If you’re at all interested in comics, webcomics, and digital comics, or just publishing in general, go check out artist and writer Dani Jones’ recent blog, “Digital Comics: A Call to Comic Creators.”
For those of you making comics, like me, your ears certainly perked up at her title, right? Basically, as a new owner of a shiny iPad, Dani’s looking for some digital comics to download onto her new comics reader. And she’s coming up a bit short.
She also has some great ideas about how to make your webcomic a digital comic. Which is exactly what we did with IN MAPS & LEGENDS. Here’s a link to our site, for more info: http://inmapsandlegendscomic.com
But first, a quick definition list here:
- Webcomic: A comic that you read on your computer, using a web browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox. You can also read them on an iPad or iPhone, but a webcomic is set up for reading on a computer screen. You usually need to be online to read a webcomic.
- Digital comic: A comic that you usually download, either in PDF or CBZ format, or a format specific to the online comics distributor where you purchased the comic. Usually includes an entire issue of a comic. Once you have a digital comic downloaded, you can read it whenever and wherever you like.
- Online comics distributor: A storefront, like Comixology or Graphic.ly, that you access as an application on your iPhone or Droid phone, or on the web. From the storefront, you can preview, purchase, and download a digital comic to your device or computer.
I wanted to share a couple bits from my response to Dani’s blog post, with some added thoughts about the two types of comics:
I kind of feel like there’s a shift away from Web to digital — by which I mean people aren’t reading online, on their computer so much as on some sort of reader, smartphone, or other device.
I have a weird feeling about the future of webcomics. I love coming across a new comic on the web, even if it’s almost always in the middle of chapter 2 or 5 or 8, and I have to play catchup. Latest find? Jackie Rose.
The cool thing is that the archives for the entire run of the webcomic are almost always available online, usually marked by a link that says “First.” So you can read all the previous installments and get up to speed.
But then, when you’re up to speed, the slow crawl of pages begins. I had a big problem with this when I was reading all the Zuda comics online, and then when our comic started publishing there — you online got one page a week! Hard to get a real sense of urgency and continuity when your story is unfolding that slowly. Some webcomics update 3 times a week, like the lovely Sailor Twain (M, W, F), but even that pace can feel glacial.
Of course, what it really makes me want is a trade paperback, where I can read the whole thing all over again, in one sitting. With digital comics, you usually get a whole issue — 20-32 pages, in most cases — so you don’t have that long wait. Much closer to the experience of reading individual paper comics from the comic shop. Another plus for digital, I guess.
There’s also the issue of price — most webcomics are free. That is awesome.
Digital comics usually come with a fee (though many distributors like Comixology let you read the first issue of a series for free, for the most part, which is a great tactic).
As I said on Dani’s blog:
This is a great time to be a comics creator. People are willing to pay for your stuff. Just not TOO much. I think 99 cents is the perfect price for a 20-26 page comic. I start to pause before hitting BUY if a comic is $1.99. I’d definitely pay the same amount for a single issue of a comic as I’d pay for a song on iTunes.
I just wonder, with webcomics, will people pay for something they can read online for free? That’s where digital comics and webcomics are going to collide, I think, and not in a good way.
I have this sense that webcomics may not survive the wave of digital comics that’s coming. So in a way, I’m really glad that the whole webcomics aspect of Zuda went away (before the Zuda imprint itself went away altogether last week!), as sad as that was at the time. I’m biased, of course, because we’re putting out a digital comic, but I feel that digital comic are the wave of the future, and webcomics are going to be left behind by readers.
Just a gut feeling, really. I have to start gathering some hard evidence on the issue. But things are changing so fast, it’s hard to get a hold of any really meaningful facts. It’s like the wild West, on smartphones and tablets instead of horses and stagecoaches.
You know, I feel like I’m just getting started on this topic, but I’m running long, and I have a bunch of deadlines breathing down my neck (including issue 2 of IN MAPS & LEGENDS, coming out in less than two weeks!). So I’ll talk more about the benefits (and drawbacks) of going digital, and what I think’s gonna happen to paper comics (short answer — they’re not going away any time soon, just like paper books aren’t going to die out either).
So — if you’ve got any questions or stuff you’d like me to try to address in my usual roundabout way, leave a comment or shoot me an email! This digital party’s just getting started!