Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year From Flashback!

This New Year's image comes to us from Diego Tripodi, who drew the TRex BackStory. Diego also told me that he is currently working on a comic that has been selected to be in the January Zuda Competition! Way To Go Diego!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Top Ten Digital Comic News Stories of 2007

Hey, I'm back, and I hope you enjoyed your Holidays as much as I did! Well, with the year winding up, I thought it be nice to look back at 2007 and rundown the big news stories in the world of Digital Comics for 2007.

Note: Please don't try and figure out why one story ranks higher than another. In most cases, it's just an arbitrary call made by me...

1) Chrono/Theme packs become the big fad among the digital comic uploaders
For those of you who are not familiar with the term Chrono Pack, it's a torrent of comics of a specific character arranged in chronological order, thus the name. The most famous of these is the Marvel Chrono pack which saw a reseed on Zcult with a version 2 of the earlier packs. In addition to this, there was also a huge rise in C-list Chrono packs including... The Man-Bat Chrono Pack, The Freedom Fighters Chrono Pack, Galaxy of the Guardians Chrono Pack, Man-Wolf Chrono Pack... you get the idea. It seemed like every 3rd rate character was now the subject of a Chrono pack.

At the same time, Theme packs picked up steam as people started torrents on Witches, Werewolves, Zombies and Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis and Warren Ellis. While nothing new, there was quite a proliferation of these type of torrents this year.

2) Lost Girls is downloaded by over 65,000 people.
Now, if only half of those had been given the opportunity to *buy* the digital version at $1.00 a pop, imagine how much more money Top Shel would have made off the book.

3) Todd Allen becomes a columnist at ComicBookResources
For those of you not familiar with the knowledgeable Mr. Allen, I will introduce him here as the _EXPERT_ in all things Web Comics. His book, The Economics of Web Comics is MUST reading for anybody considering a future in Web Comics.

....a quick read will reveal that no one at Zuda read the book, but that's neither here or there...

While not *directly* related to Digital Comics per se, I think it's significant that reading comics on the web have gained enough traction amongst the mainstream comic readers that comicbookresources saw fit to have Allen start his column. Also, Allen sometimes has interesting notes about the Digital Comics scene (though he's not the Digital Comics nerd that I am...)

4) Amazon starts selling Kindles.
They look like crap and are way overpriced, but one day, you might be able to read American Flagg on them while sitting in an airport. Not really a Digital Comics new related item, but it's a step in the right direction, so there you go.

5) A developer in Australia develops a way to read comics on iTunes
Here's the link to the original post I did about this story.
Note: I have actually used this last week and flashback comics look great on the new iPod.

6) Marvel launches its Digital Comics Universe
Yeah, it's wrapped in an half assed Flash interface and NO they are not downloadable, but still full comic books on the web are a good thing right? Yeah...I know. I'll see you in alt.binaries.comics.reposts...

7) DC lauches Zuda
While DEFINITELY not Digital Comics, the Zuda project, like Marvel's DCU is an acknowledgement by one of the major players that the web is where the future is. I predict that DC launches its own Digital Comic site next year as well.

8) Marvel pulls its liscensing from GIT
So, once Marvel decided to launch its DCU it also pulled the liscensing for the PDF collections of comics on DVD that GIT was making. While I'm not a fan of PDF comics, this really feels like bad move. Here's the original story from the FB blog:

9) Slave Labor Graphis starts
While not given as much ink as Zuda or Marvel's DCU, Eyemelt was definitely the best in class example of how to sell Digital Comics in the year 2007. Besides having a great assortment of comics, Eyemelt provides users with a very easy system for buying their comics instantly. Dan Vado and company are to be commended! The aholes at PullBoxOnline should take note.

10) DC and Marvel send Zcult (and other torrent sites) cease and desist orders.
I don't think this will surprise anyone who's a regular at this blog. What I do think most of us found surprising was just what an uproar this little incident caused the *mainstream* comics web world. 3 years ago, I'd argue that the phrase Zcult meant nothing by and large to your average comic book message board poster. This year, it was a rallying call.

Well, that's all for this year. Quite a list aye?

I eagerly anticipate 2008!

Now, go get drunk! :D

- Jim

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Break

I'm headed home for the Holidays, so I don't know how much posting I'll be able to do, so in the meantime, Pierre and I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Behold! The Power of Prometheus!

Chad Bowers happened to send me some of the great artwork Chris Nye has been working on for their Prometheus I thought I'd share a few of the pages here.

