Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Digital Comics for the iPad: Great Idea, BUT...

So I finally caved and got myself an iPad 2.  It took a month of futile searches at various Best Buy, Target and even the dreaded Wal-Mart hoping to find one and then another three weeks to order one direct from Apple, but eventually I got one and one week in, I'm digging this newest bit of mainstream ubertech.

One of my personal justifications (or is that rationalizations?) for getting the iPad 2 was the desire to get into the digital comics reading format.  With storage space inside my condo rapidly dwindling to nothing, the idea of buying less tangible books has considerably more appeal than it used to have.  And with technology finally getting to the point where a digital comics collection is now more feasible than over, it seemed like a good time to move beyond my geezer collecting ways and start embracing The Future.

After getting the basics of iPad tech down, something made pretty simple thanks to owning an Android phone, I went ahead and downloaded the free store apps for ComiXology, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing and Dark Horse Comics.  The main problem I noticed with these apps is that any comics you download onto your iPad aren't able to be downloaded your regular PC computer as a backup storage device the way music, TV shows and movies purchased through the iTunes store are.  Granted, I've only been at this for just under a week, so there may be a way to do it but it's not obvious and it's certainly not easily done.

And on some of these companies' apps, there's an allotted amount of storage space, which means if you download enough of the comics, eventually you'll have to delete some of the older ones to make room for newer ones.  Not a problem if the comics were free, but with most of these comics at $1.99 (more on that later), you don't want to buy a comic only to end up having to buy it again at some point if you want to reread it or you eventually upgrade to the iPad 3, 4 or 5 down the road.  Now, there may be a record of your purchase on the company's site so you won't have to pay for the comics again, but you have to trust the company to not lose that record instead of simply downloading copies of them into your personal computer.

Then there's the issue of the availablity of certain comics.  Since digital comics is still a market in its infancy, I don't expect everything to be available for purchase right away.  I do, however, expect to see comics published within the past six months, so it's a bit disappointing to find only certain titles available from the major publishers.  And even on the titles you do find, the $1.99 price tends to turn you off when you realize that just for a buck more, you can get the same comic in tangible paper that you actually own.  While I (sadly) understand the price of comics has increased significantly since 1985, there's something a bit wrong for being asked to pay $1.99 for an electronic copy of an issue of Crisis On Infinite Earths originally bought for just three whole quarters back in the day.

It's not all bad, though.  There are some great free comics available that are designed as gateway titles to draw in new comics readers and some may bring back some great memories of reading them the first time.  Oh, and I'm sure there are people out there that don't mind paying $1.99 just to read a particular comic for a short time only to have to delete it later on.  More power to them, because anything that generates comics sales is a good thing as far as I'm concerned.  But if you're a longtime fan hoping to make the jump to digital, keep in mind that the system and marketplace isn't quite where it needs to be yet.  It can be, provided companies stop dipping their toes into the water and fully dive in to The Future, but here's hoping things change for the better during the next year...


  1. You can download & read on your PC's. The Internet has heaps in the .cbr & .cbz format. Download cdisplay Or comical & you're away. I dunno if this capable on the Apple, but you can always convert to PDF i guess if none. If you have no clue what I'm talking about google it. also you can download some comics at http://comixland.blogspot.com/


  2. And cheers to you for the tips, MT!