Appgasm – Comics apps

Appgasm - Comics apps

Welcome to Mookychick’s newest comics/zeitgeist column, THESE FILTHY TIMES. Today, comics fiend and man about town Filthy Nevs asks if comics apps are killing the comics industry.

I joined the 21st century a few weeks back and bought myself a smartphone. Not a very exciting story, but the phone I had wasn’t so much on its last legs as bouncing on the remaining stump that oozed pus as a result of the gangrene. I hate phone shops; they make me feel like I’m the next test subject for Portal, so I did what I was always do when I have to deal with something I’m not very sure about: I got drunk first.

After leaving the store, having spent money I can ill afford on this thing, I spent an hour looking at it, swearing at it, wondering why it wanted to know if I wanted to download any ‘apps’. I’m a Luddite, I admit it. You have to drag me screaming to new tech. Which is one of the reasons I’ve held off on reading comics on the internet. Somehow it doesn’t ‘feel’ like I’m really reading the content unless it’s on the printed page.

But this app flashed up: Comixology. I kind of knew about this thing. Okay, well, free comics… that’ll tide me over getting to work. It turns out I’m actually quite happy reading funnybooks on a phone. Looking at this thing, I thought: ‘If I wanted, I could just buy all of ‘Blackest Night’ right now. In fact, if I did, it’d work out a bit cheaper than popping to the shop and buying it. Also, I wouldn’t need somewhere in my house to store it once I’d finished reading it.’

Which stopped me for a second, and got me worried.

I don’t know about you, but my home looks like the night after an explosion in a Diamond warehouse. The place is wall-to-wall trades, hardbacks, long boxes, the like. And I’m pretty picky with what I buy. If I spend more than 10 quid on comics in a week, it’s a heavy one. I got very lucky with a bolt from the blue a few years back that appeared like Zeus to say ‘There is no point owning all the issues of Avengers. You will not reread them.’ So I tend not to buy anything I’m not going to read that day.

But still, I’m 34, I’ve been buying this stuff for over 20 years and there’s loads of it. Storage is a problem for me, and God knows what’ll happen if I need to move again.

And again, I’m looking at my phone. Before, the comixology thing was a brief doodad. I’d read a 1st issue of something I had been meaning to try out anyway. Now I’m wondering, honestly: ‘If I can simply click on a link, pay via my debit card, have the comics sent to my phone and read them a minute later…. why am I paying the travel fare to go the comic shop, hope that the shop has ordered enough copies of everything I want, read them and then get home to try and find space for something I already don’t have room for?’

Before, the answer was simple; very little stuff comes out on legal comic websites the same day as the hard copy. We’re hardcore; we want the new stuff now. But come September, DC starts putting out their relaunched books online the same day they ship to comic shops.

Thinking as a reader and all round lazy git: WIN!

Thinking as a person who’s been involved in comic shops since I was 15…. SPIDER-SENSE…TINGLING!

Honestly, I think we should be worried. Or rather, more worried. Amazon, eBay and Abebooks have already taken a large chunk of the new trade paperback, graphic novel and back issue market from brick and mortar stores. This is going to hurt, because there’s no way that Marvel aren’t going to follow suit on this same day hard copy/digital release date sooner rather than later. Once that happens, IDW, Dark Horse, Boom, etc will have to follow suit. Moreover, I don’t think that the $2.99 price point is going to stick around. I think it’s an appeasement to make retailers feel alright for a while and it’ll be interesting to see how the online price war is going to manifest itself.

So, the end is nigh, and all that. Except it doesn’t have to be.