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Marvel Comics App announcement sends tongues, and fingers, wagging

by  in Comic News Comment

Spurred by Marvel’s official announcement of its iPad app, and early reviews of its performance on Apple’s new media slate, “Marvel Comics Arrive” briefly rocketed to the top of Twitter’s trending-topics list this morning.

But as some comics fans read the raves from the likes of the Chicago Sun-Times’ Andy Ihnatko, The New York Times’ David Pogue and BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin, or grumbled over the $1.99-per-title price tag, author-blogger Cory Doctorow was busy taking a stand against the iPad — and the Marvel Comics App.

“I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them,” Doctorow wrote this morning at BoingBoing. “If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. […] So what does Marvel do to ‘enhance’ its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites. Nice one, Misney.”

In response, author and comics annotator Jess Nevins tweeted: “That whooshing sound you just heard was Cory Doctorow missing the point on digital comics.”

Meanwhile, on The New York Times’ ArtsBeat blog, David Itzkoff asks, “Can the iPad Do Whatever a Comics Store Can?” He doesn’t offer an answer, but Marvel’s Ira Rubenstein does. Unsurprisingly, given the number of egg shells scattered throughout any discussion of digital distribution and the direct market, the response is a firm no.

“I don’t think anything can replace the comic-book store experience,” Rubenstein, executive vice president of Marvel’s global digital media group, tells Itzkoff. “That Wednesday, when people go to the stores, I call it a mini Comic-Con. It’s where fans gather and talk about the books and they argue about the books and speculate about the books. That experience isn’t going to change.”

In other comics-related Twitter news, Dark Horse’s series of “April Fool’s Comics” tweets also broke onto the U.S. trending-topics list on Thursday.