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Onward Into the Digital Age of Comics!

Written by Jude Terror on Wednesday, February 09 2011 and posted in Features
Onward Into the Digital Age of Comics!

With the debut of Diamond Digital, the final push towards making Digital Comics a viable reality may be starting NOW!

The internet comics community has been speculating on the slow death of the monthly comic book for years now, but it wasn't really until the advent of tablet computers, with the iPad and the many Android tablets on the way, that anyone seriously considered reading comics digitally as a viable alternative to chapbooks. Comics on a computer monitor are unwieldy and unappealing to the average reader who might prefer to read in bed or on the throne, while the previous generation of digital and motion comics on smaller devices like the iPod were unsatisfying to many.

But with the iPad, a full-sized comic page can be viewed in brilliant color and read just about anywhere. Furthermore, with the announcement last year that was selling more digital books than hardcovers, and the recent prolific creation of digital apps by big and small publishers alike, the concept of reading and storing comics on an electronic device is becoming less outrageous every day.

While there are many people who still insist that they will require the touch and smell of a printed page to enjoy their books and comics, those some people were left sucking in dust when the world passed them by in the past decade in the realm of digital music, and digital video isn't far behind. In fact, this reporter would be both gleeful and unsurprised to see digital comics surpass print in the next five or ten years.

My pleasure in seeing print comics give way to digital doesn't come form any kind of animosity for the printed page. As an avid bibliophile, I've enjoyed printed books and comics for thirty years, and in fact I dedicate large amounts of time and attention to my love of comics working for this website. Rather, it's my love of comics that causes me to want to see them move forward with the rest of the world in embracing new technology and becoming accessible and even attractive to new generations of readers, which is something that we can or at least should all admit print comics have failed to do for the past decade, regardless of additional factors like distribution, price, and content.

What will be the final nail in the coffin for print comics? It may ironically come from those who have the most to lose, in the form of Diamond Digital, the upcoming distribution service that will have the monopolistic comics distribution company offering digital downloads of brand new titles right alongside print versions in, of all places, the local comic shop. Let's hear the details from our friend Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool:

First, participating comics will be sold day and date exclusively through comic shop websites only, for thirty days, for $1.99. You won't be able to get them digitally without going through a comics shop for that period.

And second, people who buy the hard copy of a comic wil be able to download a digital version... for 99 cents.

Which turns a $3.99 hard copy comic to $4.99 for hard copy and digital. I'm not exactly sure how successful that will be.

But all a retailer needs to participate is a store, an internet connection and a printer.

Diamond Digital will debut in July and currently signed-on publishers include the program include Ape Entertainment, Archie Comics, Aspen Comics, Bluewater Productions, Broadsword Comics, Hermes Press, IDW Publishing, Moonstone Comics, NBM Publishing, Papercutz, Red 5 Comics, Studio Foglio, Titan Books, TOKYOPOP, Top Cow Productions and Top Shelf Productions.

Announcements for Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse have not been made. Yet.
Obviously, part of the motivation here is for Diamond and retailers alike to desperately hold onto the shrinking Direct Market that has, in the opinion of many, been the biggest factor in the fading of the popularity of the medium over the past two decades, but once the floodgates have been opened and the current fanbase converted, it won't be long before publishers realize that failing to distribute new digital comics to mainstream audiences directly through the internet is handicapping their ability to bring new readers to comics, and, perhaps, to survive.

Until that happens - and whether you like it or not, it will - this reporter will simply continue shouting "Onward Into the Digital Age!"

Source: Press Release
Written or Contributed by: Jude Terror

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About the Author - Jude Terror

Jude Terror is the Webmaster Supreme of The Outhouse and a sarcastic ace reporter dedicated to delivering irreverent comics and entertainment news to The Outhouse's dozens of loyal readers. Driven by a quest for vengeance, Jude Terror taught himself to program and joined The Outhouse. He instantly began working toward his goal of forcing the internet comics community to take itself less seriously and failing miserably. A certified trash eater ruining the pristine field of comics journalism with his sarcasm and goofiness, Jude Terror is secretly friendly and congenial, so if you've got a complaint, why not just bring it up to him instead of subtweeting like a jackass, jackass? You can find him on Twitter or try your luck with an email, but keep in mind that he is notoriously unreliable and may not get back to you right away. Unless you want to send him free stuff, in which case he'll get back to you immediately.

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