Saturday, June 5, 2010

Marvel Trying Same Day Digital Comics - Just Barely

We live in the digital age. The print medium is dying faster than a terminally ill cancer patient with full blown AIDS and a history of heavy meth use. Newspapers are dying and so are magazines. Most are trying to survive by adapting to the digital medium, providing their content online instead of in print. Naturally, you would think the comic industry would get in on the act and in some ways they have. Marvel Comics does offer an extensive library of comics online through a web based interface. But it's clumsy, clunky, and most of the content is old and dated. It takes months if not years for more contemporary comics to make it online and by then everybody has read the spoilers and there really isn't much point in getting them.

Fanboys of many types dream of being able to wake up on a Wednesday morning, log into the internet, and access their comic subscription the same way many newspaper subscribers can now access theirs. It would be the holy grail of comic fandom, allowing people who don't live near comic shops to access their subscriptions. It would also save many from the weekly rectal surgery that is waiting for subscriptions to arrive in the mail. This process has been agonizing for decades because the books almost never arrive on time. And in the age of spoilers, it's really redundant. That is, until now.

Marvel Announces Same Day Digital Trial

It seems Marvel is finally taking the step and offering same day digital comics. But there's a pretty big catch. They're only offering one (not a type) count em one comic. It's the Iron Man Annual and oh can only access it if you have the Marvel app for the Ipad. Even though the Ipad has become the new holy grail of tech heads, there are only about 2 million out there right now and that's a pretty limited audience considering how few of those may be Marvel comic fans. They claim this is just a test run, but they're setting themselves up to fail right off the bat. There are far better tests they could do, but no. They have to be extra careful and by careful I mean willfully retarded.

It's the same story as the music business years ago. Everybody was getting their dick caught in a toaster because people were downloading songs illegally. They couldn't stop it because tech heads were always going to find a way. So what did they do? They made new avenues to download that same content legally through Itunes. Now Itunes is the biggest supplier of music in the world. They offer the same service Napster once did, only it's legal and the quality is better.

The same thing is going on with comics right now. Every week when new comics are released, those comics are scanned in scanners most anybody can pick up at a Best Buy and turned into a file format that people can read. They're easy to make, easy to distribute, and easy to share. They're never going to be stopped. Marvel can try suing the users and the distributes. It won't work. They'll just become about as beloved as the RIAA, who currently rank somewhere between the KKK and the Nazis in terms of fan support.

So here's a radical business model for Marvel and other comic companies. Instead of trying to fight these online comic distribution centers, why not one-up them the way Itunes did? Take the comics you create, put them into a new file format that's of a much higher quality than the bootlegs, and make them accessible through an Itunes-like program that they run on their end. Heck, since it's a comic they can still put in Google ads for extra money so they can still keep their sponsors. Like Itunes, they can charge a few bucks for each comic or a lump sum for a subscription or event. It's practically a guarantee that fans would line up in droves to subscribe (and more importantly fork over their hard earned money) to get this service. Now this may mean comic shops would go the same way as CD stores, but they could adapt as well by offering gift certificates or CD compilations of comics in addition to limited prints for the collectors.

It makes so much sense that a nutless monkey could think of it. This is the future whether Marvel likes it or not and this one tease is like a hot girl just showing half a nipple at a strip club that clearly says fully nude on the front. I personally would be willing to pay extra if it meant I could access all my comics on Wednesday morning from an online interface. It's clear Marvel, DC, Dynamite, and every other comic company want my money. I'm willing to give it to them too, but the subscriptions are a pain in the ass and there's only so much an ass like mine can take. Nuff said.

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