PSP Digital Comics Reader

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As we’ve discussed on our weekly PoP!-Cast, I’m still a bit skeptical on this whole supposed digital comics revolution thing. I maintain that people will ALWAYS buy comics just like people will ALWAYS buy books. I don’t see traditional book of any variety ever truly disappearing. If people are still buying CD’s in this, the age of iTunes, comics and books are fine. But what about a digital alternative (much like iTunes)? Therein lies the secret, methinks. For communities without a comic book shop, digital distribution could be the key to gaining new readers (who will hopefully transition to traditional comics down the line). What we lack is a solid platform for distribution. Until now, that is.

With the latest Playstation Portable firmware update, PSP owners now have the option to install the new Digital Comics reader for free. While the Playstation Store has yet to officially start selling comics, IDW Publishing has offered up promotional codes redeemable at the store for free digital copies of a few titles so that users can take the program for a test drive. And I have to say it’s pretty great.

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The interface is completely intuitive and allows for mp3 playback while reading. The left and right arrow buttons navigate between panels in a way that works surprisingly well. You’re taken from word balloon to word balloon, but you get the whole panel experience thanks to precisely-timed “camera panning.” The screen will take you through an entire splash page automatically so you can see the whole thing automatically. Of course, you have the power to manually move around the page and zoom in and out at will, but the “Auto Flow” works surprisingly well. It even shakes the panels around a bit when there’s an on-panel explosion.

The downside is that the book I chose to download was a bit big. All Hail Megatron #1 weighs in at a hefty 45MB, meaning it took awhile to download. I assume the other titles would have the same general size. Then again, these could be “prototypes.” At this point, it’s hard to say. Regardless, both Marvel and IDW are on board for this new platform and other publishers will come on sooner rather than later I’m sure.

Will new releases be available for download the same week and their print counterparts? How much will these issues cost? We don’t have the answers to these questions yet, but word is the Playstation store will start selling comics this month, so we should know soon. In the meantime, redeem these promo codes for your free IDW comics and check it out for yourself.

Transformers: All Hail Megatron #1: EC2N-9HBR-HJD6
Star Trek Year Four: The Enterprise Experiment #1: 724K-A4BG-JLD7
Aleister Arcane #1: 63N8-R2BF-9E4D
Astro Boy: Movie Adaptation #1: FF3N-H7B6-M2JF

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My only complaints thus far are files sizes and download times and the unknown price/availability angles. Technically, this thing looks golden. I give it 4 out of 5 potential game changers.

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Filed Under: ReviewsVideo Games

Who ARE these people!?

Lee Rodriguez is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panels On Pages. He is also a freelance graphic and web designer, action figure customizer, swell guy, and an awesome dad.

I'm even on Google+... Kind of.

Comments (17)

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  1. Jason Kerouac says:

    BRING. IT. ON!

  2. Tomer Soiker says:

    On the one side, the digital comics “industry” been around for couple of years now and it always goes through changes and updates. We had Wowio and Marvel’s digital comics format since the late ’90s, and today we have 2000AD’s ClickWheel, DC’s Zuda and Marvel’s DCU (let’s not forget the motion comics that got into high gear in the last year; I have problems with that but let’s leave it for now). Despite all these, there’s still no one-format-for-all and the industry is divided. I’m sure that if the numbers get checked they’re far lower than sales on printed comic books. So I’m skeptical this new thing PSP thing will be the one to finally change the face of the comics world.

    On the other hand, at least the comics industry has been trying to do something with the growing online piracy and new technologies, unlike the music and movie industries that still suffer from covering their eyes and taking off their guards. For years they’ve been trying to fight progress and failed miserably (they still do), while the big comics publishers know what fights to pick (forgot the name of that comics torrent website that eventually shut down earlier this year, long months after DC, Marvel and others sent it a cease and desist letters, forcing its creator to close most of his servers). The industry is way far from winning in the war or taking comics to the next level, but it is moving in the right direction.

  3. Demonweasel says:

    That’s still a pretty small screen though. I don’t think it’s going to really really get real until there’s a reader with at least a manga-sized screen that reads multiple document types (.pdfs, ebook files, image files, etc) that’s not tied to one distributor (like the Kindle & Sony eBook reader are). When that happens…well, it’ll be game on.

    Maybe digital versions of comic issues can be released in an electronic format, with the print side of things focusing on GNs. That seems to be working thus far for Zuda & Warren Ellis’ Freakangels.

  4. Tomer Soiker says:

    The first paragraph of what Demonweasel said.

    • I’ve seen it firsthand, and the screen isn’t too small at all. They’ve really managed to make this work so far. While digital comics have indeed been around for awhile, this is easily the best portable distribution tool I’ve ever seen. until the industry can come to some sort of concensus on what will be the norm, it won’t ever really go to that next level, but thing like this and the hush-hush Apple tablet are defintiely going to get them there. The bottom line is that there are no more excuses. The technology exists and it’s good. What are they going to do with it? That’s the real question.

  5. Tomer Soiker says:

    As a replacement of the old printed format or in addition to it? I don’t support the former and I hope it never happens. As another means of reading comic books, sure thing. The video didn’t kill the radio and the Internet didn’t bring the demise of the TV, so no need for digital comics to bring to the end of printed comics. Printed comics still sell well and are the favored format by a big majority, so the chances of this happening are low.

    • Jason Kerouac says:

      In addition to, of course. It’s like everything else. The hard copies will always exist, but digital is the way of the future.

  6. Tito Cruz says:

    For some time I hated the idea of digital comics. The idea of someday not having the pages in hand made me shutter. I now don’t see that happening. Tomer said it well when he mentions the video/radio and internet/television comparisons. There will always be a market for comic books in the current form.

    The main benefit of digital comics is that is makes comics more accessible. Those who don’t have a comic book shop to go to can download them and read them. I am all for anything that will increase the readership of comics. I think the industry is well served in embracing the new technology instead of fighting it. This would really take off if the much rumored itablet ever gets to see the light of day.

    Good work Lee!

  7. Joshua says:

    I’ll never be able to wrap my head around paying money for something that isn’t tangible. It’s one thing if they package in a digital copy with a hard copy, but I don’t see myself ever dropping cash for digital comics. Though as the booming MP3 business shows, I’m in the minority on that.

  8. Demonweasel says:

    If digital comics are a way for people to casually read comics at a low price point, I definitely support the whole. Yeah, I’m bummed out about losing sales at the shop, but I’m pro pretty much anything that gets comics into the hands of a wider audience. As an aspiring creator, I really like the idea of having a fast, cheap means of distribution at my fingertips. Hell, I’ll send the first issue of my comic out to free as a .pdf to anyone who wants it. I know the non-proprietary format makes people worry about piracy, but I’m pretty much pro anyone getting to see my work. If they like it, great. If not, I like hearing constructive criticism. An open marketplace where creators can set their own prices (kind of what Amazon has going on for Kindle) would also go a long way to making digital comics a real force in the marketplace.

    • Jason Kerouac says:

      @ Josh – I don’t understand digital copies being packed with hard copies. Personally, I imagine most people either want one or the other, not both.

      @ Thach – Agreed.

  9. Joshua says:

    @K-Whack
    For the same reason people want digital copies of music and movies: portability. I’m sure I’m not the only person that reads good stories multiple times and it would be great to have a portable version. However, just like music and movies I would never want the portable version in lieu of the hard copy, but only in addition to.

  10. kyle kennedy says:

    these is a really fun and excitiable comics u can just sit back in read

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