Robot 6

Comics A.M. | A demand for rollback on same-day digital release?

"The Amazing Spider-Man" #1 variant by John Romita Sr.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” #1 variant by John Romita Sr.

Retailing | Dennis Barger, co-owner of Wonderworld Comics in Taylor, Michigan, and the driving force behind the new retailer association CBRA (Comic Book Retailers Alliance), says direct-market stores want publishers to pull back on same-day digital release, and debut the print comics first. He says ComicsPRO, the established, much larger, trade organization, is taking the wrong approach in trying to adapt to digital. Barger also feels that hand-selling by employees, not social media, is what propels sales of comics, especially non-Big Two titles: “The employees at local comic shops pushing these books is the difference in being in the top 200 and the bottom 300 in sales for those books.” A shift to digital, which removes the local comics shop from the equation, would thus harm second-tier publishers such as Dark Horse, BOOM! Studios and IDW. The association was able to purchase an exclusive variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #1, drawn by John Romita Sr., for its members. [The News-Herald]



Manga | Residents around Japan’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are up in arms about a story in the long-running foodie manga Oishinbo. In the story, which appeared in Shogakukan’s Big Comic Spirits magazine, the characters visit the plant and are briefly exposed to radiation. Later, they suffer from headaches, fatigue and nosebleeds, and the mayor tells them the locals also have these symptoms but don’t talk about it openly. A tweet protesting the story has received more than 13,000 retweets, and the managing editor of the magazine says the office has received a deluge of telephone and email complaints. The safety of food from the area, including fish and mushrooms, has been a matter of widespread public concern since the plant was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. [Japan Times]

Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Raccoon

Comics | Brian Truitt puts together an if-you-like-this-try-that guide to the Free Comic Book Day releases; it’s a handy tool for picking just the right book for your friends who don’t regularly read comics. [USA Today]

Comics | India doesn’t just have a Free Comic Book Day, it has a Free Comic Book Weekend, with a number of Indian publishers offering free digital downloads on Saturday and Sunday. []

Creators | Alex Dueben interviews Mimi Pond about her new graphic novel Over Easy, a lightly fictionalized account of her time as a waitress in a California diner in the late 1970s. [Suicide Girls]

Dream Police #1

Dream Police #1

Creators | J. Michael Straczynski talks about his new Image Comics series Dream Police: “I grew up without friends for most of that, and no stability. My subconscious, needing some kind of continuity, began to stitch tighter some of the places I’d lived into a dream city, a familiar neighborhood cobbled together from bits and pieces that I still sometimes dream about. I know where all the stores and theaters and restaurants are, and I used to wonder who kept the peace in a stable dreamscape like that. Hence, Dream Police.” [New York Daily News]

Creators | ROBOT 6 contributor Chris Arrant talks to Tom Pinchuk, writer of the new Max Steel graphic novel Max Steel: Haywire. [Newsarama]

Retailing | Kelly Tey looks at the Malaysian comics retailing scene, which peaked in the 1990s but looks pretty bleak today. [The Star]

Exhibits | Comics scholar Paul Gravett talks about the new exhibit at the British Library, “Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the U.K.,” which he helped curate: “It could easily have been a serious, reverential exhibition called ‘Graphic Literature’, and it could have been really dull. But we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose sight of comics’ subversive side. Comics have a long history of upsetting people, so it would be wrong to try to make them seem respectable.” [The Independent]



I get what Dennis Barger, but it’s just the wrong way to go. With most of the data so far pointing to the fact that digital is not cannibalizing print, making digital second class is the worst approach. I don’t buy print single issues. I’ll buy them in trades, but not from comic shops. If I want singles, I want digital copies. Why do I need to wait an extra day – or more – to get it? My nearest comic shop is 40 miles away. I have no interest in going on these kinds of treks to get comics. I have zero incentive to store more single issues – I’ve already got 20,000 of those from years of collecting.

Penalizing digital – when there’s little crossover to begin with – is just wrongheaded.

Digital comics should come out day-and-date and should be priced at half or less than the print version, preferably 99 cents. Anything else is completely backwards facing and will not help the comics industry compete with videogames, film, TV, and piracy.

Yeah, Barger’s take is delusional.

I’m sorry, but if you think hand-selling by employees drives more sales — especially of stuff that the reader wouldn’t have already bought anyway — than word of mouth (which is what social media is) from people they know and trust, you’re crazy.

As Chris says above, not everyone has same-day access to comic shops. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve got access to them (distance-wise) but the shop is small and can’t afford to take chances, which means there are basically no shelf copies of anything not in the Top 100 already.

I swear, every time I see comic store owners complain about having to complete with digital, I hear the dinosaur noises from Jurassic Park. Just because you guys have had a stranglehold on access to comics for the last 20 years doesn’t mean you’re entitled to it.