For those of you just joining us, this particular Prometheus story is going to guest star Amanita and picks up from the last* issue of Prometheus where he was at the mercy of that Hoodoo Powered Heavy Metal band Blood Money.

This is Chris' first time at coloring a comic in Photoshop, and the results are looking great! Check out these pages...

Here is the Opening Splash page with Prometheus being strangled by a Sonic Serpent. (Which is just what I'm calling it. btw...)

Here we see Amy Nettles slipping off to a discreet place to change into her superpowered alter ego - Amanita.

And here we have Prometheus and Amanita ready to wail on Blood Money.

I actually saw quite a bit more pages than this and they all had that awesome 70's vibe about them that you see here, so you can imagine how jazzed I am about this comic!

Maybe Friday, I'll show you some more pages from Chris Sims' So Falls The World comic...

*Note: The *last issue* thing is just a joke. Please don't email me asking if there really are any other issues of Prometheus. :D

Monday, December 17, 2007

Two for One Monday: What's Scanned in the Harvey Universe

First a confession.

I love the old Harvey comic books. When I was a kid, I would read with equal enjoyment Hotstuff, Casper and Richie Rich as well as The Flash, Hulk and Tarzan. To me they were all just stories, each one taking you to their own special world with their own idiosyncratic artwork.

Confession 2: Last year, I came *this* close to actually starting an offshoot of Flashback Universe based on my own Harvey like world of characters. However, I decided that currently I didn't have the time or resources to pursue such an endeavor, so for now, that project is on the backburner...

Note: if you scratch Artifact, I think you'll see a little Irona underneath. This is one of those places where Pierre, upon reading my blog entry will scratch his head and say, "uh...I don't see it..." :D

Currently, because of many different factors, there are really one 3 places to find Harvey comic stories.

1) On Ebay.

2) On Amazon in b/w collections by Dark Horse (which I picked up. In black and white, the fine linework of the artwork really stands out...)

and 3) as scanned versions.

I really think that overall the scanned versions are our best bet for seeing the entire Harvey library preserved in some form.

I know it's easy to shake the finger of shame at the comic book scanners, but I think that 50 years from now, when paper is rationed out because of the great tree shortage, you'll thank the scanners for preserving these comics.

Anyway, without further adieu, I present:

[ What's Scanned in the Harvey Universe ]

Click the link above to see exactly what Harvey comics have been scanned so far. It's really quite impressive to see just how many have NOT been scanned yet. I really had no idea Harvey put out so many comics during their short tenure as a comic publisher.

Notice that page 2 says: "Print this and take it with you."

Wise words. ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Two for One Monday: New guys in a.b.dcp?

This is part 1 of a 2 part article to make up for not posting on Friday...

So for those of you wanting the latest update on what's going on in the world of illegal comic book scanning check this out...apparently last week, another scanning group (or someone) decided to post the Minutemen scans to the alt.binaries.dcp group.

And this apparently caused a sh!tst0rm of controversy, because it's a newsgroup and doing anything in a newsgroup causes drama...

First, check out all the comics scanned by MinuteMen that were posted to this group:

For those of you who've been following my blog over the past few months, you'll remember my prophetic Hydra remark when I first mentioned the possible departure of the DCP group from the scanning scene.

Well, DCP is still alive and well, but apparently several other groups are making motions to become the top scanning group now.

Business TakeAways:
1) Marvel and DC can not stop illegal comic scanning/downloading
2) Users are becoming increasingly savy about how to *find* things on the internet
3) Marvel and DC are eventually going to be forced into a downloadable comics business model.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What do the colored spheres mean?

I got a letter from a Flashback Fan who I'll call Grizz asking this question...

I just happened to run across your website and read through a couple of the comics. I liked them and have now ended up downloading all of them. Anyways, my question is simple, on the characters page of your website what do all those stats mean? I couldn't find anything that told what they are, I assume they are classic Pen & Paper rpg equivalents like strength, dexterity/agility, etc but have no idea which color dot = what. Keep up the good work man.

What Grizz is referring to are these spheres on the character pages of the website..

Well, Grizz is correct that I'm am using a form of rpg shorthand to describe the attributes of each character. However, I'm not going to go so far as tell you what each color means, because I think if you look at the various different characters, you can figure it out. :)

"Why did you do that instead of just write up their origins and powers, you know Marvel Handbook style?"

