This was an unusually fertile week for digital comics, with the launch of Marvel's first Infinite Comic, "Avengers vs. X-Men #1 Infinite," and Mark Waid's digital comics blog, which has already stirred up some fruitful discussions. Even the demise of Graphicly as a digital comics storefront wasn't really an ending, as they reposition themselves as a platform for publishing comics digitally via other channels.
Digital Comics: This week saw the launch of Marvel's Infinite Comics with the release of "Avengers vs. X-Men #1 Infinite," a comic designed from the ground up to be read digitally. Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, Senior Editor Nick Lowe and writer Mark Waid talked to CBR about the creation of the comic. Waid's take was that the process is very different from traditional comics and relies heavily on the artist: "[W]ith the Nova story, I talked it out extensively with Stuart [Immonen, the artist on the project] before writing anything, then -- instead of a full script with a panel-by-panel breakdown -- I gave him a detailed scene-by-scene breakdown of the events -- that's all, no page-by-page outline -- and encouraged him to pace them as he saw fit, making each scene as short or as long as he felt it needed to be, after which I went back and added dialogue. I'm not used to working that way -- most writers aren't -- but I'm finding it's the best way." For those who are curious about what the Infinite comics are doing differently, Kevin Butler has an explanation and some nice examples at Laptop Magazine.
Digital Comics: Paul Kaminski, Executive Director of Editorial for Archie Comics, discussed the launch of the publisher's "New Crusaders" comics with CBR, digital comics that will feature their legacy Red Circle superheroes as well as some new characters. The comics will be available via an iVerse-powered app and a website, RedCircleComics.com the app allowing readers to access both the new comics and the original line.
Publishing: Mark Waid kicked off his new digital comics blog this week, and it has already become the virtual water cooler for creators and readers alike. His first post set out some rather grim numbers about print comics, noting that for small print runs, the cost of printing alone can run over $1 per comic. He also discussed the problems with print comics distribution, i.e., the Diamond monopoly and the scarcity of comics stores--and the even greater scarcity of comics stores that will take a chance on something new. He also posted audio of the WonderCon panel on digital comics pricing, in which he and Chip Mosher, comiXology's vice president of marketing, took opposite sides, with Waid advocating a 99-cent price point for most comics and Mosher favoring a more nuanced model, with publishers leading the way.
Platforms: There was a big change in the digital comics market this week as Graphicly, one of the top three, announced that it is changing its business model and will no longer sell comics via its app and website. Instead, it will position itself as a digital distributor to other platforms such as Kindle, iBooks, and Nook, via its Digital Distribution Platform. In other words, Graphicly is going from retail to wholesale.
For comics readers, the first question that springs to mind is "What happens to my digital comics when the app goes away?" " Those comics will always be available through Graphicly.com and Facebook," Graphicly CEO Micah Baldwin told David Brothers of Comics Alliance, and the company is working on an HTML5 version of the website that will be compatible with tablets and other mobile devices. Graphicly will remove its app from the iTunes and Android stores, but as long as you don't remove it from your device, you can still download the comics you have already purchased. The app will no longer be available for download, and the store will not allow new purchases. The Double Feature digital comics app will continue to be available as a separate app.
Apps: ComiXology made its latest upgrade, comiXology 3.0, available for Android devices this week, bringing that platform in line with its iOS apps. There's an interesting statistic buried in the press release, too: Remember how it was big news a month ago when comiXology passed the 50 million download mark? Well, the press release it sent out this week states that it has served over 60 million comic and graphic novel downloads, which means that March must have been a very good month.
Apps: Drew McCabe reviews the Mad Magazine app, and, he says, this is how it should be done. The app features the Mad blog and two different versions of the magazine, a same-as-print version for $1.99 and an "interactive" version for $4.99. And McCabe says the interactive version is not cheesy: "The cover and a few pages are slightly animated, for starters. The images all drop in, and there are a ton of amusing sound effects. Yes, it’s really a simple flash-animation trick, but it looks polished on the pad, and for it to be the first thing to hit you, it just makes you crack and smile and brings you into the world fun." Plus you can magnify all those tiny, detailed Sergio Aragones drawings to appreciate their full richness. The app also offers an annual subscription (six issues) for $9.99, which seems more than reasonable.
Digital Comics: Digital editions of the British comic 2000AD and sister publication Judge Dredd Magazine will now be available on Fridays, two days after the print edition. "This is a substantial shift from the current format, which only sees them go online once they are superseded on the newsstands," the press release notes. Welcome to 2012AD! Rebellion, the computer game company that publishes 2000AD, also revealed that it is working on its own digital comics platform.
Digital Comics: Dark Horse brought the darkness to its digital comics service with the announcement that the relaunched "Creepy" is now available on Dark Horse Digital. "Creepy Archives" and "Eerie Archives" will follow in May.
Publishing: The Indian website DNA has an overview of digital publishing in India that includes short interviews with two digital comics publishers. The argument for digital publishing seems to be the same there as here: “Whereas it’s important to not lose the print counterpart, it is increasingly clear that the next spurt of growth will be led by the digital medium," says Shreyas Srinivas, CEO of Level 10 Comics. "The reasons are simple -- better and immediate reach. For new-age publishers, the digital platform provides a cost effective way of reaching out to the audience."