go digital, its not so much as what application you use to view them, as much as the format they are in. currently they are styled for print, but we are talking display here. they would need a better way of laying out the artwork.

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    They would for the same reason that record companies continue to sell CDs: because there is a market for them. Marvel continues to print the Marvel Adventures line and DC similarly continues to print the Johnny DC line. Neither of these turn a profit. Ultimately, the comic publishers, especially the big 2, want their products to be as widely distributed as possible.

    One side effect of digi-comics will be the downward pressure they put on on printing and distribution costs. Diamond operates a monopoly on distribution now, but I bet you that they'll offer some sweet deal to DC and Marvel to keep them from fully engaging in the digi-comics arena. The same goes for printers, who will lose big if the big 2 scale back their print runs.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I don't really think that would be a problem in most comix, but it is an interesting idea.
    (i was replying to humble)

    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    If Longbox does DRM like iTunes used to, I don't think it'll be much hassle. I'd prefer DRM free, but allowing you to store/view the download on three devices doesn't seem particularly onerous to me. I'd only really be viewing them on my PC, Wii, and possibly a color Kindle whenever they develop one.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • The Geebs That Got BigtimedThe Geebs That Got Bigtimed Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    they should really be looking at the itunes model of doing business rather than a straight subscription model

    that way you could sell gift cards in major retailers, which allows kids to still take part without having to use a credit card and put sample codes in comics and such

  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    they should really be looking at the itunes model of doing business rather than a straight subscription model

    that way you could sell gift cards in major retailers, which allows kids to still take part without having to use a credit card and put sample codes in comics and such

    this was my idea as well

    way to steal it.
    but then the way kids view them is an issue as well, well kind of. i wouldnt trust my child with a kindle.

  • The Geebs That Got BigtimedThe Geebs That Got Bigtimed Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    humble wrote: »
    they should really be looking at the itunes model of doing business rather than a straight subscription model

    that way you could sell gift cards in major retailers, which allows kids to still take part without having to use a credit card and put sample codes in comics and such

    this was my idea as well

    way to steal it.
    but then the way kids view them is an issue as well, well kind of. i wouldnt trust my child with a kindle.

    well honestly, it's up to the parents to be able to control what their kids do on a computer

    I'd be more worried about them just wandering into a comic shop by themselves, actually, with all the rampant half-nudity that gets hung up in the form of posters and whatever

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    The convenience is pretty big, too. Right now, my options are mail order or going to the store. Either way, it takes time and there's no guarantee that they'll have what I want in stock. The great promise of digi-comics is the ability to purchase things that are out of print.

    Also, I just like the idea of indie creators actually getting paid instead of living like hoboes because they aren't in the mainstream.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • Robos A Go GoRobos A Go Go Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    None of the comic shops I've visited have had half-nudity everywhere, though a few were poorly organized and not at all hospitable to casual fans.

  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    humble wrote: »
    they should really be looking at the itunes model of doing business rather than a straight subscription model

    that way you could sell gift cards in major retailers, which allows kids to still take part without having to use a credit card and put sample codes in comics and such

    this was my idea as well

    way to steal it.
    but then the way kids view them is an issue as well, well kind of. i wouldnt trust my child with a kindle.

    well honestly, it's up to the parents to be able to control what their kids do on a computer

    I'd be more worried about them just wandering into a comic shop by themselves, actually, with all the rampant half-nudity that gets hung up in the form of posters and whatever

    i dont know what comic stores you go into

    the one i work at doesnt have anything like that on display, and any comic with that content is behind the counter

  • humblehumble Registered User
    edited June 2009
    it would be interesting to see what happened to cover artists

  • DouglasDangerDouglasDanger Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    humble wrote: »
    they should really be looking at the itunes model of doing business rather than a straight subscription model

    that way you could sell gift cards in major retailers, which allows kids to still take part without having to use a credit card and put sample codes in comics and such

    this was my idea as well

    way to steal it.
    but then the way kids view them is an issue as well, well kind of. i wouldnt trust my child with a kindle.

    well honestly, it's up to the parents to be able to control what their kids do on a computer

    I'd be more worried about them just wandering into a comic shop by themselves, actually, with all the rampant half-nudity that gets hung up in the form of posters and whatever

    the half-nudity in most comic stores is not worse than a day at the community pool/beach
    you are being sarcastic, right?

    i am worried about diamond somehow becoming involved in digital-distribution and somehow screwing the small guy again.

