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Thursday, April 08, 2010

What's Really Wrong With Mobile Digital Comics

Doctorow can complain about how you can't share your digital comics all he wants, that's not really so much of a problem (in fact, I've bought many, many comics and this point never really occurred to me).

There are, in fact, many benefits to digital comics. They're well priced, easy to download, you can keep an entire library online and download only what you need, and with iPhone readers from iVerse and Comixology - they are very readable in just the palm of your hand.

They're handy, they're not expensive and they're easy to manage. Pretty much the only reason not to read comics on your iPhone is if you don't like comics - right?

Well, kinda.

Here's the deal: I'm tired of reading a title for a while, enjoying it - and then losing it. I'm currently in a twitter off with Comixology on whether the fact that they published Fantastic Four 544 and 545 - only to have 545 to be undownloadable and latter pulled is an actual mistake. Or if the 4-part "Wild Kingdom" plot of X-Men should have a #2, since #1 and #3 are the only ones currently listed.

I could run down a list of examples, but I'm going straight to my biggie. Joss Whedon did a run on X-Men called Astonishing X-Men. It had 24 normal issues and then ended in a 1 giant sized (called, Giant-Size Astonishing X-Men of all things).

And neither iVerse or Comixology currently offer the full run (which ended back in 2008). Comixology offers the 24 issues of the normal run, which basically ends the story on a cliffhanger. And iVerse apparently runs up to issue 16 - which just ends in the middle of a plotline.

I spent a decent amount of money getting all 24 issues of Astonishing - only to have the ending kept away from me. If you bought a $25 book and someone ripped out the last chapter ... you'd be pretty annoyed, right?

The current state of digital comics, at least on the iPhone - is that it is something of a novelty. I used to enjoy them in part because it was a great way to discover new titles, but I'm still waiting to see what happens at the of the end of the truly excellent The Stuff Of Legend. Buying comics is like investing in a storyline - but this distribution is more geared to random selections of random titles. The Marvel line up is particularly bad about this - one week it's all X-Men. Then it might be Avengers. Then it might be Fantastic Four. You just don't know and if you were interested in reading what happened next to last week's selection - well, you're just out of luck.

It's annoying ... and I'm pretty much done with it. Instead of watching releases week to week, I'll check back in from time to time to see what series get completed. Then I'll consider buying them. This is just buying comics for comics' sake though.

I'm clearly talking specifically about the mobile delivery systems - I haven't tried PSN's new service or poked around elsewhere ... but I'll keep my eye out. Update: changed the title to reflect that, as I peruse DC's and Marvel's subscription services. Course, that is cutting out the indies.

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