One of the great potential boons of digital is that it can bring back older comics at a reasonable price, without the problems of distribution and per-unit costs that caused them to disappear in the first place. Three examples popped up this week, while everyone was bickering over same-day releases of new comics:
Eddie Campbell announced on his blog that his early graphic novel Dapper John in the Days of the Ace Rock ‘n’ Roll Club is available as a standalone iPad app. The comics, a series of interlocking seven-page stories, were drawn in 1978-79. Campbell self-published them in the 1980s, and Fantagraphics did a collected edition in 1993. The app, which was produced by a Tokyo company called Panel Nine, includes not just the original run of comics but also the original small press covers, Alan Moore’s review of the comic (which started the ball rolling), and sundry other extras, some of which have not been seen in years. So it’s sort of a digital collector’s edition.
Batton Lash’s Supernatural Law is another vintage comic (well, from the 1990s) that is getting a new life in digital form. In this case, the comic is not its own app but is available via the Comics + and Graphicly platforms at a reasonable digital price: Wolff & Byrd #1 is free, and subsequent issues are 99 cents.
Finally, the Japanese publisher Ohzora, the parent company of the now-defunct U.S. publisher Aurora, has not given up on the English-language market, apparently: Its English site makes clear that it has lots of manga available for licensing, and in a few cases, it’s skipping the middleman and going straight to digital. And that means: Project X Cup Noodle, possibly the greatest manga ever published in English, is now available as an iPad app. This was one of the great oddball manga of the U.S. manga boom: The story of the development of instant noodles in a cup, presented as a series of heroic struggles. It was originally licensed by Digital Manga but published only in print; the license must have lapsed, because Ohzora’s app uses Digital’s cover dress, now strangely appropriate, for the iPad app.