Tuesday, August 6

Paper vs. digital

IN a recent conversation with a friend and fellow comics enthusiast I realized that the digital revolution has its limitations. As much as I'm enamored with digital publishers such as Graphicly, which posts digital comics on sites such as Amazon and Kobo, after a year of selling digitally I feel that more than ever comic collectors love paper comics.

Recently I've been reading the collected works of Iron Man Vol.1 by Stan Lee and Don Heck. If you are interested in taking a trip down memory lane I can't recommend a better volume. The stories are to the point, often humorously cheesy, and fun as heck (in the tradition of Stan Lee, pun intended).

The stories are delightful but more importantly they reminded me what I love about comics. The stories are succinct but take the time necessary to develop the characters. There are the usual abbreviations, some call them cliches, that move the stories along at a crisp pace. There are no predictable fight scenes nor over-the-top imagery for the sake of visual pyrotechnics. In fact most panels are quite sparse. Whether the characters are off model or not seems relatively unimportant. Upon finishing the volume I wondered if I would have enjoyed it as much in a digital format.

Ultimately it's hard to imagine a true comics aficionado choosing a digital format over paper. Would hardcore fine art collectors find a digital image of paintings by Da Vinci and Van Gogh satisfying? Or would they prefer original art hanging on their walls even if by lesser talents? Just as paintings are best appreciated as tactile, physical objects so too are comics best enjoyed as tangible, collectible books. The more an entertainment is appreciated for its graphic quality the less people will be willing to only consume such entertainment as a digital product. Digital comics seems severed from too many aspects of the aesthetic experience.

When this light bulb went on I realized why The Subterranean project might be stumbling. According to downloads readers are undoubtedly enjoying it but until it is offered as a physical comic I feel SubT will not enjoy maximum success.

The ideal expression of the Subterranean would be a traditional comics format, sometimes referred to as floppies. Each of the five stories are 30 pages and I would want them printed on acid-free newsprint in harmony with the stylistic theme of the project. Such editions would be an ideal vehicle to take to Comicon, or similar venues, in order to attract maximum attention.

If any of you have alternative opinions, sources for printers, or other relevant ideas I hope you will add them to the comments. Many thanks.

Brad Teare August 2013

1 comment:

  1. This how I enjoy comics. It just feels right to be able to roll up a comic, stuff it upright in back pocket of your jeans and ride home on your bike to read it.


I look forward to your comments.