X-POSITION: Phoenix, Upstarts & More Tear Up Bowers & Sims' "X-Men '92"
Crime | Police in San Antonio, Texas, arrested two men on Friday on charges of stealing $5,000 worth of comics from a local collector. After the robbery, the collector contacted local comic shops and asked them to keep an eye out for the stolen goods. Several retailers gave police information, including a license plate number, that led to the arrests of Gino Saenz and Jose Gonzalez on charges of theft. [San Antonio Express-News]
Digital comics | Humble Bundle sold $3 million worth of DRM-free digital comics in 2014, the first year in which the company included e-books and comics in its bundles. Total e-book revenues were $4.75 million, of which $1.2 million went to charity (including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). That may sound like a lot of money, but as director of e-books Kelley Allen said, “The numbers generated by the book bundles look like a rounding error in comparison to video games,” because the audience for the latter is so vast. Humble Bundle’s e-books are DRM-free, which has been a stumbling block for traditional book publishers, but comics publishers are more flexible, Allen said. [Publishers Weekly]
“I’m a big believer that if you buy a comic, you ought to own it. With Insufferable you pay what you will. The market will determine what it’s worth. My instincts are bearing it out. For every person who wants to take it for free, there are those who are willing to show support.
Going DRM-free moves the needle for us. I appreciate the fact that people are nervous about file sharing and piracy. I don’t share that feeling, but I appreciate that some people do. Share my stuff. I think of it this way: When you hear that people have downloaded your comic, appreciate that thousands are eager to hear what you have to say. The poetry club down the hall may not have the same problem. That’s a good problem to have. It’s the new economy. You must adapt.”
This week’s announcement that all Tor books will be DRM-free by July made me wonder about what that meant for graphic novels. Tor publishes the Seven Seas line of manga, some of which have been available in digital formats for quite a while, so I checked in with managing editor Adam Arnold to see what the deal is. His answer surprised me: “I’m happy to say that all of Seven Seas’ ebooks have been DRM free from the very beginning.”
Most of what’s available at the moment is original English language (OEL) manga such as Amazing Agent Luna and Aoi House, so I took the opportunity to ask whether Seven Seas would be publishing digital editions of licensed books as well.
“We have the majority of our OEL titles available and are working towards making our Korean licenses available as ebooks as they come out in print, Arnold replied. “My Boyfriend is a Vampire is already available, and we’ll have Witch Hunter, Jack the Ripper: Hell Blade, and Lizzie Newton: Victorian Mysteries available this summer.
“For Japanese manga, it’s a bit harder to make them available digitally. The biggest hurdle is that a lot of Japanese licenses simply don’t have digital rights as an option, and if they do, there’s no real guarantee of a certain amount of ebook sales a month so that you can break even. We are interested in expanding our ebook line-up to include Japanese titles in the future, though. So…stay tuned!”
Apps: Chris Meadows reviews Comic Zeal 4, a CBR/CBZ comics reader for the iPad (previous editions had both iPad and iPod versions). Aside from the performance of the reader itself and its interface, Meadows also touches on the question of what you would use it for, since there aren’t a lot of legitimate sources of CBR/CBZ files; although some publishers use them for online work, the vast majority are pirated scans.
Zuda: Scott McCloud becomes the one millionth person to complain about Zuda’s annoyingly slow flash interface—and his prize is a personal response from Zuda honcho Ron Perazza.
iPad: Rich Johnson considers the possibilities and limitations of the iPad as a comics reader at The Beat.
Kindle: Gene Luen Yang‘s American Born Chinese is available on the Kindle, and he has a fuzzy photo on the internet to prove it. I’m not sure the Kindle is doing his book any favors, as the resolution is not that great and it converts the color images to black and white, but I’d need a sharper photo to know for sure.