The Basics of Digital Comics
Wed, April 21, 2021

The Basics of Digital Comics

Comic book-based movies are dominating the box office and comic book characters are taking over the pop culture scene / Photo by: David Holt via Flickr

 

Comic book-based movies are dominating the box office and comic book characters are taking over the pop culture scene. The entry of comics into mainstream entertainment can inspire people to read the actual source materials. But the popular stories churned out by Marvel and DC that have inspired their cinematic versions have decades behind them, so it's kind of hard to backtrack on those old issues, much harder to actually find them in magazine stands.

Good thing they also have their digital counterparts that are literally a fingertip away.

Into the Digital World

PCMag, an American computer magazine that offers lab-based comparative reviews of computing, consumer electronics, business technology, and internet products, defines digital comics as both the digital versions of print titles and original titles and comics published on websites (although the latter is mostly referred to as webcomics). New issues of digital comics are released at the same time as their physical counterparts.

Subscribing to digital comics means fans don't have to scavenge the bookstore racks to find the issue or title they are looking for. It also saves them the trip to the shop only to find out that the issue they were waiting for has already been sold out.

This makes digital comics more reliable than their print counterparts, says PCMag. It adds that digital comics will also include bonus materials that can't be found in their printed version—although they are usually priced the same. This is because even though they don't use raw materials like paper and ink, the cost goes to the manpower dedicated to converting comics from print to digital.

New issues of digital comics are released at the same time as their physical counterparts / Photo by: BruceEmmerling via Pixabay

 

Image comics specifically have to support various formats (PDF, ePub, etc) that require maintenance, tracking, and uploading to different digital marketplaces.

Moreover, the digital space will also likely have particular issues that have been published even years before digital comics came into the scene. PCMag says publishers are even making efforts to fill in the gaps of their catalog to provide their audience with a complete list of their titles.

"One of the most underrated aspects of a digital comic book store like Comixology is the opportunity that it gives readers to explore the medium's history," the computer magazine explains. "That said, Comixology and other digital comic book stores have just a splattering of comics from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s...That, however, may be due to the challenge of obtaining the source files."

They could afford to do this because stocking up on digital comics—even the ones that aren't appealing to the audience—don't need any physical space. Online news site CNET says digital publishing is a promising concept for those who are looking for material that represents their culture, sexuality, or other aspects of themselves.

A Transformed Industry

Digital comics are the evolution of traditional comics driven by technological advances that have blurred the lines that divide the creators from the fans and those who aspire to have their work be known, providing people with a bounty of digital comics and convenience.

The digital space provides these creators with a platform where they can share their work even if they can't physically publish them.

"We get a bunch of books that never even make it into print," David Steinberger, co-founder and CEO of Comixology, told CNET. "If it's professional and we think there's somebody out there who'll like it, we'll get it up onto the platform."

These materials also offer a new way of reading and experiencing comics. For instance, tablets and phones allow readers to zoom in and take a closer look into the details of their comics without having to bury their noses into the reading material.

"Enlarging panels to appreciate the art is definitely one of the pluses of digital," George Gene Gustines, a senior editor in graphics and video for the New York Times, said in an interview. "Colorists and letterers are often the unsung heroes on the creative side of comics, but reading digitally has made me appreciate them even more."

Gustines added that digital comics also gave for experimentation. In Marvel's Infinite Comics, the reader can control the pacing, reveal a new image, or even activate a minor special effect by simply tapping or clicking on their screens.

Print’s Not Dead

While the numerous benefits to digital comics would seem to hurt their printed brethren, it's actually far from that. In fact, digital comics may be helping print in terms of getting a new audience. "We have a lot of evidence that when people are new to comics altogether with Comixology, they become print buyers as well," Steinberger said.

CNET says the future of both digital and print comics become "much healthier" as the internet pulls in more people—whether it is a lifelong passion or as another form of entertainment.

As technology continues to advance, the branching history of comics will continue to grow; climbing and going into new territories with the help of technology.

While the numerous benefits to digital comics would seem to hurt their printed brethren, it's actually far from that. In fact, digital comics may be helping print in terms of getting a new audience / Photo by: Sam Howzit via Flickr