Good Question. Here's why, and I think this is something a lot of people who pitch stories to me don't understand...

A character's powers and origins don't make that character interesting. What's more important is:

1) The sense of mystery and discovery that comes with reading about a new character.
2) The personality of the character.
3) The conflicts the character must deal with.

Yeah, I know, those sound like no-brainers, but I'll be damned if they aren't overlooked by people all the time. (And not just in the world of comics either. Look no further than that Hugh Jackman train wreck Van Helsing for an example in the movie world)

I will humbly submit to you that the Beast is one of the lamer (powerwise) characters to ever wear an Avengers badge, but his personality made him a fan favorite for a long time. Conversely, Iron Man, with all of his cool gadgets and stuff, never interested me until he became a raging drunk in the 80's.

So when the time came for me to put together the Flashback website, I decide I wasn't going to yak about the characters origins or powers but instead let one character describe another.

This is typically how you really find out about things anyway - your friends tell you about it. And with that, I'd like to thank Phil Looney for cluing me into the wonders of blogger. :D

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Why Zuda (and other Flash Image Viewers) distort text in Web Comics

Disclaimer:It's going to seem like I'm picking on Zuda, but that's not my intention. However, the Distorted Font Question keeps coming up again and again when people talk about Zuda, so I'm going to try and explain why it happens and how you as a web comic creator can minimize the effect.

Note: I had to post this information on another page altogether as blogger doesn't seem to like Flash files, so here is the link to the full article...

Why Flash mucks with your fonts...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What's Scanned and Unscanned in the DC Universe

I was asked via email about exactly how many comics have been scanned thus far (which is really such a hard question to answer because people scan the NEDOR comics for gosh sakes, so when you ask that question, I'm at a lost for a frame of reference...)

Anyway, I'm going to attempt to answer at least *part* of the question by posting the latest version of What's Scanned and Unscanned in the DC Universe - consider this a partial answer...feel free to examine the linked file and come back here for can navigate the page by clicking along the tabs at the bottom.

NOTE: I did not create this list. It is maintained by someone called the Phantom Stranger who does a remarkable job keeping up with all the new scans!

One of the first things you'll notice is that there are apparently only 3002 DC comics left to scan, and then ALL of DC publish content will have been scanned! Pretty amazing when you consider how long DC has been around.

I believe that the scanners are doing a good thing btw, as I doubt DC will ever get around to reprinting Binky, Bob Hope, ect...I'm glad someone is preserving those comics in some fashion.

A lot of the Unscanned stuff are Romance comics - not surprising as there lot a lot of sentimental attachment to those titles for the majority of the scanners.

If you click on the Scanned tab, be prepared to wait as that page loads - its a 15 meg html document... :P

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Comics On Paper?

So a lot of people ask me am I totally down on printed comics? Well, that depends on what you might be talking about.

If you are talking about the 22 page stapled advertising supplements that Marvel puts out that *just* happen to have 1/6th of a complete New Avengers story in them, then yes - I hate those things.

If you are talking about Hard Cover collected editions of the same storyline or complete runs of a book, then no. I LOVE collected Trades of comics! For those of you wondering what to give me for Christmas, hint, hint...

Not only do you get a complete story without being bombarded by *Music is my AntiDrug!* ads, but they also appreciate in value!

Behold the power of limited print runs!

Marvel's Recent Annihilation Vol 1 HC is climbing in value on eBay...

This btw was a GREAT little mini-series!

As is Morrison's run on New X-men

This is funny because it's almost a testament to how little attention the Cult of Morrison pays to Previews...

Finally, the reigning champ of Quick Increasing in Value Hard Cover Collections - The Eternals Omnibus!

Now here are my picks for things I *think* will be out of print soon...

The Daredevil Omnibus by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson

I really think this book has a lot of promise for increasing in value as 1) Frank Miller's fan base will probably increase as he continues to do movies and 2) Marvel will probably do another Daredevil movie one day.

My next pick is cheaper than the Daredevil Omnibus, so it might be a better bet for selling out...

The Brubaker run on Captain America

Finally, my off the wall bet is this little gem that was recommended to me by Chris Sims at the ISB...

I picked that one because its cheap AND its Kirby. It's also a kick ass collection of comics! The Kirby fans are driving the price of the Eternals Omnibus up, so I'm guessing the same thing will happen with this collection eventually.