    I play games on ps3 and ps4. My PSN is DouglasDanger.
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I'm not too worried about that. Diamond is the only game in town in physical distribution, but they can't possibly replicate that monopoly online.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • The Geebs That Got BigtimedThe Geebs That Got Bigtimed Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    humble wrote: »
    humble wrote: »
    they should really be looking at the itunes model of doing business rather than a straight subscription model

    that way you could sell gift cards in major retailers, which allows kids to still take part without having to use a credit card and put sample codes in comics and such

    this was my idea as well

    way to steal it.
    but then the way kids view them is an issue as well, well kind of. i wouldnt trust my child with a kindle.

    well honestly, it's up to the parents to be able to control what their kids do on a computer

    I'd be more worried about them just wandering into a comic shop by themselves, actually, with all the rampant half-nudity that gets hung up in the form of posters and whatever

    i dont know what comic stores you go into

    the one i work at doesnt have anything like that on display, and any comic with that content is behind the counter

    Yeah, I dunno. I've seen it at one local shop and not the other, but the average cover picture of a female superhero is borderline inappropriate. I'm sure it's not a huge deal overall, so I'll drop that point.

    Still, I think it's easier to monitor what your kids are doing on a computer than if they wander into a comic shop, so that point doesn't seem as major to me. Especially since an online store can put limits in place that could help parents keep really violent or otherwise inappropriate comics out of their kids' hands, I guess.

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I should note that Longbox will support parental controls.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • WildcatWildcat Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I love the idea, personally.

  • VirralVirral Registered User
    edited June 2009
    If Marvel DCU was done right I'd be all over it like white on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snowstorm. Unfortunately it really isn't done right :/

    I'll be very interested to see how Longbox develops, because something that would allow me to get the comics I want to read digitally for a lower cost would be great, and I would continue to buy trades of the stuff I really enjoy.

    There's a bunch of stuff I buy in trade now that I'd like to read... but could live without having on my bookshelf. Some stuff I'd buy in trade no matter what, like Powers for example, but other stuff like Ms Marvel I'd be happy to just read digitally given the option.

    2vlp7o9.jpg
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I strongly recommend everyone read this write up on iFanboy about Longbox, especially the comments. The guy behind the project answers some good questions. http://www.ifanboy.com/content/articles/Digital_Comics_Next_Step__Longbox

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • TexiKenTexiKen Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said, Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I'd be down for something on a per issue basis, not a subscription deal. And as long as copy can be legible without having to zoom in too much (then zoom out, then in, etc).

    corel309-Copy_zps0390a6cc.jpg
  • VirralVirral Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Longbox is going to be 99c an issue apparently

    2vlp7o9.jpg
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    The guy talked about subscriptions being $10 for 12 issues. That's a steal for me. Also, Longbox's suggested price is $.99, but the publisher can ultimately set the price. I imagine that Marvel and DC will probably go with $1.50 to $2 an issue.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • TexiKenTexiKen Was it Kierkegaard or Dick Van Patten who said, Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    John Rogers or Matt Sturges wrote that Blue Beetle being sold online for a buck would only need to get 10,000 copies sold to cover all creative costs and still give DC a nice profit (what he thinks is a nice profit, I don't know, maybe $1,000 at least). So at 1.50 an issue, that would be a no brainer.

    corel309-Copy_zps0390a6cc.jpg
  • FaynorFaynor Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I could definitely see myself using this for more peripheral titles. Stuff I don't want to actually, y'know, hold.

    I guess it also depends on how much I'd use it whether or not Marvel keeps their current pricing model.

