It was either this or loading up Pokemon Go.

§ August 15th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 6 Comments

So a couple of weeks ago my parents got themselves a pair of new iPhones, and as part of the deal they received a couple of free iPad Minis. They kept one, and gave the other to me.

Now I was trying to figure out what to do with it, exactly…I have another tablet, a Nook, which I used primarily for book readin’, as I generally used desktop computers for fooling around on the internet. But given my recent entry into store ownership (that store being Sterling Silver Comics, located in the heart of beautiful Camarillo, CA) and my increased work hours, I’ve been falling behind on my reading, be it comic books, actual physical novels or virtual novels on said Nook. Now, I did power up the Nook again just recently, to take advantage of the recent ebook settlement credit I had in the Barnes and Noble account to finally get that final Dexter novel, and I totally plan on reading it as soon as I finish these other two books I’m in the middle of (yes, two, I paused reading one to read the other). If it takes me this long to get around to reading something on my Nook (which I do enjoy, by the way), what am I going to do with yet another tablet?

Well, I think I may have found a possible use…the Comixology app.

GASP! What? A gentleman whose livelihood depends on the selling of physical media comic books, delving into the digital alternative of same? MONOCLE LOSS: IMMINENT.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Mostly I poked around some of the free offerings just to see what reading a digital comic on one of these newfangled contraptions was like. Of course, I tried it out with Swamp Thing #1 (1972), and enjoyed the guided reading, where it goes from panel(s) to panel(s), zooming in when necessary, as you swipe the screen from page to page. (I did notice Swamp Thing’s word balloon from this page was miscolored…don’t know if that was a deliberate artistic choice or a mistake.) Anyway, for an Old Person like myself who still prefers holding an actual comic book in my hand, I found the Comixology thing an interesting novelty. I know many people find it a convenience, and it’s certainly a cost-effective way for smaller publishers to get their material into the marketplace.

Now, while I would prefer comics on actual paper, the digital alternative does seem to solve a particular dilemma I have as an owner of an Actual Comic Book Store That Sells Actual Back Issues.

Recently, I acquired another collection of ’60s and ’70s comics, including a small stack of Metal Men. Metal Men is one of those series I’d always meant to collect…it was one of those series I’d planned on tackling after finishing my run of the original Doom Patrol, though after completing that run, I never got around to seeking out the other series. It’s not like I didn’t have opportunity, as my previous place of employment usually had a good selection of them. But it was financial constraints, not really wanting to get started on chasing down more comics, getting distracting by other shiny objects…there were a whole lot of reasons why I never got around to it.

And here we are, years later, at this point in my comic collecting, and I’m still not really looking to start yet another back issue hunt. Yes, I’m still filling holes in my ’70s Atlas/Seaboard comics, I need a couple more comics to round out my Inferior 5, and I’ll grab any fanzines that come within reach, but I’m now buying back issues to resell in the store, not to fill my own boxes at home. I need to show some restraint, as any old comic I decide to keep for myself is suddenly a comic that’s not going to make me any money. As much as I’d love to take all these recently-acquired Metal Men home and love them and pet them and squeeze them and call them George, I need them to make me some scratch. I don’t even particularly want to “borrow” them and take them home, since it might take me a while to get through them and I don’t want to take a chance on losing a sale. (And no, I don’t really have time to read comics at the store.)

Here’s where the digital comics thing comes in. If I were to buy them as digital comics, that’s not taking product out of my store that I could resell, and that reduces the time I’d spend searching for these. I don’t necessarily need to have all these Metal Men in the original physical format…I’d just like to read them, and digital versions would be good enough.

Of course, after thinking about all that, it turns out those original Metal Men are not available through this app, but I suppose it’s only a matter of time. If DC eventually does some softcover color editions, as opposed to the high-end DC Archives or that black and white Showcase book, I’d rather get those, but digital would be fine. But this particular strategy might come in handy for any other older comics I’d like to read but not take away from store stock…or even comics that I’m likely not to see anytime soon, like that New York World’s Fair book.

So this iPad Mini looks like an interesting way to supplement my comics reading…I certainly don’t want digital to replace my beloved physical comics, but I realize the day may come sooner than I’d want it. Just give me two or three decades to make a living off of selling actual items before you younglings push Old Man Mike out of the way to download Marvel’s newest line of monthly first issues.

6 Responses to “It was either this or loading up Pokemon Go.”

  • Andrew Davison says:

    One reason why I prefer hardcopy books over digital is that they keep my book-buying compulsion under control (to some degree).

    It’s a lot harder to ignore a physical pile of books waiting to be read than a series of files on a mobile device. The pile tells me to slow up a bit on buying more stuff.

  • Erij says:

    I am a big fan of the Hoopla app. With my county library card I can “borrow” 8 digital comics a month. I am using it mainly for stuff like Transformers or Ghostbusters that I am interested in trying out but not necessarily willing to part with cash for

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    I like Comixology’s pop-up sales. I picked up the run of Transformers vs. GI Joe for $11 the other day, something I was intrigued by before but not enough to pay cover price. And they add bronze/silver age Marvel & DC all the time so eventually they’ll get around to Metal Men. I definitely feel more like a consumer than a comics reader or appreciator this way, though, but it’s the best space-saver and it’s great to be able to read at night without disturbing my sleeping wife.

  • King of the Moon says:

    Advantage of digital: I can zoom in so don’t need my reading glasses.

  • DanielT says:

    Here’s the thing about digital versions of old comics: they usually look better than the actual comics. Most recent example for me, the digital copies of Suicide Squad do far better justice to Luke McDonnell’s art than the original comics. You see comics in a new light when they’ve been freed from their cheap printing. (I suppose the tpbs they’ve been doing of SS look good, but I haven’t seen them.)

    And a diminished iPad is a diminished experience. It’s a steep investment, but my 12.9″ iPad Pro completely changed my mind about digital comics.

  • David Alexander McDonald says:

    I’m reading a lot of comics on the iPad Air, both through ComiXology and via bundle purchases, and rather like this approach. The big issues, of course, is space. I’m amazed at how quickly a 64Gb iPad fills up (of course, that ARCHIE: 75 YEARS book in pdf does take 1.2Gb by itself.)

    I’m doing print books now entirely as omnibuses and selected trades…Supergirl makes the cut, of course (you have Swamp Thing, I have Supergirl.)