• The future of digital comics is now.

In my recent bit on how to save comic books, I suggested that 50 years in the future, you’d be able to get all your comic books digitally, download them to an iPod-like device and read through your collection of thousands of comic books at once.

I suggested that this was 50 years in the future as people aren’t ready to get rid of paper comics.

Well, I think I was probably about… 48 years off.

The pieces are very much already falling in place. Here are 3 new developments that take great strides in that direction:

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1) Zuda –

DC Comics was the first major comic company to jump into digital comics. Zuda is a new comics start-up that features original comic creations delivered strictly through the Zuda website.

I think the coolest part of this website is that they have created a new format that is “postcard” sized to make for easy viewing on your computer. I’ve tried to check out some comics, but the site ran too slow and I lost interest.

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2) Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited –

Then Marvel announced the creation of Digital Comics Unlimited, where, for a subscription rate, you can view a back catalog of thousands of Marvel titles on your computer. In addition, certain books that have been out for 6 months, will then become available for viewing through the subscription.

I haven’t really checked this out, because, I don’t really enjoy reading comics on my computer screen. I like to hold a book in my hands and sit anywhere I’d like and engulf myself into it. There is something about a computer screen which separates me from whatever I’m reading or watching. Like I’m looking through a window instead of seeing it live, in front of me.

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3) Amazon Kindle –

Welcome to the iPod of books. Amazon just released this beautiful device last week. With it, you can store and read books, magazines, newspapers all on a simple and high-quality portable device. You can subscribe to your favorite newspaper or magazine and they will automatically update to your Kindle wirelessly. Currently the screen is black and white, but just like the iPod, I’m sure there are already plans for a next gen, cost-effective color device.

Currently the device is in such high demand, it is sold out at Amazon.

What does this mean for comics?

Comic books need to be the innovators here. Comic books companies need to immediately start talks with Amazon to offer subscriptions to their best-selling comic books. Zuda needs to create new comics made directly for the Kindle. It’s a black and white screen, but a third of the comics I read are black and white anyway. Marvel needs to figure out how to get their back catalog on a device like this. Start up comic companies need to design comics specifically for the Kindle.

In order to take advantage of the Kindle, or similar device, we would need a “iTunes-type” store to bring you all your Marvel, DC, & independent comics. Even better, let’s sell them through Amazon. I think Amazon does a lot to represent comics on their site, right next to books and CD’s & DVD’s. If the comic companies act quick, they could be on the cutting edge of this technology.

Wouldn’t it be great for someone to see a Kindle and say “oh, that’s the comic book device.” You could bring it over to a friends house, and as they are checking out the device, they could have access to hundreds of comics… with something to surely catch their interest.

A device like this could single-handedly “re-brand” comics within a few years… in the same way that the iPod has “re-branded” portable music.

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2 comments
  1. mellon said:

    two years is probably still a bit soon… i’d say 2 for mass production, 5 for full integration in the general populus for the readers. plus, there’s stil no set format. it’s going to take someone like amazon or a major book/publishing house to set a format that everyone likes and can use that handles both colour and b/w pages. i vote that pdf will probably be the winner in some form… adobe has shown time and time again that their formats are still the easiest to use cross platform. plus you can pword protect them. great for when you’re selling them.

    the i-pod was able to re-brand portable music because music was in a format that needed something better to carry it on.

    you can’t re-brand comics with a reader. until comics have a universal file format like the mp3 that can cross many platforms (pdf?) they won’t be re-branded.

    the kindle is genious, and i’m going to do my damndest to push for our books to be made available that way, but the logistics of it are nowhere near being set enough to handle the file demands that comics tend to have.

    so while the future is now, it’s a little farther away from the universal fix than you’re thinking.

    comics will be the last to fully transition. the medium is too fragmented and incoherent.

    it’ll start how it always starts, indies first, big 2 last.

  2. At first glance the Kindle looked like another Ipod-esque rip off. I went to Amazon and watched a video about it. It’s amazing. I’d like to see Apple do something like this with the Ipod.

    If Apple brought books/newpapers/blogs in to the Ipod line up your comic book dream would come true a whole lot quicker.

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