Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Digital Age Has Arrived?

Well yeah sure, it's the digital age but comic books have largely resisted making that transition as of yet. There's been a lot more interest in the last few years albeit in slow and hesitant steps, but I believe we could see that change very quickly over the next few years. The digital market for comics is still forming, but the recent economic downturn, and upturn in printing and shipping costs will almost certainly mean a huge change to the current comic market and the way we get our comics. Heidi MacDonald makes a comprehensive case for the current environment in the industry over at The Beat...

Graphic novels that offer satisfying, memorable stories, webcomics that make you chuckle, and periodicals that can hold monthly attention will always tough it out. Sincere publishers who want to put out the best books that they can will keep going.

In a world where people can only afford necessities, you must make comics that your audience NEEDS.

Doesn't sound good. But comics seem to be at their best when they are cheap and easily available to people wanting cheap and easily available entertainment. In the wake of the Internet the newsstands and print powerhouses aren't nearly what they once were and there's really no way back for single issue comics. The paper upgrades and jump to the direct distribution market over the last few decades were one way streets with no easy way back, so where do they go from here? Digital downloads seem to be the only real answer to pulling comics back out of the quiet, dusty shelves of specialty comic shops, but again the comic companies have more than slow in reacting. They know that once this step is taken the direct market will implode once more, maybe forever, and the only shops surviving will be the ones able to remake themselves to cater to a variety of fandoms or niche markets. It's not a step actually it's a huge leap. And sometimes you have to be pushed.

It came up in conversation recently that where the financial Depression of the 1930s ushered in the print-driven, newsstand age of comics, so might this current relatable recession be the final straw that will push comics into the digital market for good. My best tip of the last few years has been if anyone figures out how to make a site for selling comic downloads that is comparable to iTunes they will be very successful indeed. From the rolled up copy in your back pocket to the file on your portable device, we may well see this new age of comics happen very soon.

1 comment:

Chris Paugh said...

Good stuff B. Comics as well as anything else people buy will really have to step it up in the quality department to survive over the next few years. Maybe depressions aren't such a bad thing.