Digital Comic Resources: Keep to the (Download) Code

Fri, March 30th, 2012 at 10:30am PDT | Updated: March 30th, 2012 at 11:12am

Comic Books
Brigid Alverson, Contributing Writer
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Marvel Comics goes same-day print and digital with (almost) their entire line, and if you lay down $3.99 for a print comic, the publisher'll throw in a download code for the free digital version. Also: Mark Waid and Chip Mosher debate digital comic prices, and if you think your comics are too expensive, blame it on Robert Kirkman. We've got all that and more in this week's edition of Digital Comic Resources.

Digital Comics: Marvel SVP of Sales David Gabriel told CBR that digital and print sales don't seem to have much of an effect on one another: "A spike or decrease in one doesn't affect the other negatively in any way," he said. Marvel is using coupons to encourage readers in one format to experiment with the other, though; they have given away $5 coupons for print comics with the sale of a digital comic, and they recently announced that all their $3.99 print comics would include a download code for a free digital copy. "But the thing you may not have heard amid all the discussion is that Marvel is creating more value with the print product," Gabriel said. "For the reader who buys 'Avengers Vs. X-Men' #1, they get not only the free digital copy on the Marvel Comics app but also 'Avengers Vs X-Men #1 Infinite' for free. They can also use Marvel AR -- which is a free app -- to get even more out of this print comic through our exciting surprises in the issue."

Digital Comics: Late last year, Marvel announced that by the end of March, all its new comics, except for its MAX line and third-party licenses like its Stephen King comics, would be released simultaneously in print and digital formats. Well, it's the end of March, and Newsarama's Albert Ching checked the Diamond shipping list against the Marvel app to see how they were doing. The answer: Pretty good. The all-ages "Spider-Man" #24 is missing from the app, but other than that, all this week's comics are there, and there's even one comic -- "Secret Avengers #24" -- that's on the app but not the Previews list.

Digital Comics: ComiXology CEO David Steinberger wasn't able to be at WonderCon's "ComiXology: Everything Digital" panel, but Mosher got him on the phone to answer questions from the audience. Readers who have the new iPad can upgrade to the HD versions of comics for free, Steinberger said; comiXology will do the upgrade automatically. On the other hand, when asked about motion comics or adding audio to the app, he dismissed the idea, saying, "ComiXology is run by traditionalists." He encouraged the audience to let them know if they want to see specific comics, such as small press or European releases, on the app.

Digital Comics: Should digital comics be priced at 99 cents or $3.99? ComiXology Marketing VP Chip Mosher and creator Mark Waid addressed this issue head-on in their Digital Comics Price Fight panel at WonderCon. Waid advocated a standard price of 99 cents for a digital comic, maintaining that the $2.99 to $3.99 charged by many publishers is too high to bring in new readers. Mosher, on the other hand pointed to a price increase that correlated with an increase in sales: "According to Mosher, Robert Kirkman was responsible for the abandonment of the 99-cent price point.  Kirkman requested that the price on his comics be increased to $1.99 because he a) thought his comics were worth more and b) wanted the ability to do sales at 99 cents, since at 99 cents you could not do a sale, as that is the floor price on iOS in app purchasing. What happened was that sales on Kirkman's comics massively increased once the price was raised.  So Mosher, who was at BOOM! at the time, increased the prices for digital copies of BOOM! titles to $1.99 and he noted a similar increase in sales at the higher price."

While noting that publishers, not comiXology, set the prices, Mosher also pointed out that on Wednesdays, when all those pricy comics are first released, comiXology is often the top-grossing app in the iTunes store which suggests there are a substantial number of readers who are willing to pay the higher price.

Creators: Mark Waid stopped by the CBR booth at WonderCon to talk about his new digital comics initiative and his decision to sell his comic book collection to fund his digital comics work. Waid also threw in a plug for his process blog, MarkWaid.com, which officially launches on April 2. "Locke & Key" writer Joe Hill talked a bit about the hassle factor of digital comics in his CBR TV interview, noting that comics have to be engineered for both print and digital formats.

Commentary: Carla Hoffman rethinks her attitude toward digital comics; as an employee of a comics shop, she looked upon them as the competition, but she came away from WonderCon with a newfound faith that print and digital can work hand in hand.

Review: Andy Ihnako finds reading comics on the new iPad to be a completely different experience than on the earlier versions. "The experience of reading a comic book on either of the first two generations of iPads was, at best, adequate. If your vision is good and you're willing to squint a little, you can possibly read comics in fullpage mode. Halfway through the first issue of a story arc, though, you'll stop being a hero. If you're using an open comic book editor, you'll start zooming and scrolling. If you bought your comics from the Comixology mode, you'll switch to their guided panel view mode. On the new iPad . . . you can stay in fullscreen mode through all 100 issues of '100 Bullets.' The art and the lettering is slightly smaller than a standard printed comic book page, but it's perfectly crisp and readable throughout."

Digital Comics: Here's a new project worthy of note: David Lloyd, the artist for "V for Vendetta," has a new crime-noir comic out, and he's released it as a standalone iPad app. Titled "Kickback," it is, in the author's words, "a slick, stylish, fast-paced thriller that explores themes of corruption, consciousness, society, and self-respect against a big-city film-noir backdrop."

Review: Erica Friedman reviews the JManga digital manga site, looking at their subscription model and usability on both a PC and a tablet; she also reviews a number of the books available on the site.

Upcoming: At SXSW, Calvin Reid caught wind of a new project, a comics journalism magazine that Erin Polgreen will launch for the iPad, funded by a $14,000 grant.

Platforms: Digital Manga announced this week that its "Vampire Hunter D" manga will be available via iVerse's Comics+ app, with each volume priced at $9.99. Digital also has a stand-alone Vampire Hunter D iPad app.

Partnerships: In other Digital Manga news, the company announced this week that it has inked a deal with the Japanese manga rental site Papyless. Papyless already offers over 125,000 manga on its international rental site, but they were all in Japanese. Under the new deal, Digital will translate the books, which will be offered by Papyless, Digital's eManga online manga site, and e-book platforms, such as the Nook, Kindle, and iPad. Digital has had some trouble with the Kindle lately, but after a brief panic, all seems to have returned to normal.

Platforms: Kindle has upgraded its Android app to support comics and graphic novels, as well as illustrated children's books.

People: Peter Levin, the CEO of Nerdist Industries, has joined comiXology's Board of Advisors. "In this new role, Levin will advise comiXology on strategic initiatives and partnerships as well as business and corporate development," the press release says, although comiXology seems to have been doing pretty well on their own.

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TAGS:  digital comic resources, digital comics, mark waid, marvel comics, david lloyd, comixology

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