Fred Waters of Wadena, MN is a an average comic book fan. As a phlebotomy technician at his local hospital, Fred earns a decent living to support his wife and three children. When Fred has a little bit of disposable income, he likes to spend it on comic books. Last year, Fred bought a Kindle Fire HD and began collecting comics digitally. Eventually, this would prove to be his undoing.
We met up with Fred underneath the Hay Creek Bridge where he now resides with his family inside a large cardboard box.
"I thought, this is great," Fred told us when asked about the switch to digital. "I used to have sixteen longboxes of comics taking up space in my two-car garage. Linda was always complaining about it, so I got the Kindle and ditched my paper comics. Big mistake."
"I wish we still had the boxes," Fred's wife Linda added. "We could use them to put an expansion on our shack."
How the heck did a successful phlebotomist end up living underneath a bridge? It all goes back to a new feature introduced by digital comics platform comiXology that allows readers to subscribe to titles, automatically purchasing each new issue of a series and making them available for download on the web or on digital comics reading devices. Fred was an early adopter.
"It seemed like a really good idea," Fred explained. "Who has time to check what books are coming out each week? I knew what titles I like to read, so subscription seemed like an obvious choice."
But Fred couldn't have been more wrong.
"I couldn't have been more wrong," Fred told us.
In his analog comics days, Fred used to spend forty to fifty dollars a month on comic books. Some of his favorite titles were the various X-books published by Marvel Comics. Fred subscribed to X-Factor, All New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, and Wolverine and the X-Men. He also subscribed to Avengers Arena, and Deadpool, as well as some Batman books from DC Comics. It seemed to be well within his budget. But when the first bill came due, Fred found that he owed sixteen thousand dollars.
"Marvel shipped seventy-two issues of X-Factor alone in the month of June," explained a somber Fred. "I knew that sometimes they double shipped a book, but I could never have expected this. A lot of the other titles double shipped too. It ruined me."
It seems that as soon as major comics publishers found out that they had what amounted to a blank check to double, triple, and sesquictuple ship digital comics that were already agreed to be paid for, they took swift and immediate advantage of the situation, pumping out as many issues of their most popular titles as they could on short notice, which digital subscribers automatically purchased under the terms of comiXology's program.
"It takes me like, five minutes to write a comic," boasted "The Great One" Brian Bendis, who writes both Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men. "And that's when I'm not even putting any real effort into it, which, let's face it, is most of the time."
Forced into crippling debt, Fred was unable to make his monthly mortgage payments. Things quickly spiraled out of control.
"I tried to pick up some more clients to bring home some more money," said Linda, a psychologist with her own practice, now closed, "but I just couldn't keep up. Since we had to sell both of our cars to pay comiXology, I couldn't get to work anymore."
"Neither of us could," admitted Fred. "And with no income, we lost the house. Now we live here, under this bridge, inside a cardboard box."
"I'm hungry," begged Fred and Linda's daughter, nine-year-old Celia Waters. "Can I have something to eat?"
"No, honey," said Fred sadly. "No you can't."
The Outhouse hopes that our readers will learn from Fred's story and be careful about subscribing to comics on comiXology's new digital subscription service. If you can't be swayed to reason, however, check out the press release below, which will tell you how you too can end up selling your internal organs on the black market to pay for digital comics.
ComiXology Debuts Subscriptions & Bundles!
Two new ways to shop on the web, making it easier than ever to get your favorite comics
July 1st, 2013 – New York, NY – Today comiXology debuts two new ways to shop that comic book fans have been clamoring for – subscriptions and bundles. Subscriptions let fans everywhere subscribe to their favorite series so they’ll never miss an issue. Bundles allow comiXology fans to buy curated collections – be it entire series, or multi-issue events – at steep discounts and all at a click of a button.
And while purchases made with either of these features allow comiXology fans to read their comics anywhere and on any device, fans wanting to take advantage of the of subscriptions and bundles features will need to shop at www.comiXology.com.
“Every hour of every day, everyone at comiXology is thinking about how to make it easier for comiXology fans to get the comics they love,” said comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger. “With subscriptions and bundles we’ve taken yet another step in delivering the great experience that our users deserve.”
“We are excited to help our customers get their favorite series automatically with our new subscription functionality – it means you don’t have to remember when the next issue comes out and you’ll be notified when it is ready to read on your device,” said comiXology co-founder John D. Roberts. “And with comiXology bundles isn’t it great that you can now get bundles of great titles at significant savings with just one click? I can’t wait for our customers to see both features in action.”
Currently subscriptions are offered for every ongoing title on the entire comiXology platform – just click the “Subscribe to Series” button for the series on comiXology.com
The debut bundles – all offering deep savings – currently available to purchase are:
• Marvel – Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender – The Complete Series
• Marvel – X-Men: Schism – The Complete Event
• Marvel – Infinity Gauntlet Trilogy
• Marvel – Marvel Masterworks
• Marvel – Wolverine: Origins - The Complete Series
• Marvel – Marvel NOW! Starter Bundle
• MonkeyBrain – MonkeyBrain Firsts
• Valiant – Valiant Starter Bundle
• Archaia – Archaia Digital Firsts
• BOOM! Studios – Adventure Time Bundle
• Dynamite Entertainment – Project Superpowers Bundle
• Fantagraphics – Love & Rockets: Locas Bundle
• IDW – Richard Stark's Parker Omnibus
• IDW – Joe Hill Sampler
• Image – Image Collections Starter Bundle
• Image – Chew Bundle
• Zenescope – Zenescope Starter Bundle
Last week, comiXology was in the news when they unveiled their 3.3 iOS upgrade of the comiXology app that not only included two new reading enhancements – Fit-to-width, and Show Two Pages – but also debuted French language navigation in comiXology’s iOS application.
Hand-in-hand with this minor iOS upgrade that had major benefits, comiXology debuted content from 14 French publisher that together make up almost 40% of the entire French bandes dessinée, comic book, graphic novel, and manga market. Providing new and existing comiXology fans the opportunity to purchase and experience content in the language of their choice is part of comiXology’s global expansion strategy.
With over 35,000 comics and graphic novels from more than 75 publishers, comiXology offers the widest selection of English language digital comics in the world. ComiXology’s availability across the iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows 8 and the Web makes it the best digital platform for newly interested, current and lapsed comic and graphic novel fans worldwide.
Founded in 2007, comiXology has revolutionized the comic book and graphic novel industry by delivering a cloud-based digital comics platform that makes discovering, buying, and reading comics more fun than ever before. ComiXology’s Guided View™ reading technology transforms the comic book medium into an immersive and cinematic experience, helping comiXology become one of iTunes top 10 grossing iPad apps in both 2011 and 2012. Offering the broadest library of comic book content from the top 75 publishers, and including independent creators as well, comiXology will not stop until everyone on the face of the planet has become a comic book fan. A privately held company, comiXology is based in New York City. For more information visit www.comixology.com.