Robot 6

Marvel Comics App announcement sends tongues, and fingers, wagging

"Marvel Comics Arrive" Twitter trending topic

"Marvel Comics Arrive" Twitter trending topic

Spurred by Marvel’s official announcement of its iPad app, and early reviews of its performance on Apple’s new media slate, “Marvel Comics Arrive” briefly rocketed to the top of Twitter’s trending-topics list this morning.

But as some comics fans read the raves from the likes of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Andy Ihnatko, The New York Times’ David Pogue and BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin, or grumbled over the $1.99-per-title price tag, author-blogger Cory Doctorow was busy taking a stand against the iPad — and the Marvel Comics App.

“I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them,” Doctorow wrote this morning at BoingBoing. “If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. […] So what does Marvel do to ‘enhance’ its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites. Nice one, Misney.”

In response, author and comics annotator Jess Nevins tweeted: “That whooshing sound you just heard was Cory Doctorow missing the point on digital comics.”

Meanwhile, on The New York Times’ ArtsBeat blog, David Itzkoff asks, “Can the iPad Do Whatever a Comics Store Can?” He doesn’t offer an answer, but Marvel’s Ira Rubenstein does. Unsurprisingly, given the number of egg shells scattered throughout any discussion of digital distribution and the direct market, the response is a firm no.

“I don’t think anything can replace the comic-book store experience,” Rubenstein, executive vice president of Marvel’s global digital media group, tells Itzkoff. “That Wednesday, when people go to the stores, I call it a mini Comic-Con. It’s where fans gather and talk about the books and they argue about the books and speculate about the books. That experience isn’t going to change.”

In other comics-related Twitter news, Dark Horse’s series of “April Fool’s Comics” tweets also broke onto the U.S. trending-topics list on Thursday.



Matter-Pooper Lad

April 2, 2010 at 9:52 am

I-pad isn’t for me. I’m hooked on the paper.

Steven R. Stahl

April 2, 2010 at 10:15 am

Doctorow’s piece is mostly about the drawbacks in designing a device to be simple and easy to use — the mythical computer for everyone — instead of designing one that’s a multipurpose, flexible tool that isn’t difficult to use. The Marvel app is an example of software that is aimed at iPad users as passive consumers. Other publishers hope to use the iPad as a conduit for paid digital content in the same way that Marvel does, and there’s similar skepticism — — that the iPad will be their savior.

In my case, the iPad is too expensive to buy as an e-reader, and there’s something insulting about having to pay to have the battery replaced.


I’m hooked on the paper too, but I’m all aboard if this can help me increase the amount of titles I read monthly. I’d rather read more than read on paper.

“That whooshing sound you just heard was Cory Doctorow missing the point on digital comics.”

To make more money for the publisher by preventing you from sharing things you paid for? If that’s the point of digital comics, it sounds like Doctorow got it just fine.

How does Cory have any crediblility on this when he has never created anything worth reading? He should use his food stamps for food instead of internet service.

Cory is making a great point about sharing things. This is why reading digital is never will be the same as paper due to the lending portion. This is not to say that there are no places where you can go to share items. Also I do not think the price point is set low enough to make a big difference in the beginning. Let’s see what happens and not be so quick to say what the end game will be. BTW, Cory is a decent writer.

Simon DelMonte

April 2, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I thought Cory Doctorow was one of those futurists who are big in the SF community. And while I have no interest in the Giant iPhone, I am surprised that he would be so negative.

Then again, I think he also has turned off a lot of people in SF fandom of late. Not sure how, though.

Doctorow’s point is just because you’ve bought a digital comic, doesnt mean you have any control over it.

I’m just not impressed with the reader, it can’t get a two page layout. All things considered I’d rather have a tablet PC that can read .cbr and .cbz files.

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