The comic book digital revolution is coming. Sure, it's starting slow, but don't they all? (Note: please don't check our historical accuracy on this). Over the last few weeks, a wave of announcements from major publishers and creators has shown that the comic industry's biggest names are ready to embrace the digital format like never before. What's the news, and what does it mean for regular old paper comic readers?
Last Monday, Marvel dropped a digital bombshell. Not only did they launch their Marvel Digital Comics Shop (which offers readers a convenient place to fulfill all their capes-and-tights desires online), they also released the news that come June, every paper Marvel superhero comic priced at $3.99 (which is most of them) will come with a free download code that gives readers a complimentary digital copy as well! One of the major objections to digital comics has been that long-time comic readers typically buy their books in print, so why spend additional money on a new format? Now that Marvel's handing out digital comics for free to paying print customers, their digital readership is sure to grow. There are certainly those among us who'd even fork over an extra buck on Marvel's $2.99 titles just to have a copy that's always with us on our phones or tablets (Daredevil, anyone?).
While Marvel's giving away digital content to their loyal print readers, DC's taking a different approach: developing content just for their digital consumers. They've already got digital-only series based on the TV show Smallville and the Arkham Asylum video game available on their Web store, but perhaps the biggest series is yet to come. Starting in June, DC will publish digital-only out-of-continuity Batman comics from all-star creators that you might never see work on a regular printed Bat-book. These comics are designed to be accessible to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the Dark Knight, and the writers and artists lined up here are pretty unbelievable: Ben Templesmith, Steve Niles, even one issue from Lost creator Damon Lindelof and Sweet Tooth writer/artist Jeff Lemire! Interestingly, DC intends to release new digital content every day of the week—no longer does Wednesday hold a monopoly on new comic goodness.
Mark Waid's Thrillbent.com:
Legendary comic writer/editor Mark Waid (currently working on Marvel's Daredevil) caused a little controversy when he announced that he'd be selling his entire print comic collection to fund a new digital endeavor. That project: Thrillbent.com, a website that will offer… wait for it… FREE digital comic content, much like a web comic might, but from a mainstream creator. Up first: a series called "Insufferable," which stars a superhero's young sidekick who's actually a pretty big jerk. Thrillbent.com launches today, May 1, and will offer new content every week. Guys, this is definitely something to watch.
So DC's giving you digital exclusives, Marvel's giving you free copies and Mark Waid's giving you the best of both.
Will this convince you to check out digital comics?