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Quotes of the day | ‘Digital-first’ and the future of comics

Future Comics #2

“This year should be the year where a wide swathe of established comics creators go ‘digital-first’ with a broad variety of projects.  However, that should also have been last year.  Which leads me to wonder whether or not there’s really a taste for it among the creative community.  (Aside from me: but I’m not certain I’d have the time or access to the artists that’d really make it work for me.)  So I’m going to go ahead and say this isn’t going to happen this year, and won’t until it’s really too late – and just hope I’m completely wrong about this one.”

Warren Ellis, making his “non-predictions” for 2012

“I do believe that 2012 will see a direct-to-digital comics series written by me and a trusted collaborator.”

Brian Wood, in apparent response

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4 Comments

I know dc is going to be doing that with Batman and Justice League Beyond. Also, there has been a digital exclusive Batman Arkham City comic. So hopefully others will follow suit.

I think the best comment Ellis ever made, and possibly ever will make, on the future of comics was a post on his old (old, old) Warren Ellis Forum. In which he posted a grainy image of a skull atop a computer monitor and the text “How I feel about comics right now. GOOD NIGHT F***ERS TOMORROW YOU DIE.” (With real letters in place of the asterisks, obviously.)

Everything after that is, in some sense, just anticlimactic no? :-)

I don’t know where Ellis has been for the entire time he was writing Freak Angels, but digital first comics had been a thing for a while before he and the rest of the big industry names caught on.

It’s a Catch-22: if there were more digital-first or digital-only comics, particularly with ‘major’ creators or characters / properties involved, it would grow that segment of the marketplace but could alienate the already slim audience who might feel irritated at being pushed toward it.

The real value of digital is going to be to allow new or lesser-known creators to get material out there without nearly as much risk since there’s no printing and shipping costs involved. The audience really isn’t going to be the same, either, and some creators may have a hard time reaching beyond the diehards who live and breathe for their longboxes full of polybagged pamphlets. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but some publishers are inherently not going to have a product that works well in that format because of the audience.

I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I’m completely sold on digital comics, and I’ve been reading for over thirty years. I just ditched all my print New-52 DC subs in favor of the reduced price on digital versions (after they’ve been out for a couple months, I can wait it out) and I’ll probably be buying more digital than print from here on in. Anything that I think is that awesome that I have to physically own I can get the trades, and I won’t feel bad at all about buying the trades used or second hand down the line if I already bought the individual digital issues. I got to sample dozens of comics I’d never read before with free first digital issues and found a few new favorites that I will follow.

Savvy creators and publishers will take advantage of the new market and its potential and the dinosaurs will just keep on plodding along. This isn’t the same as the old free content, supported by advertising model of digital comics that was too haphazard of a business model to consistently work for more than a few who tried it.

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