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The British sci-fi anthology 2000AD was one of the first publishers to offer digital comics, and it ofers readers a choice: They can buy single issues and graphic novels within their iOS and Android apps or as direct downloads from their web store.
The advantage to the latter has always been that direct downloads are free of digital rights management (DRM) — they are simply files that can be freely moved from device to device — while comics purchased within the apps can only be read within the apps. Each way of buying comics has its advantages; the apps allow the user to store comics in the cloud and keep them organized in a single place on their tablet or computer, while PDF and CBZ files come with no strings attached.
Archie Comics has launched what it calls its new app — it’s really an update of the publisher’s existing iOS and Android apps — with an offer of 100 free comics for those who download it. And there may be more: I asked Archie’s Alex Segura how long the promotion would be in effect and he said, “We’re looking to have this up for about a month, and if downloads reach a certain threshold, we’ll be unlocking more free books on a tiered basis to celebrate the new app launches on Android and iOS.”
There’s quite a range of free comics available on the app, including classics, recent releases and comics that feature the side characters Jinx, Sabrina (original and manga versions) and Cosmo the Merry Martian. Not present: Afterlife With Archie, which carries a teen rating as opposed to Archie’s standard all-ages rating. There are also no Sonic, Mega Man or New Crusaders freebies, although they are available for in-app purchase. Say what? Yes, this app is built on iVerse’s Comics Plus platform, so you can buy new comics in-app. The app also includes Archie Unlimited, an all-you-can eat subscription service that allows subscribers to read a ton of comics, both new and back issues; because it’s integrated into the app, you can then buy the ones you want to keep.
Here are my picks for six free Archie comics that make entertaining reading, especially on a lazy summer weekend.
Last week, we noted that comiXology had added a major French publisher, Glénat, to its lineup. The other shoe drops today with the news that the digital-comics giant has signed 12 more French publishers: Aelement Comics, Akileos, Ankama, Éditions Ça et Là, I Can Fly, Indeez Urban Éditions, Los Brignolès Éditions, Panini Comics, Sandawe, Soleil Productions, Wanga Comics and WEBellipses.
Together with Delcourt, which comiXology brought aboard in January, this group represents 40 percent of the French comics market and more than 400 titles. You can find the French-language comics here; if you were thinking it might be a little classier to read Kick-Ass in French, well, here’s your chance. All the French comics released today are available in French-speaking European countries, and most of them are available in the United States as well.
This is a logical move for comiXology; as CEO David Steinberger observed at SXSW, 40 percent of the company’s sales are outside the United States, and this expands the market even further. In keeping with this, comiXology has included a French-language navigation option in the latest release of its iOS app, version 3.3, and Android users will soon get that option as well.
Digital comics were the big story of 2011, and there is no question that comiXology dominated the field. CEO David Steinberger and his crew realized the potential of digital media to transform comics back in 2007, but they didn’t start on the iPhone. What comiXology did first was put comics solicitations online (as opposed to trapping them in a paper catalog, as Previews does) and set up a system for digital pull lists that users could tie in to participating retailers or simply print out and bring to the store.
Now the comiXology brand means much, much more. They were among the first digital comics distributors on the iPhone and then on the iPad, and their digital comics app, simply titled Comics, is one of the top grossing apps in the iTunes store. They also have their own web store as well as an Android app. ComiXology is also behind almost every comics publisher app, including Marvel, DC, Image, IDW (a recent addition), Dynamite and BOOM! Studios, as well as single-property apps such as Scott Pilgrim, The Walking Dead, and Star Trek.
ComiXology smurfs another one: They will publish a dedicated Smurfs app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that will include seven full Smurfs comics. Like other comiXology apps, the app itself is free, and the comics are available in-app for $3.99 each; the corresponding print volumes retail for $5.99 paperback, $10.99 hardcover, so that’s a pretty smurf deal.
The Smurf comics are published by Papercutz, the all-ages imprint of NBM Publishing, and Papercutz publisher Terry Nantier smurfed the opportunity to point out that the little blue fellows started out as comics before they were animated cartoons. “I grew up with these comics, they truly are classics. It’s a shame that these books, which have been in print forever everywhere else on Earth, have been out-of-print for so long in America, which is why we decided to publish them in print and digitally,” he said.
Although you need an iThing to get the app and buy the comics, they sync with comiXology’s Comics reader, which is available for web browsers and Android devices as well as iOS.