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.
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
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.