Monday, October 24, 2011

Digital Comics...The New "D.C."?

This year at NYCC one of the hot topics for discussion was the growing popularity of digital comics and what they might mean to the future of the hobby. The question of whether or not Digital Comics would become part of the retail landscape has already been answered. They are here to stay. Look at the home page right here at CBJ and you will see a link to a digital comics vendor.

The question of digital comics breaks down into two parts, aesthetic and financial.

Let’s talk bucks first.

Digital comics make all the financial sense in the world. They are ridiculously cheap to produce and distribute when compared to their printed counterparts.

Both digital and print comics are created in the same way. Someone writes, someone draws, someone inks and someone edits. No difference.

However it changes drastically from there. Take print first:

Presses and press time needs to be secured and the comics must be physically produced at some cost per copy to the publisher. Press/printing time is NOT cheap.

Physical Comics are printed on PAPER. Again, not cheap.

Physical comics use INK.

Physical comics use staples.

They have to be broken down, packed in boxes, sealed, stored, inventoried,

shipped, and in some cases returned.

Some copies are damaged, destroyed or stolen in this process.

As someone who works in Logistics and transportation I can tell you that NONE of that is cheap. It’s why you pay so much for your copy of Fear Itself!

Another thing about physical comics…you have to leave your house to get them. For those of us who live close to a comic shop this is actually FUN, but for many collectors who do NOT have a shop readily available, collecting becomes a very arduous task. Those collectors have to travel around looking for their books, or subscribe to the comics they want. They generally won’t have the books on a Wednesday AND they pay shipping more often than not.

Physical comics take up a HUGE amount of space. Don’t believe me? Come by my house and I’ll give you a tour of the “dungeon”, IF you can actually fit down there! It’s wall to wall comic boxes with no end in sight. That ALSO costs me money as I pay for every square foot of my house just like anyone else with a mortgage.

I never ran the numbers but I would bet it costs me several hundred dollars a year to store my comics, between the above mentioned space, comic boxes, boards, bags, and shelves etc. I own upwards of 15,000 comics now and they are ALL bagged and boarded. If you want to make sure your comics STAY in good shape you need to do REPEAT this process for all of your books every few years. YOW!

Digital comics won’t deteriorate. They will look EXACTLY the same 100 years from now as they do the day they are created. The don’t get ripped. They don’t get musty. They don’t get water damaged.

Again, digital comics make all the financial sense in the world.
BUT, I’ll take print thankyouverymuch.

Why? If Digital Comics are all THAT why would I EVER want an archaic, nasty, soot ridden, (ugh!) PHYSICAL comic?

Here is why…

Physical comics are self contained. They ARE the app and I don’t need a gadget to read them.

You can HOLD a physical comic in your hands, turn the pages and lose yourself in other worlds on a lazy afternoon at the beach, or in the car, even on the POT! Anywhere.

You can fold it in half and put it in your back pocket.

You can carefully maintain it in mylar and proudly display your collection to your friends.

You can physically flip through your boxes of comics, reliving the halcyon days of yore (or mine) when you first obtained these multi colored beauties.
You can get your favorite creator to sign your physical comics….if you’re nice!

Yes the DIGITAL image may never fade while the physical one DOES, but the physical comic just looks better to me. Sort of how some people swear that vinyl sounds better than a CD or digital recording.

Physical comics are collectable. Someday you might sell them for a profit. Maybe not. But it is a lot of fun grading and pricing them!

I spent several happy hours yesterday putting my NYCC purchases into bags and boards and then nesting them in their proper boxes while taking another look at each and every one. Can’t do that with digital. I suppose you can create a new folder on your computer from time to time but it ain’t the same!

Same Day (when there ARE same day) Digital comics COST roughly the same as physical comics. Why would I spend the same money for a DC as a PC? (I suspect that, before too much longer, digital comics released the same day as their physical counterparts will cost a lot less than the hard copies.)
I do think that, for the foreseeable future that digital and physical comics will co-exist. Each format has it’s virtues.

