The rise of digital comics

24 Jun

The comic book has been one of America’s most classic art forms for many years. Changes have occurred slowly over time. Some were great, like the rise of the direct market. Others were disappointing like the DC Implosion. New titles have launched and fallen. A few titles have reached an incredible history like Detective Comics and Action Comics. And yet, few changes have been as impressive as the rise of the digital comic. It is sweeping the nation and many publishers have launched apps that cater to fans willing to buy digital books. Recently, though, DC has taken an incredibly gutsy move by announcing they will be published all of their books online on the date of their print publication.

This is a move that needed to come. Most media now can be purchased digitally today. Music made the transition over twenty years ago and movies followed a few years later. Much more recently, the rise of the digital book has taken the print world by storm. In fact, one of the largest bookstores, Amazon, now sales more digital books than print. So it only makes sense that the comic book world should follow suit.

Starting in September, DC will publish each of their 52 books on the same date as their print counterpart. For the last year, they have had an app that sold digital comics, but few titles were released day and date with the print edition. This will be a revolutionary change in the comic industry. Currently, DC is the only major publisher with this plan.

So why is this a good thing for the consumer? Many comic specialty shops have stated this will be a major blow to their shops. And yet, a quick look at other types of media show that digital media didn’t destroy the industry but instead strengthened it after a period of transition. Some fans will stick to print copies of their favorite books and back issues will still need an outlet. If someone reads a digital Superman story and decides they want to see what they missed, the best bet is still to find a store.

Meanwhile, though, fans who live in the middle of nowhere like myself can still buy new issues without having to spend a fortune on gas to get to a shop. Another major pitfall that fans won’t have to worry about now is the “missed issue.” I have shopped at several stores over the years, and they all occasionally missed an issue, even if I subscribed to the book from their store. Now, that will be a problem of the past. Digital copies won’t sell out.

Finally, a word to those fans who see comics as a great way of making a fortune one day, take it from me. As a child I spent all of my money on comic books. At one point, I had over $10,000 worth of comics according to the price guides. However, when I wound up in a severe economic strain, I had to dump my books quickly to make some important bills and got $400 from my local shop. Comics will rarely be “money in the bank.” So it really shouldn’t matter what form you enjoy them in. If you like them, read them however they are available. For those willing to try out digital comics, the DC app (and Marvel, Comixology, et al) offer free issues of many books in an attempt to get you interested in them. Try it out!

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