IMAGE EXPO: Eric Stephenson's Keynote Address Set to Reveal New Projects
The biggest comics news Thursday out of Comic-Con International was undoubtedly that, after years of debate, comiXology has introduced DRM-free backups of titles purchased from its storefront, with Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, Top Shelf Productions and Zenescope Entertainment signing on to the program.
An email went out last night notifying customers that books they’ve purchased can be downloaded and stored as PDF or CBZ files, and pointing them to an FAQ on the subject.
“This has been an oft-requested feature,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger said during the company’s Comic-Con panel. “It’s a real backup file — it’s a fairly plain PDF or CBZ. They are high resolution, not a lot of bells and whistles, and my feeling is that people will continue to use the cloud-based reader to do their reading.”
The other big announcement was that Marvel will publish Avengers: Age of Ultron, an in-continuity graphic novel by the Uncanny X-Force team of Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña and Dean White scheduled to arrive in April 2015, ahead of the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Marvel is making the first chapter of Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted Infinite Comic available for free this month to anyone who redeems a digital comic code from select titles. The offer begins Friday.
The 13-part digital miniseries, by Jason Aaron, Jason Latour and Paco Diaz, was designed specifically for mobile devices, and finds Wolverine stranded in the far reaches of Japan, where he must fight his way through ninjas, the Silver Samurai and Sabretooth.
“It’s tied to what Jason’s done in that we directly spin out of Sabretooth’s vicious takeover of The Hand,” Latour explained to Comic Book Resources when the project was announced. “This has left the ninja ranks thin, and cleared away many of the leaders and statesmen that were the backbone of the clan. It’s left their hold on the modern world in dire straits as well. But where other folks might see lemons, Sabretooth sees this as an opportunity to drag the ninja into the 21st century kicking and screaming. So he enlists the help and technology of the new Silver Samurai to do just that. Of course, Logan’s disgrace is key to the success of those plans, and very quickly you’ll see Wolverine on the run, hunted by the country he loves. We’ve got a damn metric ton of Ninja stabbin’ action as Logan fights to clear his name and stop this deadly new Iron Hand before it starts.”
After a late afternoon opening to the general public on Thursday, the New York Comic Con kicked into high gear today with panels, announcements and the usual con craziness we’ve come to expect from big shows. Here’s a round-up of comic-related news and announcements coming out of Friday. If you missed anything from Thursday, I’ve also got your back. I’d also point you to Brigid Alverson’s rundown of the ICv2 sessions before NYCC that go deep on comic sales in 2011 and 2012 thus far, if you’re into that.
• Keith Giffen returns to the stars next year with Threshold, a new DC Comics series that features Blue Beetle, Space Ranger, Star Hawkins, the original Starfire and other space heroes, with a Larfleeze back-up. Giffen also seemingly confirmed that the current Blue Beetle series is coming to an end.
• Vertigo announced several new projects today, including The Wake by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy, Trillium by Jeff Lemire and an Unwrtten/Fables event that will see the Unwritten characters wander into the Fables comic. Snyder said that American Vampire will go on hiatus after issue #34 so he and artist Rafael Albuquerque can catch up on it. When it returns, it’ll jump ahead to the 1960s.
Back in June, all of your Marvel comics that were priced $3.99 and up came with a free digital code to help you start a digital comics collection. You had one in your hand and one on the Internet, two comics for the price of one, right? At the register of my local comic shop, I’d remind customers that, hey, there’s a free digital comic with this issue, and I’d get some mild interest in return. I’d explain how to redeem the code in the back of the book and how Marvel.com basically saves that redeemed code on an account for you, so you can read the digital comic anywhere you can log on to the Internet, whether that’s your phone or computer or a tablet. I am again met with mild interest. I’ve explained that Avengers vs. X-Men has this special symbol where you hold your phone or whatever computer you have that has a camera, you can learn a few things about the book you’re holding. I’ve demonstrated if I have the time, showing off the cover animation on the first Avengers vs. X-Men issue, which I can’t say worked perfectly every time. But when it did, customers seemed interested, but no one leaped back from the counter, declared this the finest innovation in the world and ran down the street to declare me a witch or hail the amazing new Marvel Revolution.
I mean, I wish they had but it was always just mild interest.
Conventions | Comic-Con International spokesman David Glanzer addresses problems with the badge-buying process: “After the two aborted events last year, we learned that each person had a multitude of browsers open. That’s going to create a bottleneck no matter what you do. Were there issues? Are we trying to work on them? Yes, we are. I think people’s anger is understandable, when all they’re trying to do is pay someone for a badge to attend an event and they can’t do that. We do test after test, and lo and behold something will happen. But (selling out in) an hour 20 minutes shows us we’re getting a handle on it.” [U-T San Diego]
Comic strips | Darren Bell talks about having Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed by a neighborhood watch member, appear in his comic strip Candorville: ” I decided to incorporate him into Candorville as soon as I saw one of my Facebook ‘friends’ post a photo of Trayvon [that turned out to not be this Trayvon], flipping off his webcam. Even if that had been the real Trayvon Martin, it wouldn’t have mattered. … What this told me was people were starting to dehumanize Trayvon, so they could rationalize what happened and insulate their own belief about ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, about race, about concealed carry laws, etc., from any fallout.” [Comic Riffs]
Dear Digital Comics,
I’m sorry. I’m sorry I considered you gimmicky and fake. I’m sorry I thought that you were unwieldy on my computer screen and that your pictures were badly scanned. I’m sorry I spurned your free codes, and I looked down my nose at your formatting and strange reading interactions. Most of all, I’m sorry that, deep down in a small corner of my heart, I thought you were going to take away my job. I’ve been working at my local comic shop for more than 10 years, so that’s a long time to get set in your ways and feel that any new idea might threaten your way of life.
For a long time, I’ve really felt there was an either-or issue between print comics and digital comics. I tend to be a very partisan kind of person (Go Marvel!), so it’s not a surprise that I weighed the merits of both, made my choice and then dug in my heels. Digital comics, I felt, required so much of me technologically (a computer, a good monitor, access to the internet in some cases, etc.) that I didn’t think about all the requirements that print comics ask of readers as well (a healthy income, access to a good comic book shop, some research into what exactly was on the shelves, etc.). The way that comics are read on a screen was just going to be inherently different than the way they’re read in print and that, in a direct transfer, we were just going to lose something in the translation. Besides, there have been years and years to make the returns on print comics better than a digital file; personally, I grew up tracing the heroes in my comics to learn how to draw. You can trade them, give them away, share them with friends and some days, just put them all in a big pile and roll around like a chinchilla (not recommended). I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the big advantage that print comics have over digital: selling them. It would seem in the great debate that paper just covers digital comics for the win.