Feel free to speculate... :D

Monday, December 3, 2007

Zcult AfterMath Screenshots

First a quick update on my problem with PullBoxOnline:
A reader pointed out last week that the screenshot I posted showed the charge was pending and maybe I would get my comics once the payment was approved by BankOfAmerica. Well, by this latest screenshot, you can see the payment was approved.

However, I still have not gotten the Pullbox email with the link to the comics OR a reply to my request for help email.

TakeAway 1: Pullbox Online Sucks.

Meet the New Zcult...

Check out the current list of comic torrents on Zcult now that they are abidding by the DC/Marvel Cease and Desist letters...Quite an interesting assortment of titles to say the least.

What I think is telling is that according to Serj, the admin at Zcult, he had 74K registered users of ZCult. That number does not include the number of people who accessed the torrents via direct links to the trackers OR referrals from other Torrent-Tracker sites...

It will be interesting to see what this newly established audience of comic downloaders does now that it is harder to find Marvel/DC comics in easy to read cbr format. Will they stop reading cbr comics altogether or move on to other titles?

I suspect that a large majority of them are going to download and try out some of the comics they've never heard about. It'll be interesting to see what happens then.

Also notable was the huge amount digital ink that the Zcult situation generated. Over the past 2 weeks, I think Zcult has gotten more press coverage than it has in its entire existence. Over at Newsarama, the various threads discussing the situation went on for pages and pages.

TakeAway2: It's safe to say we've come a long ways from the days when such a topic would have just resulted in a small handful of posters saying, 'I just want to read my comics in paper format...' The age of the Digital Comic Readership is definitely here.

Meanwhile, what's going on with a.b.dcp?

Well, here's a screenshot of the dcp newsgroup's posts from last week. I've just filtered on those files ending in .cbr. Looks like the group is still alive and kicking hard.

And if that wasn't enough, other people have taken to posting the dcp scans to other groups. Here is a screenshot of files ending in .cbr in the a.b.boneless group.

TakeAway 3: Two people scanned Scooby-Doo? That should definitely say something about the number of scanners around the globe. :D

And finally, the screenshot to end them all..

Here is the torrent site that laughs at cease and desist orders: Pirate Bay. On their site, they actually have a link to all the cease and desist orders they've gotten from various companies. I don't know exactly how they are able to operate so brazenly, but there you go.

TakeAway 4: I don't see illegal comics downloading abating until legal comics downloading is a reality.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Heidi downloads comics?

So check this out - from the Beat - which btw is a GREAT blog if you've never checked it out.

We’re especially sad about all this because we’ve been getting rid of tons of books we had around the house for reference, thinking “Well, if we REALLY need it, we can just go to Z-cult”…and now THIS happens. Sheesh.

I wouldn't have pegged Heidi as being *one of us.* :D

Pullbox Online part 2

So yesterday at 5:30 am I sent an e-mail via the Pullbox Online *Contact Us* form where I asked them when would be able to get the comics I paid for.

Check out this half assed Contact Us form by the way...

Anyway, this morning this is what I got in my in-box:

Thanks for checking us out!
This is just an automagic reply to let you know we've received your message and
we'll get back to you as quickly as possible after that.

Still no comics, or a real response from a human being...

So far, this online digital comics experience has pretty well sucked.

Suddenly the Marvel Online Digital Universe doesn't seem so bad. :D

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

While I wait on Pullbox Online...

Having mentioned Eyemelt several times last week, I thought I also take some time this week to review IDW's Online initiative:

So, last night I purchased 5 comics from the Pullbox website. The steps were simple enough:

1) Enter in your email address
2) Pick a password to use when visiting the site
3) Select your comics
4) Enter in your credit card info and hit Submit...

Well, I got a confirmation screen saying I'd be e-mailed a link to download the comics (which is similar to how Eyemelt does it.)

However, that was last night, and now, 8 hours later, I still haven't gotten that e-mail.

Hm, but they were kind enough to charge my Visa card already. :P

When I tried to login to the Pullbox site to check the status of my order, I found my username/email wasn't recognized by the system. :P

Not Cool.

I'll keep you posted on this while I get the situation sorted out.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The SLG - ZCult FM mixup

Over the weekend, there seeems to have been quite a bit of mixup over whether Slave Labor Graphics would allow Zcult-FM to torrent their digital comics. (which I predicted earlier this week.)

