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Friday, June 3, 2011

The Future of Comics is Futury Futuristic


It's been a pretty eventful week for comics, with publisher DC Comics announcing their reboot/relaunch/reset/rewind/restart/reload of the DC Universe and making these titles available digitally the same day they arrive in comic shops.  This, of course, has sent readers and retailers into an understandable tizzy, as everyone struggles to figure out what's changed and whether they can live with it or not.

So being the dutiful Doctor Who obsessed fan that I am, I left a timey-wimey note for my future self to let me know how things are going to turn out and if the future of my beloved hobby is indeed assured.  Thanks to a handy-dandy crack in the fabric of time and space, I just received a response from my 2021 self and here's what he (or is that I?) had to say...

Hello, Charles!  Greetings and salutations from Future Me in the year 2021!

Having remembered you sending me your note, I was more than glad to know that you hadn't somehow forgotten to write it and somehow affected the course of my history/your future/whatever.  So I take it that you're quite concerned about the future of comics.  Perfectly understandable, considering everything that happens in 2011, but I'll try to give you some idea of what you have to look forward to in the years ahead...

First of all, DC and Marvel still print some comics on paper, if you can believe it.  Oh, it's nothing like it was in your day, but they're still around here and there.  They've become something of a niche market for certain collectors, kind of like those people who preferred vinyl records over CDs in your time.  They like to think they're offbeat and hip, while most of us realize they just want to be different for the sake of being different.

Of course, this means that some comic shops are still around as well.  In an economic form of natural selection, the really good ones survive to become quaint shops for those "too cool for the room" paper comics collectors.  The rest, especially those dingy hole-in-the-wall stores staffed by fat thirty-year-olds with no grasp of underarm deodorant technology, gradually blink out of existence.  Losing them was a bit sad, in a way, almost like seeing old drive-in movie theaters slowly fade into history.

Comic book conventions also take a considerable hit.  With digital comics becoming the norm, there's little need to go to convention centers or hotel ballrooms to buy something you can just download.  As a result, conventions have shifted their focus to creator appearances and Cosplay, along with DC and Marvel giving presentations about upcoming movie and TV projects.  You sometimes find the occasional dealer that actually sells paper comics, though, and yes, Adam West, Burt Ward and Lou Ferrigno are still signing autographs.  Seriously.

Oh, and watch out for ComiXology.  As demand for digital comics increases, their servers have a hard time keeping up and...well...what ultimately happens isn't pretty.  This triggers a huge debate about digital comics storage, but the good news is that it eventually results in comics you can store in your own collection instead of accessing them from a company's website.  Some prefer cloud storage, some prefer portable storage devices, but at least there's a sense of collecting comics once again and that's definitely a good thing.

See?  Not the end of the world, after all.  This whole digital comics thing is still pretty new to you, so there'll be some bumps along the way as adjustments are made and technology advances.  You're going to love your iPad 4 and especially the--Ah, but that would be telling.  Just enjoy the ride, okay?

Oh, and because I know you're already wondering about this, yes, Doctor Who is still on and still the greatest show in the galaxy.  The Fourteenth Doctor is brilliant!

Be seeing you...eventually,

Charles

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