Digital in particular means that ANYONE can publish, which is a wonderful opportunity for creators AND fans.

Physical comics have all the strengths, and flaws, of being tangible, which is actually a virtue in itself.

So fold your comic and stick it in your back pocket AND fire up digital on your iPad.

Either way…it’s COMICS!!

That’s 30!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Requiem For The True Superman

As this was “The Summer Of The Superhero Movie”, I was going to be writing about my opinion on the best ever SH movie. In my opinion that continues to be Superman-The Movie. The idea began to germinate in my mind when I went to see Captain America and found that it shared a quality with the earlier film that I think is essential in a great superhero film (or any film for that matter). The central character must be HONEST. The actor must take the subject matter absolutely seriously even when it is in the fantastical realm of science fiction or fantasy. This is especially crucial with an Iconic character such as Cap or Superman. Chris Evans was so successful as Cap because he was HONEST as an actor with the character.

Because HE believed, WE believed.

No one ever did this better than Chris Reeve as Superman. In fact he may have been the single most honest actor I have ever seen. Not necessarily the most talented, although he was certainly that, just the most honest. He respected Superman…was honest in his portrayal and never made light of the Man of Steel. And while his CLARK was over the top, he was also a very HUMAN being. Again, honesty.
As I mentioned earlier this WAS going to be a column about my take on Superman-The Movie but then I got to thinking that the anniversary of Christopher’s death was coming up. Sure enough when I looked it up the anniversary is October 10th.

So I decided that this column would be why I do believe that Superman was an absolutely REAL person.

In the final analysis you can best judge a person’s essential character when they are under duress. MOST people shine when things go well. But how does a person react when they have everything stripped away?

One can say that up until his accident, Chris reeve lead a storybook life. He was a major motion picture star, had legions of fans, a lovely wife and many causes that he supported. It must have been pretty cool to be Chris!
Then, in a blink the single most important thing he had was stripped from him. His health. He went from being a vital, athletic man to near total paralysis. Many people would have turned towards the wall, given up, or even turned bitter. Many people would have grown angry and lashed out at those around them. I am sure that Chris struggled with all of this.
But what he DID was become the real Superman.

He embraced his lifelong activism more than ever, championing the necessity for Stem Cell research. He became a spokesman for this cause, tirelessly working to get the message out.

Reeve was elected Chairman of the American Paralysis Association and Vice Chairman of the National Organization on Disability. He co-founded the Reeve-Irvine Research Center, which is now one of the leading spinal cord research centers in the world. He created Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to speed up research through funding, and to use grants to improve the quality of the lives of people with disabilities. The Foundation to date has given more than $65 million for research, and more than $8.5 million in quality-of-life grants.

The Foundation has funded a new technology called "Locomotor Training" that uses a treadmill to mimic the movements of walking to help develop neural connections, in effect re-teaching the spinal cord how to send signals to the legs to walk. This technology has helped several paralyzed patients walk again.

He never quit. He believed that, one day he would walk again. He never waivered from that belief for the rest of his life. AND he shocked his doctors by actually regaining some movement.

In 2000, he began to regain some motor function, and was able to sense hot and cold temperatures on his body. Reeve then moved his left index finger on command. "I don't think Dr. McDonald would have been more surprised if I had just walked on water", said Reeve in an interview.

Chris WAS going to win. I really believe that Superman was going to fly again.

He just ran out of time.

On October 10, 2004 Chris Reeve died from cardiac arrest after being given antibiotics for an infection.

But he never gave up.

And that was his victory.

There is a line at the beginning of the 1970’s Bio-Pic “Brian’s Song”. It goes: “All true stories end in death.”

Chris’s life was a true story so it could not end any other way. But I like to think more about how he lived than how he died. And I especially like to think about how he left…



I believe in Superman.

He’s my hero.

His name was Christopher Reeve.

That’s 30.