From Serj, the Site Admin at Z-Cult:

Our statement and update in response to this news article:

UPDATED 25th Nov 2007 - 02:21)

In our first news post on this subject we posted the following statement from SLG Publishing:

To the members of Z-Cult:

SLG publishing would like to thank the moderators and forumers of Z-Cult for the respect they have shown in regards to our ban request. Obviously, our preference is to have each comic legally paid for, and the efforts undertaken to honor this desire have clearly shown that Z-Cult is not a forum overrun by those expecting a free ride. In return, we have decided to lift the ban from our independently published titles being distributed on Z-Cult. Of course, this is not an entirely selfless act - we hope that exposure to our large library of titles will help encourage support of our legal download site,

It is our belief that there is a market for legally downloadable comic books, and we hope that we can prove this to the comics industry by showing success through our our digital distribution system.

Unfortunately we cannot lift the ban on any SLG/Disney titles, for reasons that should be obvious. These titles are limited to: The Haunted Mansion, Tron, Gargoyles and Wonderland. Our apologies for being unable to allow sharing on these particular titles.

For those of you who took the time and effort to report and remove our material, and particularly to those who undertook the process of re-uploading your torrents over and over without complaint, thank you.

SLG Publishing

(Serj has) just been in contact with Dan (Owner of SLG Publishing) who has said this statement DID NOT come from him and DID NOT come from this company.

(Serj has) been in contact with Dan and SLG Publishing over this issue and the following is the reason behind this mix up.

Many months ago someone on behalf of SLG Publishing contacted (Serj) requesting (Zcult) removed SLG books from our website. As standard procedure we asked the e-mailer to verify who they said they were and their position in the company. The user provided proof they were speaking on behalf on SLG Publishing and so (Zcult) removed the books. Dan has stated in his recent email to (Zcult) that the user WAS requesting the removal of their books on behalf of himself. So (Serj's) background research was 100% correct.

When this same user emailed (Serj) the other day from same account with this statement from SLG Publisher it was taken to be 100% official and the user stated it was from the company as a whole. This was taken as official by (Serj) due to our earlier contact with this user and email account. So much to (his) surprise tonight (Serj) was informed the owners did not issue this statement so (Zcult) removed this post until we could verify it.

(Serj) contacted Dan directly and informed him of everything (Serj) had gotten from the person claiming to be SLG publishing and this is the email issued in response by Dan from SLG Publishing.

Hello Serj,

[I HAVE REMOVED NAME] is a freelance writer. He did, with my knowledge, contact you in regards to having you take down SLG content from your site when we started EYEMELT.COM.

However he is not in a position to make policies, especially in regard to something like this. We never asked him to make a statement about removing the ban. This being an American holiday I was unaware of any problems with your site and Marvel/DC since I was out of my office and not checking my email. I was not even aware of any statement on our behalf until I was contacted by a comics news site for additional comment.

[SERJ REMOVED NAME] obviously wrote the statement himself. I'm not certain why he felt he had the right to make a statement on our company's behalf without contacting me. I'm sorry if you came out looking bad on this as I do believe you were acting under the impression that [REMOVED NAME] was sending you something on our behalf. Again, why he thought he could issue a statement on my company's behalf without contacting me is beyond explanation. [REMOVED NAME] is very devoted to the notion of digital comics and he must have felt he was acting in everyones best interests.

I'll be issuing an amended statement on our blog and news site and I will be sure to mention that you posted the SLG statement under the honest assumption it was from us. As for the lifting of the ban, just so you can come away from this with something, you can go ahead and make our stuff available for download. I am not certain what our digital plans are going to be in the coming year, so I may come back and ask you to drop them again.
Dan Vado

So there we go. I followed up this email asking if they wanted banners as stated in the "offical" statement that turned out to be false and Dan said:


As for the banners, go ahead and leave them up for now. Lets see if there is any jump in sales long term because of this.

Sooo SLG comics still good to go and banners remain..

I am sorry for any confusion this might have caused but seems a little mix up and confusion has taken place on both sides.

End of Serj's Post.

UPDATE: Here is more information from Blog@Newsarama...

My biggest take away from all this is I'm a little curious about Dan's comments about what his future digital plans might be. Also, I think it's really quite awesome of him to support Zcult-FM by allowing Zcult to torrent the SLG books.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Marvel and DC send Zcult FM a Cease and Desist Order

Well, here we have the second shoe dropping. This week Marvel and DC teamed up, but not to present a classic adventure with Spider-Man or Superman. Instead they got together and sent ZCult-FM a cease and desist letter. (For those of you just joining us, Zcult-FM is the longest lived and most famous torrent site for comics on the net)

It is reported that per the letter, Zcult has 3 days to remove all DC/Marvel content from their site before DC/Marvel takes any further action. (I'm told that Zcult is going to abide by the letter and only provide non DC/Marvel comic related torrents in the future.)

