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Slash Print | Thoughts on comics and the iPad

The Marvel Comics App on the iPad

The Marvel Comics App on the iPad

A roundup of commentary on what Apple’s newly released iPad may mean for comics:

PvP creator Scott Kurtz: “… Everything I read online points to an entire industry either adamatly denying that the iPad will change things for comics or actively praying it doesn’t. Then there’s the truly astounding group of idiots just sitting there waiting to see if it does anything. Retailers want it to fail because they want to keep selling physical floppy comics. Diamond wants it to fail because they want to keep being a monopoly for physical floppy comics. Fans want it to fail because for them, comics is about collecting, bagging and boarding, not reading. Creators want it to fail because they’re artists, and they don’t understand new business models or how to make money, nor do they want to worry about it.”

• Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada: “… The iPad could be the new feeder system for brick and mortar stores. Ever since the newsstand really died for comics, that element has been missing in many ways. Trades in bookstores picked up some of the slack, but the newsstand used to be huge. I think the iPad will be that and more and will improve the sales of comics in all areas, especially at comic shops. That’s why we have the comic shop locator built into the app.”

•  Blogger David Brothers: “I don’t know that I agree with Joe Q’s answer. When I stopped buying CDs, getting an iPod didn’t send me back to Best Buy. It sent me to AmazonMP3. What’s much, much more likely is that mainstream digital comics and comic shop comics will split into two separate, but complementary, revenue streams. [...] If I start buying comics on the iPad, I’m not going to click the little ‘Go to a comic shop!’ button to start filling up my house. I’m going to click the ‘Buy digital comics’ button to fill up my iPad with every issue Hypno Hustler ever appeared in. While it’s nice that Marvel is attempting to maintain favor with the retailers, and stressing that in their press releases to an almost absurd degree, but I can’t see any iPad revolution sending people to comic shops without Marvel self-sabotaging their digital sales.”

• Writer and commentator Matt Maxwell: “The unspoken thing here is ‘what the hell happens to the direct market?’ I’m not even going to try to answer that. Everything I see is a lot of Not Pretty. And I say this as a guy who loves to go into a good comic store. I love to talk comics, I love to explore, to find stuff that I hadn’t read before. I love going into the Isotope and finding a warehouse copy of WALLACE WOOD’S CANNON, or going to Comix Experience for signings. I love that, but I don’t know how they’re going to compete. Though I will say that I have to refute Joe Quesada’s statement that all these digital comics are a road that lead people back to brick and mortar Direct Market stores. Seems to me that this is a road towards getting more people to read digital comics, possibly buying collections, but not the weekly, habitual buyers that have been the bread and butter of Marvel and DC and others for the last twenty years. Kiss that ship goodbye, as it has headed out, full power.”

• Youth Radio’s Noah J. Nelson: “… If digital copies for the iPad ran, say, 99 cents instead, hundreds of thousands — soon to be millions — of potential customers could be lured into impulse-buying comics. These readers could then be converted to subscribers, and then shepherded into buying hardbound and trade paperback versions of the stories they love. I’m talking about more than plus or minus a buck in pricing. Geeks — and the multimedia conglomerates that Marvel (Disney) and DC Comics (Warners) are a part of — often suffer from a kind of myopia that limits their ability to share what they love. Instead of trying to replicate what we had with print, they should be finding ways to reach out to new audiences clearly hungry for genre works.”

Joel Pollack, founder of the Big Planet Comics chain: “The death of comics has been predicted since the birth of comics. But one of the great strengths of the medium is its uncanny ability to co-opt other media. From radio drama to movie serials to television to big-screen to computers and the internet, comics have been able to piggyback and provide content without significantly altering the medium. I’m hopeful that digital comics will introduce new generations to our wonderful medium, and at the end of the day, create a new legion of readers/enthusiasts who want the printed items in their libraries.”

I don’t know that I agree with Joe Q’s answer. When I stopped buying CDs, getting an iPod didn’t send me back to Best Buy. It sent me to AmazonMP3. What’s much, much more likely is that mainstream digital comics and comic shop comics will split into two separate, but complementary, revenue streams. I try to minimize the floppies I buy because I vastly prefer trades. I buy mp3s and ebooks at a wholly irresponsible pace due in large part to the fact that I don’t have to worry about storage. If I start buying comics on the iPad, I’m not going to click the little “Go to a comic shop!” button to start filling up my house. I’m going to click the “Buy digital comics” button to fill up my iPad with every issue Hypno Hustler ever appeared in.

While it’s nice that Marvel is attempting to maintain favor with the retailers, and stressing that in their press releases to an almost absurd degree, but I can’t see any iPad revolution sending people to comic shops without Marvel self-sabotaging their digital sales. Remember when DC Comics announced that there’d be no trade of Identity Crisis until at least a year after the series ended?

Yeah, that’s self-sabotage. It’s stupid. You’re leaving money in wallets. It’s nice that retailers make bank off floppies, but there’s a large subset of readers who don’t care to buy a 32 page pamphlet. Manga used to come out over here in floppies, remember that? Now it comes out in fat little trades. The market adjusted to the demand.

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5 Comments

I expected Dirk to pull that quote, Kevin. Figured you’d go for the “Comics will survive anything” angle.

Sometimes I like to zig instead of zag.

You stay crafty, sir.

Nice collection of quotes. I stopped buying comics a few years back, it got to be to expensive, to much space was taken up… and my priorities in life shifted. I still read the blogs, keep up with the news and industry as a whole, and buy an occasional trade when I want to read the best of a series, or story line. When comics are in a digital format on a device where they are easy to use, that’s when I will start getting back into following specific characters, writers and stories. Ereaders and the iphone/ itouch don’t work for the medium and so I have not used them for comics, though I do use them to read more periodicals, books and articles now then I do traditional print media outlets. Maybe the ipad is the device, maybe not, I just want my material digital, I am spoiled by technology, I don’t want to physically have to store it, and I dont want to have to go somewhere to get it. I want it now, now now….. but until then a lot of the story line and characters just aren’t worth going out for every week any more. I’ll keep waiting and keeping up… when it all happens.. I’ll use the reviews and catch up on the good stuff.

I agree with Noah Nelson’s price point. I really want to buy up Iron Man Director of Shield on ComiXology, but at 1.99 a clip, it’s not something I’m in a rush to do. The trades are probably cheaper. But I totally bought Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet issue 1 on impulse at .99 when my flight was delayed, and plan to continue the series via the app.

Once releases match day and date to the monthlies, my fix each week will be digital comics over floppies, and buy trades of what I really like.

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