Are Digital Comics [Mobile Comics] Right for You?

The debate over paper and digital comics has mostly died down over time. People either do or don’t but they don’t really talk about it.

Digital vs. Paper is still a touchy subject for some. Hell it’s still a matter of versus rather than options. Dark Horse and Dark Horse Digital are still selling and producing and profiting from the same Baltimore or Conan comics regardless of how you buy them.

I don’t know about you but it’s not super easy for me to get to a comic shop when I want to. And, often, when I do get to my local shop, they don’t always have what I want.

Yes, I could subscribe but I’m not willing to make a financial commitment to multiple comics (most shops require you subscribe to three or more comics to hold a queue at the shop) until I can make a commitment to actually getting the comics.

There are a number of considerations and arguments that I weighed when deciding whether or not to join the Digital Comics/Mobile Comics Movement or hold strong with paper comics.




Easily start from the beginning :( :) Issue #1 of a series you just heard about isn’t likely to still be shelved at your local shop. Digital issues are always in stock.
Collection Appreciates over time :) :( If stored properly!
Price :( :) Walking Dead #1 Print ($0.24 – $750) vs. Digital (Free)
Storage :( :) You need to invest in good comics storage of you plan to invest in a large collection.
Clear ownership of product :) :( Your paper comics are yours. Your digital comics are more like leased comics. You usually can’t even download a copy to be read without the retailer’s reader.
Easily discover new titles :) / :( :) Searching by interest and similar content is easy with digital mediums. But I also go to shops and follow blogs with great suggestions regardless of how I choose to find them.
Ease of acquisition :( :) In New England there are about 6 months in the year where getting up and going to the store is just a dumb thing to do so we like to have our products brought directly to us. Shipping on individual issues is usually ridiculous so in the winter, it’s either trades from Amazon or digital comics.

Are digital comics trying to kill paper comics and the shops that sell them?

I don’t want to be party to an oligarchy in the making or instrumental in keeping America in a recession!

Turns out very few publishers publish digital-exclusive titles. Even Moon Girl, which is now published by the leader in digital comic distribution, comiXology, gets printed.

comiXology also only provides digital stores with retailers who can prove that they have a physical store that sells paper comics.

Who wants digital comics anyway?

I got in the comic game late and was surprised to find there’s slim pickings when you’re late to comics. You can either pay out the nose for early issues or buy the first eight(ish) issues in a trade for somewhere between $12 and $20.

Not only are digital comics easily searchable by writers, publishers, and titles but they also tend to provide free early issues. Either #0, #1, or an intentional preview issue.

Does your local shop have a Free section? No? Every digital distributor I’ve encountered has a Free section.

There have been a number of comics I’ve thought looked like they were something I wanted but then realized they weren’t. Money saved. There have also been comics that I realized I wanted [Artifacts] after reading free previews.

Doesn’t it end up being the same price/more expensive except without the value of prints?

I have a Kindle Fire which I use for both comics and books. I also use it for Netflix streaming and various other tasks involving the internet and downloadable files.

Sales are unusual with paper comics but happen at least once a week with digital comic platforms. Often all issues of a specific title for 99¢. comiXology has a sale page highlighting what’s currently on sale because there’s always something.

I rarely buy digital comics at retail price and since I’m not investing in storage boxes, bags, and boards, I save that money.

Also, because I use the Kindle Fire comiXology app I can use gift cards towards in-app purchases. I can set aside a specific amount of money for digital comics purchases and hold myself to it. Sometimes I can use the Amazon money I earn from using Bing Rewards, thus getting comics for free!

How do you collect digital comics? You don’t own your comics and your files live in “The Cloud.”

This is just a personal preference based on needs and desires. I don’t plan to collect or keep volumes of comics for sentimental, monetary, or heirloom purposes. There are a few #1s (Some of the New 52s), specific arcs, and certain issues that I want to keep—and The Walking Dead #100—just because I love them as stand out things I want to hold on to no matter what.

Aside from those few books, I like that my digital comics are in “the cloud.”

I don’t like that if, God forbid, comiXology goes out of business I just can’t have them anymore. That’s a bit lame. Luckily they seem to be thriving. But, like books on my kindle, I usually pay a bit less than I would for a physical copy and read it ASAP. After that, I’m done with it.

You can’t share or collect digital comics but it just depends if you value consuming the content over owning the product and trust the providers to stay in business or not lose your data…

So, are digital comics right for you?

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