For more commentary on the matter check these links:

From Forevergeek...

...Obsessive comicbook fans who absolutely must read every single issue that comes out from their beloved titles, or completists that want to read every single issue that is included in massive yearly crossover events can either do two things — spend a majority of their income buying comicbooks or download digitally scanned copies of the comics. For a growing number of collectors, digital comics has been a salve to soothe acute wallet burnout. They can now scan favorite titles or look for issues that they have missed. This makes them buy comics with a bit of foreknowledge, allowing them to just get issues that they really love and skip those that do not pass their personal scrutiny...

From Shotgun Reviews...

This shut down of ZCult is a big blow to readers of downloaded comics, but it is far from the only site on the internet that hosts them. People will be able to find other places if this one is in fact shut down. What’s different about ZCult from most is the online community that has formed there. Some of the most active, and intelligently debated, forums on the comic ‘net can be found in their message board section. Add to that reviews, a podcast, and weekly previews, and you have a full on comic site being run by no one actively involved in the industry, except as fans. According to Serj, Marvel’s demands included the complete shut-down of the site, including these community features. This seems odd, and really, a little vindictive to many involved with the site.

From TorrentFreak...

Another high note, Z-Cult FM’s admin just announced some really good news. Seems that there are benefits to having your material available on BitTorrent after all. Serj explains:

A comic publisher we talked to while ago who wanted their books banned from our site for their own reasons have just PMed/Emailed me to revoke the ban and are happy for us to share their files here.

From ComicsCommentary.blogspot

The scanning and pirating of comics will continue in the near future (there are still many other sites in which these comics are available for free), but Marvel and DC taking joint action against the best-known sites surely will have some effect. My guess is that new sites will pop up to fill the void left by Z-Cult FM and the also recently-shut down Demonoid, but that some of these new sites may end up having more restricted memberships (an "only by invitation" system).

My Thoughts on the Cease and Desist:

1) It was only a matter of time. I'm surprised it took so long. (Then again, DC *did* just launch their first internet initiative, which is basically a Web Comics site.)

2) It's plain to see that Marvel has gotten DC to reverse their don't ask don't tell policy on comic downloads, as 2 years ago at HeroesCon, Dan Didio himself said DC thought that comic downloads HELPED comics. (His reasoning? Because people couldn't afford to follow every title in a huge company crossover...)

3)How many times has Pirate Bay been sent cease and desist orders? And as of yesterday, they seem to be operating just fine. So, this is really sort of Marvel/DC's way of treating the symptom and ignoring the desease.

4) The mystery publisher who is going to be allowing Zcult to torrent their titles? Don't be surprised if it turns out to be Slave Labor Graphic's Dan Vado. Dan has proven time and time again that he is a true *Out of the Box* thinker, so I don't doubt that he recognizes the value of Zcult's Viral influence on comics readers.

Stay tuned for more as this story develops...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

GIT Loses Marvel Liscense, gains Archie


According to a letter to retailers posted on his company’s website by GIT Corp President Raymond K. Pelosi, GIT will no longer offer Marvel comic books on DVD-ROM. The question of how the collections would work in conjunction with Marvel’s new online comics initiative had been raised by many fans when the publisher’s plan was announced.

Over the years, GIT had released collections of Marvel titles from Fantastic Four to Amazing Spider-Man, the X-Men, Avengers, and more. Popular with many fans, the issues in the GIT collections were scanned in copies, presented in pdf format. Utilizing the technology, GIT would collect decades worth of issues on single DVDs.

A poster in the a.b.comics.dcp group (Santa Cthulhu) put it well by saying:

...removing the legitimate option for people who want to legally purchase a digital
version they can own and enjoy at their convenience instead of waiting for Marvel's site to get back up so they can read a rented copy from a spotty selection.

My opinion on this is that it's bad and shortsighted marketing to promote the product you want to sell by removing all other even vaguely related alternatives that could possibly take away sales from a non-competitive rival, especially when the previous product has decent sales *and* customer demand and the new one is still an unproven test with a noticeably flawed implementation.

