Robot 6

Slash Print | Following the digital evolution

Civil War #1, on a bed of Mylar

Civil War #1, on a bed of Mylar

Publishing | Louis Holt argues that “collectibility” will save the printed comic from being replaced by the digital version.

“The fallacy of thinking that digital comic books will kill print comic books is that it ignores the collectible value of comic books,” Holt writes. “There is no telling how many comic books sold today aren’t even read but are immediately slid into protective sleeves with backing boards. People can’t trade or wrap digital comic books in plastic.”

I suspect Holt creates a flaw of his own by overstating the hold collectibility has on readers. Handling monthly comics like 1,000-year-old parchments before sealing them away in Mylar bags may be common practice among a segment of the audience (particularly those of a certain age). However, I don’t believe “collectibility” is a driving force — the driving force? — for the readership at large. The increasing popularity of trade paperbacks, the whole wait-for-the-trade “movement,” and, yes, webcomics would seem enough to cast Holt’s notion into doubt.

That said, the band shouldn’t start the funeral dirge for the printed comic anytime soon (whatever “soon” means). Any sort of seismic shift by the industry toward digital comics still faces numerous obstacles — e-device quality and affordability, and the necessity of new business models, among them. I just don’t think “collectibility” is one of the more worrisome ones.

Matt Maxwell also weighs in: “Well, pulp novels are collectable, so are wax cylinders. So are vinyl records. Anything can be made collectible. Collectibility doesn’t mean that a format survives or is necessarily a standard currency any longer. It just means that someone wants the artifact and is willing to pay for it.”

Copyright | Although manga publishers have yet to clamp down on scanlators — fans who translate Japanese comics and post them online — a University of London professor thinks conflicts could arise as the global market becomes more lucrative. She estimates there are more than 1,000 scanlation groups worldwide.

E-devices | Matt Springer sees Apple’s rumored touch-screen Netbook as a contender for “ultimate eComics reader.”

Social media | Advertising Age reports that Facebook is driving more traffic than Google to some large websites.



Things become collectible because of scarcity. What’s scarce about 400,000 copies of the Obama-issue of Amazing Spidey? I worked in retail for six years, and I became increasingly convinced that the comic industry would only BENEFIT from a shift away from comics as collectibles. The industry should move towards a model in which online and/or very cheap monthlies preempt a nice bookshelf collection.

I’ve never understood the urge to collect comics. Over the course of twenty years I have manged to keep my collection contained to a single long-box. I know a lot of people who just can’t part with a comic and are sort of “forced” into collecting -I don’t know a single one who doesn’t hate the stacks of long-boxes they have. Seriously.

Personally I much prefer a TPB. I buy comics to enjoy the story and the art. A TPB is easy to pull of the shelf, carry around in a backpack without damaging it, and then put back on the shelf. How often does anyone ever look in their long-boxes? My own personal experience says the answer is “almost never”.

I would love to see ATOMIC ROBO go 100% digital for the single issues and then come out as TPBs.

I think the thing holding back digital comics is that they are awful. Maybe it’s just because, as Kevin suggested, a good digital reader doesn’t exist. On the current digital readers I have used there is no way to see the entire page while reading the comic. You have to zoom in and then scroll down. For me the layout of the entire page has been an important part of the feel of a story. The scroll down effect definitely throws off pacing and makes for a really awkward read. It also pretty much ruins any full page or double page spread.

I’m with Scott on the TPB thing though. They are the way to go. In defense of serialized comics though, I think they allow you to sample a lot more than if everything was just collected in trade. They also give you the great feeling of self contained stories. I’m thinking of the first couple issues of Old Man Logan that have a completely different feel than the rest. You can kind of just read those two and be satisfied.

Leave a Comment


Browse the Robot 6 Archives