Wednesday, November 26, 2014 • Morning Edition • "Hope you survive the experience!"

RUVIEW COUNTERPOINT! Attempting to Change Ru's Views on Digital Comics

Written by Dom G on Tuesday, May 29 2012 and posted in Columns

Your good buddy Dom is here to explain why RU has it all wrong when it comes to Digital Comics.


In a recent RU's Views post, GHERU expressed his opinions on digital comic books, and started the post off by writing that he was "not convinced, yet." I am taking that "yet" as a sign of hope for GHERU, and others like him. Digital comics have changed the way I read, purchase, and appreciate the comic book industry in general, so I feel I must take it upon myself to convince GHERU to join the digital-side.

This post will follow GHERU's post (for the most part) and give a counterpoint to each one of his views. Here we go...

GHERU writes: "Comics are too expensive." While they may in fact be "expensive" I certainly do not think they are "too" expensive. GHERU also argues that the entertainment value of the comic book is about 10 minutes, yet later in his post GHERU mentions letting others borrow the comic. If others are viewing/reading the comic then the entertainment time will go up. Plus, when you reread the comic book...you can add more time to the entertainment value.

Comparing the entertainment value of a comic book to that of a long novel or Netflix account (as GHERU does) seems a bit unfair considering the mediums are quite different. One only has text...the other is primarily visual. Yet, with that said, GHERU does bring up a good point. Why would kids still choose to get into comics? Because they're fucking awesome! That's why.

Why does GHERU still read comics? Why do I? Why do many of us? Comic books bring together the written word and compelling art to tell stories that can't be told in a movie or on TV or conveyed in a novel. Plus, children can pace themselves with a comic book and take plenty of time to read/view/experience it. I imagine children spend more than 10 minutes on each comic book as well. I use to reread my comics weekly. That may be because I didn't have many as a kid... which leads me to my next GHERU rebuttal: most kids don't have a ton of comic books.

GHERU writes about a "respectable pull list" for a kid. Pull list? My father used to take me maybe a couple of times a month and I got to pick out one, maybe two books... if I had been good. Many children don't get a lot of comic books a week, let alone a month. Sometimes, for Christmas, I would get some comics, but mostly I just waited till my father was feeling generous. Now obviously, some children's parents will take them more often, but if the parents are doing so then I am assuming they can afford the price of comics. It's not like the child controls the family pocketbook.

Going back to my point that comic books are not "too" expensive...I believe they are priced for the times. Comics continue to rise in price because wages continue to go up. Wages that consumers make and wages that professional comic book creators make. Sure creators don't make as much as some fans believe they should but they still make money. Proven creators make more and newer creators tend to make less. This is often why Marvel Comics and DC comics tend to cost quite a bit more in physical form and digital. Their talent tends to be more proven and elite, and that talent is paid well for their work.

I don't remember anyone ever saying the price of comics was high because of the paper. I can only think that is true for individuals printing their own comics or very small publishing companies. The price of comic books is high because it costs a lot of money to compensate everyone who works on a comic book, especially at a major publishing company like Marvel. You have to pay the writers, artists, colorists, letterers, inkers, editors, assistants, the publisher, producer and of course the actual printing company. Good comic books are expensive because an army of talented people work on them, and they need to be compensated so they continue to create more.

So though many people are still involved in the production of digital comic books, why are they still the same price as paper comic books if the paper is taken out of the equation? This is actually a question that bugs me a lot because it is based on a false premise. The question assumes the price of the digital comic book remains static. This simply isn't true. While the digital comic book does cost the same as a paper comic book when it first hits the stands and online database (digitally), the digital book does eventually go down in cost.

DC comic books and many other small press digital comic books go down $1 the month after they are released. Marvel's eventually go down in cost, but it does take much longer. But, and this is important to note, there are constantly deals on digital comic books. Comixology (the digital distributor I use) has $.99 deals on select Marvel comic books every Monday and Friday. Plus, often Marvel will have deals over a whole weekend and on holidays. (DC and the other publishers also have weekly and holiday sales.) The selected comic books rotate, too. So if there is a particular run you are looking forward to trying...just be patient. With the amount of deals that occur it shouldn't take long for you to come across a deal that you'll be gitty over. Digital comic books can be cheap. You just need to be patient and understand the deal schedule.

