OLD MAN DAN DREAMS IN DIGITAL
It’s hard to change when you’ve done it the same way since forever.
How many times have we all said that? Quite a few, I’d imagine. It’s even more so when it comes to a lifelong hobby. Picking up my first comic book off of the spinner rack in 1987, comics only came one way: the physical book. So I read it and I loved it. And then I bought another. And another. And so on and so on. Time passed, and I grew from casual fan to obsessive collector. Space for all of my four-colored treasures was eventually at a premium. Not to mention the hassle of dragging grocery store boxes full of stapled newsprint from dumpy apartment to dumpy apartment when I was a younger lad.
“Help me with these boxes, will ya?”
“Careful with that!”
“What’s in these, bowling balls?”
“No, stupid. My comics!”
Yeah. A real hassle.
The Great Comic Book Purge hit in 2002 after we got married. All of my single issue comics were sitting in the hall closet, stacked poorly in multiple Cub Foods grocery store boxes. They were getting pretty beat up, and I couldn’t see dragging them across town when we moved into our first home. Time to put away childish things, and all that. So, I sold ‘em. The funds paid for the moving truck. Fair deal, I thought. Surprisingly, I didn’t cry. Too much. (I did hold onto the trades, so that helped to soften the blow.) As I’ve gotten older, I’m still enjoying comics. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of the creators I’ve long admired. Because I enjoy going to my local comic shop, I’ve tried to stick to the habit of trading the monthly floppy books for the collected trade collections. But that’s not very cost effective and the books keep piling up. That’s not even taking into account the massive amounts of regular books crying for space on our bookshelves. And my house isn’t getting any bigger.
Digital comics are nothing new. I have read books on the Kindle machine, but I’m a traditionalist! I like to hold the paper copy! On my lap, laying on a flat surface, as to not wrinkle the book or get sweaty fingerprints on the cover, which happens more times than I care to think about. I’m not down on digital; I’ve just never read comics that way before. But as I’ve gotten older, my mindset has also changed: I don’t really want to own more stuff. I just want to enjoy the stuff I like. This is the mindset that has lead us to stream most of our music from Amazon, and to watch most of our movies from Netflix and the like. You don’t own the product when you stream it; you just get to enjoy it as much as you want to.
Enter: Holiday Season 2015
The Hanukah T-Rex (Don’t ask. Our house is a strange place.) delivered us an iPad! Comixology is the premier provider for purchasing digital comic books. If you want to purchase your weekly titles from many different publishers and never leave your couch? Comixology is the way to go. However, Marvel Comics came out with their own app: Marvel Unlimited. For a small monthly fee, you can read thousands of their books, going back to the early 1960’s. Pretty sweet deal.
You get it. The actual reading part of the app is well designed, and the responsive nature of the iPad screen is unmatched, as is the clarity of the picture. Actually navigating the app to find what you’re looking for? Well, once you figure out the idiosyncrasies, you’re good to go. So yeah, this weekend I’ve been sucked into the digital world, one minute reading SECRET WARS from 1984, and the next seeing what the fuss is all about with UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL. Will this lead to me abandoning the world of physical comics? I doubt it. Unlike the Android’s Dungeon from the Simpson’s, our local comic shop is an important part of my weekly socialization. Translation: I like the people that work there and I like supporting local businesses.
I’ve long said, it doesn’t matter how you read your books or comics. Print. Digital. Whatever. Just so long as you read ‘em, they’ll keep making ‘em.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Miles Morales Spider-Man comics to download.