    It's just annoying, because I don't really buy floppies to collect them, I just want to read them. But I don't have the patience for trades.

    do you wanna see me eat a hotdog
  • ManonvonSuperockManonvonSuperock Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    It's difficult to discuss digital comics without discussing pirating comics as its the primary competition for the field. To get people to pay for a digital service, they have to make it more convenient to do so than to pirate them. Granted there are some people that will pay for the service to support the creators, etc. However, in any consumer field that type of altruistic concern for the financial well being of the creators is rare and definitely a trait that exists only in a small minority.

    Right now, it's like having a comic store that you pay to go into and read comics through an awkward, protective plexiglass case when there's a guy parked in the parking lot giving out copies to take home.

    So far, I've only had experience with the free portion of Marvel's browser-based viewer, but the resolution is shitty and the interface is a joke.

    However, if I were hypothetically to have had experience with pirated comics, I would complain about inconsistent quality in the scans, jackasses kicking up the saturation and contrast way too fucking high in the art, and difficulty in finding obscure/recent books.

    Now, if when I bought a trade I also got a download code for a cbr file of a decent resolution made from the original art from the publisher (or for older work, professional grade scans from archives), I'd pay an extra 20-30% easily.

    Then again, I'd use a browser-based viewer (if it were better than Marvel's) if they could get their ad revenue high enough to offer it. Something similar to hulu.

  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I dunno, I don't find the pay vs. free argument very compelling, mainly because iTunes proved that people do want to pay for content. Not everyone, of course, but the unspoken truth about digital piracy is that most of the people downloading stuff for free were never going to buy it in the first place. The goal of iTunes or Longbox is to have a distribution channel available to people who desire digital media and want to pay for it. That's the market, not simply people who want to consume digital media. And you get and retain customers in that market by offering a simple, convenient, and enjoyable experience where people feel like they're getting value for their money.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • Unco-ordinatedUnco-ordinated Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Are comic book publishers completely blind to their dwindling sales or something? Because honestly, I'm pretty shocked that up until now, no-one's even bothered to have a good attempt to deliver comics digitally.

    There's a lot of neat stuff you could do with it. Have two payment options, buy individually or subscribe ($X for 12 issues a month, etc). You could also support trades by giving customers discounts if they already own all the single issues. It also gives you an easy way to sell old comics, by just hiring a group of people (including some of the people pirating comics) and getting them to scan/clean up them all.

    Steam ID - LiquidSolid170 | PSN ID - LiquidSolid
  • wwtMaskwwtMask Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Longbox sounds like it's pretty much gonna do all of that.

    The beauty of the digital comics market is that the publishers barely have to do anything more to produce the end product. The art is on a computer now from almost the beginning of the art process. Because of that, there is so much flexibility in how the final package could be delivered. Imagine the possibilities for director's cut issues. They could include one or more drafts of the script to see the evolution of the story from initial idea to finished product. Or on the art, a layered presentation of the pages where you can peel back the pages to reveal the art at its various stages. Or you could have a podcast where the artist and/or writer talk about the process of making the comic. It could be so much more than just scanning the print book.

    When he dies, I hope they write "Worst Affirmative Action Hire, EVER" on his grave. His corpse should be trolled.
    Twitter - @liberaltruths | Google+ - http://gplus.to/wwtMask | Occupy Tallahassee
  • ColanutColanut Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I'm really on board with digital content now. Music, sold. Video, just about. Books (Kindle), I could see that happening. Comics, I would do it too, but there are two areas that are still up in the air for me.

    One is readable devices. The other is availability of the back catalog.

    If I can take digital comics with me on a (theoretical) Kindle or iSomethingsomething I'm totally on board. I've pretty much stopped using laptops and reading at the computer desk is not appealing.

    I'm not a very good comics reader in that I usually want to read a particular story arc in a big go, and I usually jump around in my interest. Longbox (and the other one that 2000AD uses) seems to have good models on current issues moving forward. But man, some time I really want to go back and read a story line from earlier that I wasn't into at the time.

    The back catalog of music has been coming so slowly and incomplete that I don't have high hopes for the labor intensive process of getting older comic titles available.

    Still, Longbox sounds like a great way to get started on new stuff when they can get a few more publishers on board. I wonder if Fantagraphics would consider it.

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