Friday, April 25, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: Greenskin's Grab Bag

Yes, it's time for another installment of the column some people love and some people hate...

...from an email I received last week

"I like your Flashback comic, but why do you say to hate paper comics? Paper comics will be here forever being that people all love them. I wish to kick you in the head."

Look, just to set the record straight - I don't hate paper comics. I used to love them in fact.

However, given the historical record of comic sales since the 40's, I don't see much of a future for them. EVEN if you were to exclude the effect of rising Manga sales (as Paul Levitz seems wont to do.) AND the rise of trade paperback sales, you'd still be left with the onslaught of digital threats to the industry that seem ready to bust out of the gate any day now.

So, if we are all on the same page now, let's begin collecting the coffin nails...

Item 1: Somebody has found a way to make a 500,000 Gigabyte MP3 Player...

No. That's not a typo. That's 500,000 gigabytes. Now why you would want such a thing is irrelevant. If people can buy a TeraByte capable iPod, well, they are gonna get one (especially if they are mac people, cuz lord know those guys will pony up to the bar for more of that Steve Jobs coolaid, won't they?)

Why I think this is yet another sign of the oncoming paper comic apocalypse is because, well, once you've got a TeraByte capable iPods floating around, people are gonna want to put stuff on them. That's the whole Download/Own It mentality that so many online vendors don't seem to get. Having more room to download and own stuff is just going to enhance this mentality.

So people who have, oh I don't know, a site where you can only read their comics online are gonna get some pressure to make that content available offline...

...unless some joker doesn't find a way to force their hand. See our next item for details.

Item Two: Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited - Now Downloadable?

From Rich Johnston’s highly entertaining Lying In the Gutters…

Apparenty, an industrious individual named Derek Quenneville has built Digital Comic Downloader - an application that will make the Marvel Digital Comics library a little more *portable*

From Derek's site:

What it is

If you're a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, you know how awful the official web viewer is. It displays pages, sure, but it is basically useless for reading. Digital Comic Downloader brings the selected comic down to your hard drive, allowing you to choose which viewing software to use. This makes reading issues a pleasant experience, letting you make the most of your subscription. It can even combine the separate text and art layers of newer comics into flat files!

What it is not

Digital Comic Downloader is not meant for piracy. The issues that you download should be the ones that you're actually about to read (and later delete). Marvel has been very kind in not using encryption or DRM and that needs to be respected.

Further, the downloads produced are not perfect copies, so even if you had a mind to infringe copyright, what you've got is useless for archiving... But great for reading.

Marvel's response so far to Derek's application has been to patch their site so Digital Comic Downloader stops working (until Derek figures out a workaround, which doesn't seem to take him long.)

This little back and forth will entertaining to watch until Marvel brings out the suits. :P

Speaking of Marvel Suits, they, just hired a really big one on the digital side...

Item 3: Marvel has a new EVP for the Global Digital Media Group

From Heidi MacDonald's The Beat

Marvel Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: MVL) has appointed Ira Rubenstein to the position of Executive Vice President of Marvel’s newly launched Global Digital Media Group. In this newly created position, Mr. Rubenstein will oversee Marvel’s digital distribution strategy across all media and platforms.

Ira meet Derek. I think you might learn a lot from him. :D

Meanwhile at DC...

Also on the Beat...Comic sales slip in 1st quarter of 08.

Paul O'Brien tells us it's nothing to worry about due to the fact that last year was a big upturn because of Civil War.

And while, that's probably true, there are quite a few respondents to the post who suggest that it might be a more permanent downturn.

Is it possible that readers are starting to walk away from the big Company Wide Events?

Hasn't everyone been saying this day was coming, and that going down the Event comics road was just a bandaid for a bigger problem?

Well, Marvel seems to be ready to go with Secret Invasion. Sales on the first issue seem to be good (even though there seems to be some question as to whether it actually sold out or not.)

DC on the other hand.
Not so much.

Damn Marvel Indeed. :D

Item 4: Why is Apple buying PA Semi for $278 million?

Some people are speculating that Apple may come out with a bigger PSP type of gaming device.

Other people are suggesting what I’ve been saying all along, that Apple might be working on a portable Mobile Internet Device (or beefing up the iPod Touch.)

I think the latter is the better bet. The gaming market is extremely tough, and currently, even if Apple did come out with an awesome portable gaming device, there are absolutely no games with any hype around them for people to purchase. Apple would almost have to build the first wave of games themselves (A VERY risky proposition) before other game companies would jump on board.

No, I think that you don't have to look any further than Amazon's Kindle to see where Apple is headed with this one. Even though it is heartstoppingly ugly, the Kindle sold out initially. At $400 a pop, that's pretty good. Remember, the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player - it was simply better than anything out at the time. Improving other people's devices is sort of Apple's forte, isn't it?

"But is anyone actually reading/buying books for the Kindle?"

Yes, people are apparently buying quite a lot of eBooks it seems.

So, stringing all these various bits of news together, of course it can only mean one thing. Paper Comics are doomed and no amount of kicks to the face can save them. :D

Total PCDW Points for all Items: 15,000

1 comment:

Caine said...

Derek over at Games, Life, and stuff just took his downloader down:

"I've decided to take down Digital Comic Downloader. I'm all about digital distribution as where comics need to go, so I'm afraid of making it less palatable to companies like Marvel (and others in the future) by causing any cold feet..."

~Content Digital


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