So despite my moniker of “The Geek”, I’m actually super cool. Well, I mean, I’m not cool now, I do a webcomics podcast and occasionally wear black socks with shorts, however I was super cool growing up. Well, actually not so much super cool, but I was cool enough to not have any friends. A fact that prevented me from getting into Dungeons & Dragons, comics, and Magic the Gathering until much later in life.
As such, my experience with the nerd-mini-Mecca that is the comic book shop is one completely untainted by nostalgia and it’s cousin, whimsy. This makes me probably the worst person ever to review a comic like The Rack, which takes place almost exclusively in a comic shop and with comic shop people (on the other hand, I still totally love Our Valued Customers, so go figure).
Jason, on the other hand, is a jerk and a bully and was never cool so he knows comic shops like the back of his hand so he was all for this little foray down memory lane. We talk about where the comic works and about the dangers of such a niche comic. We speak of the importance of character development and how it related to comics and sitcoms. We yammer on about states and pricesses and parenting and race relations (trust me it makes sense in the moment).
Before I begin, make sure to click the link at the bottom of this post to read the full article. It includes lots of details that I won’t go into here, but is well worth the read.
It’s not hard to see why some retailers and/or publishers might be reticent about jumping into the digital distribution craze that’s sweeping through the comics industry. The money stream completely changes and, in most cases, shrinks, and no one wants less money for their product. However, a panel went down at Comic-Con this year where that very real conundrum was discussed, with Scott Kurtz and Mark Waid (representing the Web and paper comic book communities, respectively) heading up the rundown.
Whether they’re laughing and skipping or kicking and screaming, retailers are seeing the revenue being missed in the digital stream and are largely ready to get their share. But with the big two (Marvel and DC) putting more and more content online, there is too much money to be missed by not offering some sort of service to that end, not to mention the squelching of the pirating movement, which is a big problem for nearly any form of entertainment these days. DC is even launching an initiative this Fall, to coincide with their line-wide relaunch of nearly every title they put out, which will see all of their comics coming to the digital marketplace day-and-date with the paper editions. While prices will keep many people from picking up the digital copy in its first month (when the price will be the same as the shelf copy), I know I can certainly wait a month to read the stories I want to read without having to mess with storing a physical copy afterwards.
Also of note in this discussion is the idea of formatting content for reading on digital devices, mostly made up of the growing iPad contingent. Notably, Love and Capes creator Thom Zahler keeps this in mind when laying things out and adjusts accordingly. The more the digital thought process permeates the comics industry, the more this kind of thinking will have to become second nature. Of course, oddballs that must be read in a certain context and fashion will still exist because as long as people care about comics as a storytelling device, there will exist a niche of creative, mind-expanding content.
Being nearly the last comic publisher to jump on the digital bandwagon (unless you count Zuda, which only gets a half-pass from me considering they still use Flash for their viewing model), DC Comics quietly released their app for the iPhone and iTouch this morning. Twitter followers quickly leached onto this and retweeted the news into oblivion: