Ironic title is ironic. Long time readers of this blog will be aware of this great irony: that one Clint Wolf, writer of the Zombie Ranch webcomic, actually prefers reading his comics in print — at least where traditional comics are concerned where it’s published in print first and foremost.
I’ve been especially suspicious of newfangled ideas like ComiXology’s Guided View, where comics are broken up panel-by-panel in such a way that the overall layout is lost, and thus, arguably, an essential part of the grammar of comics is lost as well.
“You can turn that off and look at the whole page” I had been told, and while that’s all well and good in theory, the page would become far too small for my aging, squinty eyes to take in properly on a mobile device. Sometimes even on a desktop screen. Nossir, I didn’t like it. Bah, humbug. Etc.
Ahem. Anyhow, Dawn got us a free trial of ComiXology over my apathetic shrugs, and while I was sick in bed last week — bored and unable to sleep — I lowered myself to actually attempting to read a comic digitally.
There was one big difference this time around. We have inherited my late aunt’s iPad, and lo and behold, it turns out the dang thing is the perfect size for me to comfortably hold in bed and “flip through” a comic book with, with each page being big enough to make out details and words without strain or zooming. The interface for reading was also much improved from what I remembered from previous tries. What’s more, at least where more modern comics are concerned the digital version looks quite excellent — probably since it was finished and colored digitally to begin with.
Now mind you the library of titles was limited, and then often just the first trade volume or first issue in a series was readable for free, but it sure was fun to finally get my hands on a few comics I’d been meaning to read for a long time since I don’t get out to the comic store much anymore and more and more at conventions I find myself stuck behind a table or wondering if I really, really have space for 5 more trade paperbacks at home regardless of how much of a discount is being offered.
Perhaps the most insidious thing is how the experience scratched my Marvel Comics itch, but in such a way that it just made the itch worse. Titles like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Astonishing Ant-Man and Loki: Agent of Asgard were very, very fun to check out, but alas I wanted more and getting more seemed to mean micro-transactions even if you paid for a ComiXology Unlimited subscription. Bah. Now, Marvel had its own digital subscription service called Marvel Unlimited, but it was $9.99 a month or $69 if we committed to a year…
Then it hit me. One of our good friends is a professional video game writer, and because of that he gets to write off the video games he buys as tax deductions. Research, don’t you know? Well, hell, we already deduct comic conventions from our taxes, why not a subscription to a comics database? This isn’t me being entirely weaselly either, there are plenty of times Dawn and I haul out print comics in our collection for inspiration and guidance. Imagine the convenience and space-savings of having a database of them at our fingertips? That seems worth a chunk of change.
Plus I get to read the rest of Loki: Agent of Asgard. I think there were something like 18 issues available, which would have been far more than $69 to buy. And then find space for. Spoiler alert: we have no space.
So yeah, I guess I’ve finally gone digital. All it really took in the end was the proper platform.