Category Archives: digital comics
All it took for me was one drawing by Chris Samnee.
Not too long ago, Chris Arrant at Robot 6 wrote a piece entitled “DC Digital: Best Kept Secret or Worst Covered Gem?” While all the press has been on the New 52′s same-day-digital initiative, the DC Digital brand has silently be cultivating some interesting titles. It started when they launched Smallville Season 11, the follow up to the popular TV show. (Some fans attest it’s better than the mainline Superman titles. I’ve only read one Smallville issue, but from what I’ve seen of the New 52 Superman, I don’t find it hard to believe.) While New 52 remain controversial, dropping and adding titles on a regular basis, the DC Digital titles have been steadily building up. Batman Beyond Unlimited. Legends of the Dark Knight. Arrow. And, um … Ame-Comi Girls. (Which is… written by Jonah Hex‘s Jimmy Palmiotti. Oh, Jimmy.)
But let’s get back to that Chris Samnee image! That’s all I needed to download the first three issues of Adventures of Superman. Look at that glorious thing. Is there any current artist out there who’s perfect for illustrating Superman than Chris Samnee? Before the New 52, I mean? I mean, he can just draw him and I’m all, “Yes. YES. That is Superman… not some impostor running around wearing red and blue tights.” Here is a man that makes you want to go “Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!” every time you lay your eyes on him.
Well, it turns out only the first issue is illustrated by Mr. Samnee. (And it’s written by Jeff Parker.) Adventures of Superman is an anthology series… a bunch of short, low impact stories. Superman tries to talk a guy down from causing mayhem, two kids play around in the yard, and Superman deals with Bizarro.
Very few punches are thrown.
If you want to read about Darkseid’s ongoing plan to rule the world, this is probably not the comic for you. But you see… I love those stories. One of the best things about Superman from the Silver Age was how it was more focused on character relationships and wonder at the world than, say, Superman punching out the latest supervillain. It’s something that the previous incarnation of Superman really got wrong. Throughout the 80′s and the 90′s, it was about Superman beating up on villain after another. (Culminating in the best selling issue where he dies after being punched to death by Doomsday.)
“But wait, El Santo,” you say. “Aren’t you taking a break?”
I know. I’ve got to admit something to you: I’m terrible at this whole taking a break thing. And the worst part of it is… I’m breaking hiatus for something that is not, technically, a webcomic.
Twins Peter and Bobby Timony’s The Night Owls is, in fact, closer to being on the digital comic side of the scale than on the webcomic side. It could have been considered a webcomic when Zuda was around. But then Zuda died, a good number of my Zuda-only webcomic blogger compatriots disappeared, and the remaining Zuda issues have been banished to the nether realms of Comixology.
If you want to read The Night Owls anymore, you must download it for $0.99 an issue … though the first issue is free. The Night Owls has since ended, capping off at 9 issues, so a full run of The Night Owls is going to cost you $8 (and a bit more more if you’re going to spring for the print version on Amazon).
I suppose a site called “The Webcomic Overlook” should probably let this one go… but then who would review it? From my experience, most sites reviewing digital comics are focusing on much the same things as their print comic sites … namely DC’s New 52 initiative.
Imaginary Range isn’t really a webcomic. It’s not really a comic, either. I mean, it’s available for download online and it is sequential art. So I guess you could argue that it’s a webcomic. However, there’s a game in it, too.
Only… Imaginary Range is not really a game, either.
It turns out that Imaginary Range is really hard to define. What most people can agree on, though, is that its an iPhone/iPod app. A free one at that. And with some sort of demonic Moogle as an icon. The iTunes store describes Imaginary Range as “a new genre of entertainment: a hybrid comic and game experience,” which makes it sound like it could either be something new and revelatory or something really disappointing coddled in lame marketing speak.
The project comes to us from the legendary game company Square Enix (and developer H.A.N.D., makers of Final Fantasy: Chocobo Tales for the Nintendo DS). While most of you know that the video game distributor is home to Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises, it turns out that, thanks to several mergers and acquisitions, the company’s library of games is enormous. Square Enix is the also the home to Arkanoid, Tomb Raider, Legacy of Kain, Monster Rancher, and Tecmo Bowl, thanks to acquisitions of Taito, Eidos, and Tecmo Koei. It’s kinda like how Captain Marvel, Batman, Neil Gaiman’s Death, and Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S. all ended up under the same umbrella at DC to create a rich and often confusing library of titles.
So which Square Enix will show up in Imaginary Range? The one that made Sepiroth the patron saint to emo kids everywhere? The one that beat Pokemon to the punch in the field of raising some fighting monsters? Or the one that populated arcades in the 1980′s?
The answer may surprise you.
Meanwhile, over at Comics Beat, Torsten Adair writes a piece on how “Digital Is the New Direct Market.”
Yeah, yeah, I know a piece like this gets written ever four months. The difference now is we sorta know the strategies that the big comic publishers are now implementing to get a foothold in the digital comic industry. Mr. Adair sees a paradigm shift and ties it to trends from years past:
With the widespread influence of the Internet, publishers and retailers salivate at the opportunity to sell to the general public which is unaware of comics shops. Many in the comics industry consider the Internet to be the “new newsstand”, a marketplace which replicates the ubiquity of news agents in postwar America.
Unfortunately, I see a different possibility:
Digital comics are the new Direct Market.
1981 was when the Direct Market matured. That year, Marvel Comics released Dazzler #1 only to comics shops, selling an estimated 400,000 copies. Looking at circulation figures, Marvel realized that Ka-Zar, Moon Knight, and Micronauts were not selling well via newsstands, but could be viable if sold exclusively via subscriptions and the Direct Market of comics shops. By the end of the decade, Marvel, DC, and most publishers distributed more titles via the more lucrative Direct Market than to newsstands.
Here’s where the Direct Market becomes the Newsstand: digital files can just as easily be sold online by comics shops. Just as a comics fan can order comics from Direct Market mail order comics shops, so too can they order them online. Some comics shops have robust e-commerce sites, offering a warehouse of merchandise, usually at discounted prices.
In the past, fans had to journey miles from newsstand to newsstand to find all of the comics they enjoyed. Later, they could find everything under one roof at a comics shop. Now, instead of driving miles (and sometimes hours) to a comics shop, a fan can sit in front of a computer and purchase a Diamond Digital comic online. They do not have to set foot in a comics shop.
Don’t think that’s likely? Look at the e-book market. Amazon reports that e-books outsell hardcover and trade paperbacks. Amazon is an online retailer. It has no physical storefronts. And yet, of everything their bookstore offers, e-books outsell regular books.
Think a store can still be successful if a customer visits? Consider this scenario, one which happened daily when I worked at the Barnes & Noble near Lincoln Center. (This store had five storeys; expert staff selling books, DVDs, and CDs; a packed cafe; and author events which attracted national press.) A customer comes in with a vague request. (“I saw it on a table a few weeks ago… It had a blue cover, and was about vampires.”) An employee accesses databases and product knowledge, and after five minutes of exhaustive searching, successfully finds the book for the customer! The customer is happy, but finds the book too expensive. “Thanks. I’ll get it online.” The bookseller offers to order the book from the company’s website, charging the online price, even waving the shipping. It just takes a few minutes at a nearby computer. Again, the customer declines, leaving the store without purchasing anything….
So print comics seemed doomed, marginalized like vinyl LPs.