13 Jun 2012

Thought Balloon: Learning To Love Digital Comics

Tom P: I’ve had an iPad for over a year now and it’s only in the last few months that I started reading comics digitally. Why now? Well, I recently started the huge task of organizing my neglected longboxes and stacks of comics. Having put it off for far too long it remains an ongoing project but found I had quite a few Marvel comics with digital download codes. At first I dismissed them - If I had it in print why would I want a digital copy? - but there I was with all these codes. Now I love triple play blu-rays as I get a digital copy I can watch on the go, which is great when you travel or want to watch Megan Fox, sorry, Transformers in the bath. Anyway, I digress. Its added value and if I didn’t redeem them then maybe I wasn’t really taking full advantage of the $3.99 price tag. I typed them all in and now I have all these comics on my iPad and iPhone: brilliant!
I love print, it has a quality digital lacks and provides an escape from a computer screen in this increasingly connected world, but it is extremely useful being able to read a comic in bed without the bedside light on when your wife is trying to sleep! Or, say, if you’re stuck in queue for a cross channel ferry you could always reread Ultimate Spider-Man - as long as you’ve got power is doesn’t matter if you have no wi-fi, you can always have comics to read and you don’t have to have a massively heavy bag of books to stuff into an already over-packed car. I will continue to buy weekly comics as I just love the format and it scratches that collective itch, but while rotating an iPad as the panel changes angle can be a pain, I’ve been more than won over.
This week Brian Wood starts his new comic, The Massive, for Dark Horse. He’s written some prelude chapters that appeared in Dark Horse Presents but with all the other stuff I get every month I couldn’t justify the additional expense so was well pleased when all three chapters were offered for free on Earth Day. Brilliant - digital win! And you can now pick them all up on the Dark Horse app for less than the cost of a pint! I highly recommend a read if you can and remember Wood promised The Massive will have extra content in the printed editions not available online or in future trades, so let those digital comics encourage you to keep buying singles!

Both Marvel and DC have started putting out some digitally exclusive comics so here are a few interesting ones I would recommend. Marvel have so far produced the best example of a genre-pushing cyber comic in the form of Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #1 for £0.69! Bargain! It’s a story told in blistering speed and style showing the breakneck race of Nova to return to Earth ahead of the Phoenix Force. Its been conceived and designed to work on a digital device and had me hooked. Written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Stuart Immonen, if you have an Android or IOS device I recommend it completely. I believe another Infinite comic will be issued free on redemption of the code from AVX  #6. Nice.
DC comics have been launching a few titles online, the best of which is Legends Of The Dark Knight #1 - ‘The Butler Did It’ by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire. Lindelof riffs on Frank Millers All Star Batman with a bit of Green Lantern bashing (*shudder*) but that aside it’s a cool little tale and worth your £0.69 just to see Lemire drawing Batman, all formatted and designed for your device. Superb. A less successful but sassy and fun effort is Ame-Comi I: Wonder Woman #1 with art by Amada Conner and a story from Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti. It’s not as good as the current Azzarello Wonder Woman - which I can’t praise highly enough - but it’s a decent effort as an introduction to her world and besides one annoying panel twist it reads well. And it’s also only £0.69 an issue so you won’t waste much money if you don’t like it.

I hope you feel inclined to check some of these out and I’d love to hear other people's opinions on the digital comic format. I recently asked Agent M (aka Marvel’s Executive Editorial Director Ryan Penagos) via Twitter what your local comic book store receives when you redeem a digital code and he said they get a bit of money back. That’s one good reason to type that code in rather then letting it expire in a longbox and it strikes me as a decent thing of them to do. I don’t ever want to see print die but I think there is more than enough room for both formats to enhance your reading experience.

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