Robot 6

Scary Go Round‘s John Allison on digital vs. paper

Bad Machinery

John Allison, creator of Bad Machinery and Scary Go Round, hates e-books:

[A book is] a tactile object relatively unchanged since the Gutenberg press. You’ve got to hold that thing in front of your face. It’s your buddy until you’re done with it. A well-thumbed, much read book is like a vile, beloved, drooled on childhood bunny, but you wouldn’t buy one of those second-hand unless you had a lot of problems in your life.

I’ve seen examples of the beautiful work being done in interactive ebooks for children. They depress me. Kids are in a world of their own and we seek ever more to make concrete things that would have lived in their imagination. Any graphic work is dead on screen compared to how it looks on paper.

While Allison is not the only one to express these sentiments, it’s interesting to hear them from someone who is best known for his webcomics, although that may be in part because, as he told Newsarama a few years ago, “I find reading on the screen painful, because I spend most of the day staring at my Cintiq and one of those nuclear new iMacs that work so hard to burn your eyes clean out.”



I can’t stand reading on screens…most of the reading I do is outside and the glare is generally HORRIBLE on ipads/psp/etc :s Just wish I had more storage space for all my paper books, hehe ^^;

digital is alright for some things. Book and comicbooks are certainly not on that list. I’ve long said, and it’s very true, if comics ever go 100% digital, which I don’t see happening any time soon, I’m simply done reading comicbooks.

Besides, there are things REAL comics can do that digital ‘comics’ never can.
First and foremost, you are more likely to hand a read comic to a kid to let them read it than you are a digital copy.
Second, in a situation like the tornado that ripped through Joplin, MO you can’t donate digital ‘comics’ to help people escape the situation for a few moments. But you can donate REAL comics.

Just a few things that real has over digital.

Comic books are fine for me, but the book format gives me a bit of eye strain. I do like that you can change font size, though; reading the small print has been a hassle for my wife for quite a while now.

And here’s one thing that print will never have over digital — it takes up too much @##$ space.

I don’t mind devoting the home space to beautifully designed objects like Fantagraphics’ and Drawn & Quarterly’s output, or the occasional Absolutes and Omnibuses, not to mention IDW’s strip reprints and the upcoming Parker Martini Edition, but I am so tired of having to dig through longboxes for superhero comics that I am a digital convert for that genre, big time.

I can respect John’s point of view about having books in hand – it’s like an old friend and you can’t really get that from a digital copy. However, if you read a book enough times, it falls apart and you need to get a new one and your love of that work continues unabated. Just like music mp3’s versus vinyl. It’s not exactly the same but you can still enjoy the song.

The book was a step up from scrolls and stone carvings. It was portable and easier to manage. Digital copies are much the same – they are more portable and easier to manage. Someday, holograms (or something else) will replace the digital format.

Unfortunately for digital products, digital = disposable since it’s not a true permanent copy. So John can rest easy, since digital can’t fully replace the convenience of books.

Digital comics are wonderful. WONDERFUL. For a person like myself who lives in a space not much larger than a jail cell (no exaggeration), digital media is the way to go.

John’s a brilliant, funny, insightful guy though, so I can’t begrudge him one disagreement.

as my eyesight goes and i realised this week that i can no longer read paper comics in bed, i’d quite like something that i can read. i like books, but i like them more than the paper that limits the size of the page.

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