The last thing GHERU mentions in regards to the price of new digital comic books is that since there are no ads in digital books, digital comics remain expensive. While this may be partially true, I think the price has more to do with paying for the services that don't come along with the paper product such as paying the company who maintains the digital software, the employees who transfer comics and create navigational reading for the individual books. You don't simply transfer a file to the digital distributor and then the comic is ready to sell. There are people behind the scenes making digital comics possible...and they need to be paid.

Besides the cost of digital comic books, the idea of ownership seems to be a big sticking point for many collectors. The action of "loaning" a book to a pal seems impossible unless you let someone borrow your tablet, but as many know one can simply let a friend log into their online account and read any comic purchased through the specific database. If you are willing to lend a comic why wouldn't you be willing to give out your comic log in information? Okay, you're paranoid. That's cool. Change your password after a few days.

"But Dom," a hypothetical person may ask, "What if I want to take my book to a FedEx-Kinkos and blow up a cover or panel into a poster? There can't be any technology more advanced than a scanner, can there?" Well hypo, you're in luck. With digital comics you can take a screenshot or snipit and put it onto a flash drive to take to the FedEx-Kinkos. On the iPad you just need to hold down the power button and the circle button to take a screen shot. Plus, if you want to zoom in on a panel you can do that in panel by panel cinema mode (or whatever it's called). The picture will be more clear and crisp then it ever was when you were scanning it from your physical copy like a sucker.

What I'm trying to tell GHERU is that he can do the things he wanted, and wants, to do with his digital comic book. GHERU just didn't know how to do them. In this case, don't hate the game (digital comics), hate the player (yourself). If only there was a website with forums where you could ask others for advise on all things comic books...

I've always felt ownership is only an issue for comic book collectors, not comic book readers. A comic book reader is a person who enjoys comics but has no physical connection to them. A collector may love comic books, but their main characteristic is that they just like to collect. Comic book collectors sometimes get angry when I say this to them, but I am not saying they enjoy comic books any less, they just simply enjoy collecting, as well...even if the only thing they collect is comic books.

I once was a collector but now I'm just a comic book reader. It doesn't mean I appreciate the comic stories more or less, it just means I appreciate my living space. My comic book boxes stopped paying rent a long time ago, so I kicked them out physically. Fortunately because of the internet and my tablet/computer many of them are still with me in spirit...and content.

"But how could I get rid of something I spent money on?"

When newspapers existed most people didn't collect them. They tossed them. Even the Sunday additions with comics in them were thrown out.

Check out what I did with my old collection!

GHERU brings up another great point about not being able to lend a digital comic book (without lending a whole online account) when he references other things you can lend, such as CDs and MP3s. Did readers know that major music labels plan to abandon CD releases by the end of 2012? This means their (most) physical product is going away. Why? It may have something to do with how MP3s were spread around without any concern for the label or record company or original ownership. Files were so easy to get that many people stopped buying CDs. If comic book files are as easily shared as CD files, will physical comic books go the way of the CD? Personally, I don't think so. But maybe.

At this point I must concede one point to GHERU. The Comixology app doesn't have a history section (though it does have a "Purchases" section) which is something some would enjoy having for quick pricing reference. Of course one can always check their apple iTunes payment records (if purchased through an iPad), but that does take some time. The great thing about apps is that they can evolve. You can always send a quick message to Comixology (through the app) with suggestions or bugs you find. Do not fear the future, GHERU. Help make it one you'll enjoy!

So what is so great about digital comics? Follow this think to find out why I'm sold on digital comics.

I'd love to hear feedback on what the community thinks in terms of their digital comic book fears, so feel free to comment with your thoughts on the...digital future (said in a spooky voice). Oh, and a big thanks to GHERU for bringing up many great points with which a ton of comic book readers identify.

Dom G

Written or Contributed by: Dom G

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