Monday, July 13, 2009

Second Verse, Same As The First

This is not an entry about sexism, racism, cisgenderism or heterosexism. This is an entry about digital comics. Explicitly, this is Yet Another Digital Comics Post By Willow. YADCPBW - damn, it doesn't make a catchy acronym.

Why another post? Why not.

Mostly though, I'm writing because I'm realizing that just like there are fans who talk about holding a book in their hands, the feel of the paper stock, the good binding, the typeset - for books and I'm sure similar sensations for comics, I want to talk about the sensation of being a digital fan.

Recently I read through the Star Wars: The Old Republic webcomic, available at the massive multiplayer online game site. And it hit me how much I love that moment when you determine if you want to read full screen web-browser, or full screen monitor, or if the art is laid out enough that you can read as is. I love the graphic flip to a second page. I love reading single page style, with two page spreads coming up only if the art cues for it and then bam, wonderful large art, right there. That I can zoom in on to see the fine details done by inker and colourist. I love the preview panels that pop up showing bits of colour and hints of layout. I love knowing ahead of time how many pages a comic is. As much as I'd love to have all these things possible on a portable e-comic reader, I enjoy it as it is on my computer monitor. I enjoy it more than reading prose ebooks.

I've said before that individual comic issues aren't for me. And they aren't. Not the physical individual issues. I have several in my home right now that I rarely go through and read, because they're either old and fragile back issues. Or they're the more modern comics all glossy and ink and if I'm looking at glossy pages I'd prefer a hardcover if I have to have a book at all.

But also, comic art is changing. And while I'm not completely sure I like the change, for example I've not at all enjoyed the way Marvel in particular seems to be swinging to cinematic still shots - a lack of layout and movement I think of as dead art - there are individuals trying to fuse the two. And seeing that lit up on screen feels epic in a way holding something in my hand just wouldn't.

I also don't like how insubstantial floppies feel. Or rather to keep this on positives, I like the way an adobe pdf handles when I'm reading a single issue. I discovered this reading the single issues of The 99. I can get excited about a new installment and not waiting on trades with a PDF. It represents part of a whole, I can eventually burn to disc, write a name on a label (or make a special label for) and have right there for my own enjoyment. Plus it makes the thought of buying the series in trade a choice of a different venue, instead of me feeling like I'm spending money twice, and the second time just for binding it.

Those glossy pages in paper floppy issues make it feel less like waiting for trade and buying is about better paperstock and quality production.

And digital copies to take with me when I leave the house? I loved the chance to share The 99 - Origins with my little brother and father. It's like taking movies with you to share with people, or taking music. Here, join me enjoying this. This is something I might get you for a present / something you should consider buying for yourself. I love the thought of Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman someday being portable. So I could open up a laptop somewhere and go 'Here, this is what I mean'. Or 'I'll bring them for you to read when I come up'.

For the first time I think I buy the concept that there is a Digital Generation. And what's tactile and comforting for said generation will obviously be very different from the generations that came before. But the impulses have the same basis. Digital to me is portable, the way a paperback might be portable for someone else. Yet I thrill to the thought of something the size of a paperback or trade holding 100 of my favourite books - my personal favourite library on hand. I thrill to the thought of having choice when I catch moments to read, to either re-read or read new. I thrill to the thought of never being without a book. I thrill to the thought of one click download of not just ebooks, but comics. All comics. Going to the website of an indie artist, writer and illustrator and boom, I paid my money, I have their work in my hot little hands.

I recently read How Mirka Got Her Sword - it's available in 'dead wood pulp' for $20. I love the style and colours of the story and I realized, something on heavy paper-stock, with that style of print and colour is something I would actually enjoy having and holding in my hands. It says 'book' to me in a very unique way.

Whereas most other comics say digital.

[Comments Allowed]


  1. I like digital comics. I like the fact they are portable, don't take up space and can be read anywhere, anytime. As much as I love actual paper books I am getting won over to the digital side. I found they took a little getting used to, as in what your page layout will be, but after that hurdle I have wholeheartedly embraced them.
    I've been online for about 12 years now and digital format just seems to be the natural progression for me. Why DC aren't on top of this and making a mint out of all the back issue stuff that isn't available in trade is beyond me.
    And thanks for the heads up about The 99 in digital format. I wasn't aware of the digital format until your other post, now that is on my priority buy list.

  2. I have happily spent $30 on The 99 and look forward to spending another $10 to get all caught up.

    I'm kind of sad Devil's Due Publishing hasn't gotten back to me on when Pullbox Online will be stocking 'Barak The Barbarian' because that's money they're not getting.

    Actually, not moving into the digital age is money they -all- aren't getting. I probably would be even more tempted to Batwoman if I could get the issues digitally. Because I know by the time the trade comes out, the mental battle there will be 'But do you really need another book to dust?'