Friday, September 17, 2010

Digital Comic Floodgates

What will happen when they open up wide?

This question was proposed to me by TYLER JAMES via twitter the other day as I began to speculate about's iPad app and what would happen when they add the social feature to it like their desktop app has now. His comments, and the conversation have been on my mind ever since.

What will happen when it's possible for anyone (programmer or not) to create a comic app on the cheap? What will happen if, say possibly with HTML5, a webcomic is created in such a way that it's on par with a comic app or digital files sold on an SD Card?

Oh yeah, it's closer than you think:

"I understand that Marvel is offering certain comic stores the opportunity to promote its Digital Comics Unlimited service, which allows readers to pay a subscription for access to a library of Marvel comics, past and six-months-before-the-present-(mostly)."~BleedingCool

They're not specifically talking about SD cards but you get the idea.

What will happen when the data and formatting that goes into the creation of an app becomes easily interchangeable for multiple marketplaces (iTunes, Android, etc) by the push of a couple of buttons or key strokes?

Before we get into that, let me ask you another question from the flip side of the same coin.

Do the built in barriers of the "standard" printed comics distribution model: comics sold only through retail locations, and all retail locations pretty much only buying their comics from a single national distributor (which are responsible for keeping just anyone from selling a comic book at the national level) actually help or hinder the comic book industry?

Think about it. You can't just stroll into any comic book shop or book store across America and buy any comic book you want from any creator or publisher you want too. Some will be there to be purchased, more to be ordered, but there will be stuff you just can't get. Stuff you'd have to buy off of a facebook page or at a con.

I've heard/read professionally published creators state that they like it that way. They want a few barriers between them selves and the twelve year old in his basement making comics. The published professional often times wants their product to be sold in a professional manner and I can't say as I blame them.

Being biased I'd say the comics made here at the FBU are professional and would put them head to head on a comic book rack side by side a dozen or more publishers without so much as a second thought.

Of course, if the comic book shop was as big as a mall with racks stretching a city block then even professional level books would get lost in the shuffle wouldn't they? Hence the barriers.

Now just as I've heard/read professionals on the subject I've heard/read amateurs on the subject as well. Those same barriers can create quite an uphill battle for just anyone (with a good comic or not) getting a comic book sold at a national level.

An amateur creator can get their comic sold at the comic shops in their town, maybe towns where they have family and friends or fans who demand it. They can sell their comic at cons, off their web site, at Indyplanet and other web sites but getting their book carried on a comic rack at all the big comic book shops across the country? There are barriers holding them back (namely Diamond's thresholds).

When the digital comics floodgates are opened will consumers be able to separate the wheat from the chaff? Will they be able to locate comics they feel are worth purchasing within the river of digital comics now flowing in and out of every digital marketplace and through every hand held device?

I say yes! Yes they will.

What do you say?

Have a great weekend,


1 comment:

JimShelley said...

Caine - Yeah, I'm waiting to see if Digital Comics will become easy enough for a floodgate to open, because right now, unfortunately, it seems like ComiXology, for better or worse, may be poised to become the Digital version of Diamond.

I don't blame ComiXology for what might look like favortism on their part - they are a business with limited manpower, so they can't just put *every* comic submission they get into their digital store. However, they are becoming the defacto standard for selling your comic and unless we see something change in the way these comics are made, creators are going to be dependent on the whims of such digital vendors.

I've got my fingers crossed for the Android App Builder!


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