And already on various message boards and such, a lot of people are expressing disappointment that the upcoming Thor and Daredevil or whatever collections they were looking forward to/saving up for will no longer be produced.

I was saving up for Avengers, X-Men, and maybe FF, myself. I think this kind of puts recent events into perspective, and I'm petty enough to hope that Marvel's subscription service tanks just because of all the DVD-buyers they're letting down so they can push their shiny new subscription model.

Guess I know what I'm not spending my holiday money on this year.

Best regards,

I agree with Santa Cthulhu, this strikes me as a bad move, unless Marvel is intending to offer such collections on their own. Regular readers of this blog know how I feel about PDF comics, but even I must admit the GIT Marvel collections were a great idea. I'll be sorry to see them go.

On the upside, it will be nice to have The Archie library available in this format.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Introducing: Kindle! Amazon's New WiFi Reader

Is this the new face of the digital reader revolution?

Uh...I certainly hope not, because it's sort of butt ugly. :P

Honestly, I would have been *Wowwed!* by this type of device back in 1992, but since then, the look and feel of hand-held devices has sort of moved on from the plastic Soviet Issue/Bad Radio Shack walkie talkie era hasn't it? I mean, did the design department at Amazon not learn anything from how the iPod's aesthetic superiority kicked the Zune's ass?

Seriously, it looks like a cross between a Texas Instruments calculator from 1982 and a Mattel Merlin..

But I know what you're saying..."Jim! How can you condemn such a neat device on just looks alone..."

Good point! Let's evaluate the price: $400.

Wow. For about the same price, I can get a cheap laptop that has wireless access, can read books and comics AND I can install games and programs on it as well.

And currently the votes by reviewers is running 74 5 Star reviews versus 146 1 Star reviews
Hm..maybe Amazon will have a better time winning me over as time goes by and new models of the Kindle come out. (Does anyone but me get an awkward *book burning* vibe from that name?)

In the meantime, I eagerly await Amazon's next awesome product - The Radio Hat!

On the Flipside:

Marvel corrected the double charge for my purchase of one month of the Digital Comics Unlimited. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Random Digital Comics Screenshots

Here are some random screenshots from my pc that tell a bigger story.

First up - me getting Double Charged by Marvel's new Digital Comics Online system. :P

Be sure to stick around while I get this little mess sorted out.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase Two In One, doesn't it?

Next up, a sampling of some of the messages being posted in the alt.binaries.comics.dcp newsgroup.

There is still a lot of hand wringing going on in the DCP group about the fate of the newsgroup...and yet, what do we have here? Why, it's a torrent with all of this week's comics scanned by DCP? Guess the group is alive and well after all.

Finally, I check on a daily basis to see if Marvel has added Marvel Premiere 31 to their list of downloadable comics. So far they haven't, but I'm still hoping I'll see this one day...

Notes Concerning this Post:

1) DO NOT e-mail me asking where you can download bootleg comics. It's something I acknowledge, but do not advocate. If you want to download comics, go to Wowio, EyeMelt, PullboxOnline or download one of mine.

2) Seems like Marvel removed the online ads they had on their Digital Comics website. Just as well, they seemed to be very buggy, in many cases hiding the other menus and such. Also, I think there is something just plain broken with that little Flash menu...

3) Someone took the time to scan Captain Carrot. Pretty dedicated, aye?

4) Chris Sims doesn't get WoodGod. Doesn't think he's funny in the slightest. Someone feel free to set him straight. On the flipside, Phil Looney not only *gets* WoodGod, but has found a way to make Kang the Conqueror hilarious!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited - Where's WoodGod?

Well, Monday/Tuesday, Marvel announced their Digital Comics Unlimited - their first REAL venture into the world of Digital Comics (I don't really count the previous versions as anything but mere Flash advertising campaigns.)

Since this announcement, my fastmail inbox has been swamped with e-mails from various friends asking me for my opinion on Marvel's site.

I wanted to get an article out as quickly as possible, but as it turned out, the launch date of the site corresponded with my wife's Fencing Practice night, so I was in charge of watching our 2 year old daughter all night. (Which was actually a lot of fun, because we went and saw the Bee Movie, which we both enjoyed.)

ASIDE: The Bee Movie is quite awesome. Do yourself a big favor and go see it. :)

The launch of the site was preceded by a rather awkward bit of internet journalism as Newsarama broke the news from a Canadian news agency, only to have to retract it and post an update.

