Who’d win in a fight between Superman and Spawn? How the f*ck old is Cable? And what in the holy hell is a Megatron? When the tough questions arise, Panels on Pages will gather the facts, but it’s up to the PoP!ulation to draw its own conclusions. So come on… Riddle Me This.
The past couple of years have brought about the biggest change in how comics are read and purchased in the history of the medium. Faced with the threat of online piracy, many of the bigger companies have made most, if not all, of their current issues available for download on the Internet, and the advent of sites like ComiXology have made it easy to download issues of your favorite book. Most comics nowadays are available for download the same day they are available in stores, which has drawn the ire of many comic specialty shops. Even reputable creators like Mark Waid have faced harsh criticism for defending this new delivery system. Despite the ongoing controversy, it appears that online comics will stick around for years to come and just might become the dominant mode of comic buying and reading in the future.
For decades, I have stuck to the old method of buying physical copies of comics at local comic shops every week, but nowadays it’s become harder to find the time and money to keep coming back to a shop to pick up my haul of comics and keep up with my favorite storylines. Last year, I made the decision to switch almost exclusively to trade collections that I would pick up at comic shops or order online. This meant that I would have to wait longer to read them, but I find them to be a much more rewarding reading experience and much easier to obtain than monthly issues. There are times, however, when I am tempted to try out a new series that I have heard good things about, and I have found downloading digital comics to be a convenient alternative to driving to a comic shop, which may not be readily available in all areas. The availability of comics for download also eliminates the possibility of a desired issue being sold out at a local shop and enables me to try a comic out without having to invest in a trade. While I haven’t made a hobby of downloading full runs of titles, I have used the vast and ever-growing library available on ComiXology to try out new books like Saga and The Red Wing, both of which I plan on buying the trades of to continue the stories that began in those first issues.
To me, the idea that digital comics will kill the Direct Market and lead to the elimination of brick-and-mortar comic shops is absurd. Frankly, I don’t see anyone using ComiXology to download a month’s worth of comics that they would normally buy at an LCS, mostly because that would take more memory than most people with Macs or personal computers would likely be willing to devote solely to comic storage and would destroy the idea of comics as collectibles, which is the lifeblood of the Direct Market and the convention industry. Digital comics more than likely will help lead new readers to the medium and help new readers try out new books or catch up on issues they may have missed, but I doubt anyone will completely stop buying physical copies of their favorite books every Wednesday just because they could potentially get the same issues online. For those who don’t have an LCS nearby, however, ComiXology is a wonderful alternative venue for getting their comics fix.
Now the question is posed to you, dear readers. Has the increased availability and convenience of digital comics changed your buying and reading habits? Do you go to your comic shop less now that nearly every monthly comic is now available for download the same day they come out in stores, and if not, do you buy less physical copies? If they ever decide to drop the price of digital to less than cover price, would that lead you to drop your comic shop entirely and go all-digital? Voice your opinions in the comment chain below, and let’s get a conversation going.