No Digital Comics For Me

I’m in a thought-sharing mood, so bear with me as I try to talk about something that’s important to me but about which I don’t know enough to provide any sort of actual analysis.

I love comic books (obviously) and I hope I will be ale to keep loving them; however, they are going through a transition at the moment, with the decline of the single issue (which is now hitting the $4 price, something that’s too much for me), the rise of the trade paperback, torrenting of new comics online, and the rise of digital distribution. The future is uncertain, to say the least.

I love comic books, but they are expensive, and I can’t keep buying them. However, I do prefer the hard copy – I may be old-fashioned, but I need the texture of something in my hands, being able to easily control the absorption of the art and story, and the comfort of actually possessing it. I read webcomics but long-form works are not enjoyable on a computer screen – I really like FreakAngels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield, but I don’t enjoy the process of reading in my computer screen.

The supposed saviour of comics is the iPad – being able to buy them online and store them on your device for whenever you want and take your collection around with you. There are other devices, of course: reading comics on your mobile phone or other tablets, but the iPad is heralded as a winner in this arena. However, here’s the problem I have with this solution: it’s bloody expensive.

I can’t afford to buy an iPad; I can’t justify the expense of an iPhone, despite the seeming ubiquity of the smartphone that has changed the face of smartphones. On top of that, you need to have a mobile package where you have to spend another huge amount of money on top of that for unlimited internet downloads. Buying comics for your iPhone may be cheaper and better for trees, but the ability to buy and read your digital comics is very expensive.

I should add that I’m not an Apple hater – I’m just fine with PCs, and I don’t define myself by owning a beautifully designed and easy to use device – and good luck to you if you own an iPhone or iPad, but I haven’t been converted to the Church of Steve Jobs, mostly because I like to eat food and pay the bills and the mortgage, rather than pay for a piece of inessential electronic equipment.

I hope I don’t come across as someone who is complaining because he doesn’t have enough money to pay for his gadgets – I’m just perplexed by the concept that the future of comic books supposedly rests in buying an expense bit of kit at a time of recession when there is poverty and hunger and disease still in the world and the gap between rich and poor gets bigger. Until the time when the publishers decide to give up on printing comics on paper, I’ll be buying my four-colour entertainments in traditional form.

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