Regardless, the post on the news from Newsarama quickly blew up into a huge thread with most posters all wondering why Marvel wasn't going to let you download the comics. Site unseen, the Flash interface for reading these new comics was getting condemned, and to be honest, I must admit, I was one of the guys throwing stones at the press release.

Anyway, I hope I was able to tide all the loyal readers of this blog with links to the opinions from Phil Looney and Jason Wright.

As the week progresses, if other Flashback creators comment (see image <-- ) on the site, I'll be sure to post either their comments or links to their blogs here. :)

So, with all that aside, let us dissect this puppy...

Things that made WoodGod Happy...

Yeah, I'm gonna start with the good things about this new site, because I actually think there are quite a number of them. However there is also some *room for improvement* and *areas of opportunity* for the whole site, so bear with me.

1) The price seems fair - for $60 I can have access to a wide array of Marvel comics on my computer without taking up any hard disk space. That's really nice.

2) They seem to have a nice assortment of titles on the site. I saw comics ranging from the 60's to the Modern Day. Strangely, I even saw a few that seem to violate the 6 Month Publication date rule (Omega, The Unknown)

3) The scans are really top notch! I viewed a Bronze Age Captain America comic and was amazed at the clarity of both the colors and lettering. NOTE: I did have to fiddle with my browser size to get the page to appear sharp, but I suspect on a 17 inch monitor, no such tweaking would be necessary.

Things that made WoodGod go WTF..

Got this message while exploring the site and it pretty much killed the whole experience for me, as I was unable to access the site from then on. it just me, or do you only ever see this message when sites are using MySql? Seriously - can anyone send me a similar message from a Microsoft SQL Server?

I'm sure in the right environment, MySQL has it's uses...'s just not for me.

Still, I think it really says something about the validity of such an idea (Digital Comics) that for the first two days the site has been running, the server's been too busy to accomodate all the requests to the site.

On the flipside, people don't like paying a monthly fee for a site they can't access!

Not to mention the CRUCIAL loss of good first impressions Marvel needed to make with this launch.

Things that made WoodGod Mad...

1) No downloadable comics - Wow, did you see that one coming? Seriously, has anyone at Marvel Corporate looked at the history of such sites as People, especially us greedy Americans, really like to KEEP what we buy, and not being able to download and store your comics from the Marvel site seems like a huge oversite.

2) That interface is still pretty awkward. I've noticed quite a number of people saying the found the interface difficult to understand or clumsy. You don't hear prople say that about CDisplay.

3) This is NOT the iTunes of Comics we were hoping for. With all the media hype that this site is getting, I'm afraid the idea of Marvel delivering their comics in a nice downloadable cbr format are pretty much gone. I also suspect that DC will probably do something similar, so we end up having to read the complete I, Vampire or Black Orchid in some ghastly Zuda interface.

4) No Woodgod. - Nuff Said.


As long as the keep posting things like this:

...I'll probably keep checking out the site, but I'll be wishing I could download the comics everytime. :D

Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited (pre post 2)

Jason's Comic Shelf- I totally agree with him on the lack of a Downloadable option..

Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited (pre post)

While I work up a full review of Marvel's new Digital Comics site, please enjoy this great review from Phil Looney's Poptown blog!:)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

RIP for the DCP?

Last week saw a bit of turmoil in the DCP newsgroup as one of the more well known posters (Ourobouros) found himself served with an e-mail from the DMCA (Digital Milleneum Copyright Act)

This resulted in quite a number of back and forth posts in alt.binaries.comics.dcp devoted to how the newsgroup, and all downloadable comics in general, would soon be disappearing.

Yet, that didn't seem to happen. Wednesday came, and the 0-day scans still appeared in the group, as well as the associated torrent trackers, so I suspect that just like Hydra, if you serve one comic book scanner with a cease and desist from their ISP, 2 more will rise up in their place.

The New World Record for Comic Book Downloads

Anyway, in checking out exactly how the various torrent sites were doing in the wake of the DCP furor, I ran across this little statistic on one of the member only torrent sites:

UK Edition: Transformers (UK) [ DL ] 07-10 19:35 2.31 GB 362 74 21 264,170
fyi, the 7-10 is when the torrent was originally posted and the 74/21 numbers are the number of leechers/seeders on the torrent today.

So, over 250,000 people have downloaded that run of digital comics. On an arcane site that requires a password to access. Sort of puts All Star Batman in it's place doesn't it?


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