If anything, Digital should be unshackled from the price points of print books. Why should a digital Justice League comic run 4 dollars when the printing, shipping and one of the middle men is removed? The only reason digital comics are kept at their artificially high price is because publishers do not want to anger dinosaurs like the guy in the article.

Damn what a loser. This guy wants an advantage over digital cause he doesn’t think he and his employees are good enough to sell comics on a levelled playing field. No way digital is going to stop being same day as print just cause he’s a crybaby.

And no, new digital comics shouldn’t be priced at $1 when a physical one is $3-$4 that right there would put comic stores out of business. Plus seeing as tho u can download the same issue infinite amount of times on many, many devices $3-$4 isn’t that bad.

I read only digital comics now and I read most exclusively Marvel though I am buying Serenity from Dark Horse too. I want my books ASAP. I don’t want to be the victim of short sighted marketing campaigns pushing print comics before digital ones thus spoiling the stories for me in online media.

Screw him , he’s only making sure piracy wins big time by removing same day releases . And what about folks like me that now dont want to purchase the paper versions , or lives overseas and dont feel confident about the localizaed versions of those comics (not to mention how incredibly late and behind they are in some countries) ?

Forcing such down our throats only make sure Marvel and DC loses both digital and paper sales . Finally it is damn time Comics companies bypass the diamond monopoly , and comic retailers as a whole , to once again be distributed in newstands , instead of being confined to a niche .

There is a reason , among others , that the manga market worked wonder , and still globally works , it’s not exiled to specialized retail shop .

I buy exclusively from my local comic shop for the most part, I’ve only bought digital books a handful of times. But to penalize digital readers is just silly. I can understand his apprehension, and I agree that we should do as much as possible to make sure LCS’s continue to thrive, but this is a step too far.

Glenn Simpson

May 1, 2014 at 10:44 am

The prices on digital are going to have to come down a good bit for me to consider it (but I have nothing against digital per se, just that I can get print cheaper) but I wonder how Barger’s group would feel if they did give them a 24 hour delay – but took away the “same price as print” feature. A day later for a dollar less?

Doug Glassman

May 1, 2014 at 10:56 am

The bell can’t be un-rung at this point. Digital’s here and the rest of the industry has to deal with it. Personally, while I get my monthlies on Comixology, I still make a point to get trades and toys at the local comic book stores so that they still have my business.

Yes it’s great that they’re actually selling, but my purchases from those publishers has exploded in digital because it’s available and affordable.

I still have paper, but 99% of my purchases are now digital. I prefer it to paper now.

I don’t necessarily think digital should be less than print. Yes, there may be less material overhead, but you have other types of overhead with server space, traffic/bandwidth, digital security, etc.

Besides, and album on iTunes is typically on par with pricing for the CD… why should comics be different?

Although, I have to say that there should be exceptions. NO WAY should that Frank Thorne deluxe Red Sonja book be $150 in digital just because the print version is. An oversized, hardcover edition is very different from a monthly issue or even a “TPB” edition. Digital buyers shouldn’t be held to the same premium price when we aren’t getting the same premium format. Of course, one could argue that the hardcover isn’t even priced right, but that’s another conversation.

Anyway, as long as people look at digital comics with the lens of app-style impulse purchase rather than music/movie-style purchase, the price parity isn’t going to seem right. But digital comics really should be looked at more akin to digital music and movies, in my opinion.


May 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

“Barger also feels that hand-selling by employees, not social media, is what propels sales of comics, especially non-Big Two titles”

BWAHAHAHAH!!! That alone makes him sound like an ignorant moron.

You want $1 or 99 cents to be the standard price for a comic, digital or otherwise? Okay, then fire everyone who works in the industry now and farm the work out to the communist Chinese. Because that is the only way that cover prices not seen since 1990 could possibly work in 2014.

Do CD stores get albums a day before iTunes? No, because that would be stupid and pointless.


After moving several times in the last few years for school, I’ve come to appreciate digital books a whole lot. If I want to read something I don’t have to sift through my boxes to find it and I don’t have to lug them all when I move. Being on a budget I usually wait a month or two until the digital price goes to 1.99. I’m not paying $4 for a digital book no matter how many devices I can read them on. But just because I wait, that doesn’t mean I think digital books should be pushed back. I don’t agree with that idea at all.

At the end of the day though, there are still books that I buy at the comic shop. Some books I just prefer to have in my hands. Plus all the social media in the world will never replace the camaraderie you get at your local comic shop (for those of us that have one that is).

Wow so not only is he deluding himself about digital comics , he is also patting himself and his gang , for promoting comics to people ALREADY buying comics and aware of most of those ?

Oh yeah you’ll thrive just fine , no need for digital /s

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