Friday, May 22, 2015

Volume 5, Number 3

Vol. 5                                                                                                                   No.3

                                           from the
                                    GREAT WHITE NORTH!
                                       Jonathan A. Gilbert
                                     Copyright-2015: All Rights Reserved.


When discussing the problems with print comics being sold exclusively online last time out I mentioned that digital comics had their own set of problems.
The first and most obvious problem is that digital comics don't fit in with conventional comics collecting. While you can store them and pass them back and forth between friends just by their very nature of being digital they don't work a a possible collector's item. With print comics there is a finite number of copies and over time given the right conditions a $3, $4 or $5 comic can increase (or decrease) in value. With digital comics you pay say 99-cents for one today and they will be worth the same (or less) five or ten years down the road. Also, you can also make multiple copies of a digital comic which means in theory there are an infinite number on the market. Not much collectors value there.
The next problem with digital comics is their readability or rather lack thereof. There are a number of people-myself among them-who find it difficult to stare at a screen for an extended period of time. Some of the symptoms that result include headaches, blurring vision and a growing difficulty to concentrate. For people like me reading a digital comic simply isn't an option. In many cases there are print versions available but there are lots that aren't resulting in me and others like me missing out on a lot of potential reading pleasure.
Then there are the problems from the creator's standpoint. On the  plus side it is extremely easy to get your comics out into the digital world. So easy in fact that there are thousands of digital comics available with the majority  of the creators hoping upon hope that they will be discovered and become superstars.
It ain't gonna happen, folks. Not only are the majority of these digital comics mundane but many are also extremely derivative. And there is so much stuff out there that it is almost impossible to catch anyone's attention; no matter how much publicity you engage in.
Then there is the fact that most of these digital comics are free. For comics creators such as myself who actually try to make a living at this that makes it extremely difficult to earn an income. Even at 99-cents a copy for a comic by the time you divide that between the writer, penciler, inker, letterer and colourist even if you sell 1,000 copies you don't exactly earn something resembling a living wage.
Now to be fair digital comics do have their uses. As promotional material if done correctly they can be invaluable. But the minuses far outweigh the pluses. Maybe one day digital comics will be the way to go in the comics industry for professionals. Just not today.

Jonathan A. Gilbert is a freelance writer, editor and occasional publisher who lives in London Ontario Canada. He can be reached by email at