Digital Comics Are a Neat Upgrade, Not a Replacement

12/28/2011 05:22 pm ET | Updated Feb 27, 2012

Don't get me wrong. I think digital comics are a cool medium. They offer a great distribution option since anyone with the Internet, iPhone, iPad, Android can download a full comic in seconds and read it right away on their respected device. Instead of comics being this niche market of shops and conventions, suddenly everyone with a smartphone or computer has access to thousands of comics.

It's convenient for those who are on the go, far away from a comic shop or who are curious to check out what these "comic books" are all about. I've known many people who got into comics through digital comics and after all, the comic book industry needs more readers more than anything right now. If it's something that can get more people reading and enjoying the medium, then more power to it.

Another factor that digital comics can do well (but don't most times) is pricing. I'm too young to remember a time where comics cost a dollar or even cheaper. Nowadays, most comic books in print cost $2.99 or as much as $3.99 for the more popular books. When you read alot of monthly titles, that can add up to quite a bit.

Since printing costs and shipping and mailing and all these things don't apply to digital comics, they are able to offer books as cheap as $0.99 but the majority of companies still offer their digital comics at $2.99 and $3.99, the same price as the physical versions. Why is that?

Another concern with digital comics are when new ones are released. Recently DC and Marvel have been doing same-day release, meaning they are available digitally the same day they are released in comic book stores. This has raised quite a bit of concern and critique since companies that are doing that, are basically screwing over small comic shops, the very stores that kept these companies in business for the longest time.

For true comic fans, digital comics aren't going to replace printed traditional ones anytime soon. Digital comics are getting bigger and bigger, but these people have been supporting local comic shops forever. We like to support our local comic stores. We like the weight and the feeling of turning pages. The same could be said about book readers vs Kindle readers. There's an elegance to holding a book in your hands; holding a kindle or an iPad, it's not the same feeling. Never will be.

Reading something on a screen is nice and convenient, but a bit soulless. I like holding a comic in my hands, I like the smell. I like having a huge box of them to browse through. I like having a huge bookshelf of comics that people can browse and open and inspect. I like to lend people books.

Thankfully companies like Graphicly and Chicago's own Four Star Studios have been doing neat things to separate digital and traditional comics and make them their own unique experience without trying to replace what we all love. Cool things like including rough pencils to a story available at the click of a button, or being able to read the script of the book you are reading. This is something other comic companies should take note of, innovate! Don't try to assimilate.