She Has No Head! - Print vs. Digital

In the spirit of the “defining superheroes” column (which in case you haven’t guessed is about my favorite column ever for the wonderful dialogue it created and the surprisingly low number of jerks that showed up to that dialogue) I wanted to pick your brains about Print and Digital comics.

Before I open this up to comments, thoughts, rants, etc., I want to give you a general state of where I’m at on this thing, my concerns and interests going forward, and what spurred me to talk about this today.

#1. I 100% prefer print. Pretty much in all things, but especially in comics. I LOVE the physical object (especially when it is beautiful and/or well made which we get a lot of in print comics).

#2. In addition to preferring print to digital it makes my head EXPLODE WITH RAGE that comics generally charge the same price for digital and print comics. UNACCEPTABLE. I don’t know how this happened but it is one of the great mysteries (and rip offs) of modern times (*see: #6!)

#3. I have mannnnnnny mannnnnnnny comics, both graphic novels that can go on a shelf and bagged and boarded books in short boxes (I think I have 10 short boxes in my apartment and probably another 10 in my parents’ basement…and that’s the much deliberately whittled down version).

#4. I live in a small 2-bedroom apartment in Manhattan (with my boyfriend) so we have a bedroom we share, a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and the second bedroom is an office we share. We have been living in this space together for almost 8 years (whut. omg. I gotta move.) Anyway, we are in no way hoarders and we for the most part like our apartment really neat and uncluttered, but we are two normal human people that love books, comics, movies, art (and much more) and as a result we maxed out on space abouuuuut three years ago. It sucks. Big time.

#5. I now only buy digital comics for space reasons and to a lesser degree convenience - i.e. if the space wasn’t an issue I would forgo the convenience factor and still buy print.

*#6. It seems like I (and people like me) are the reason digital comics have been able to get away with charging the same price for print and digital…because desperate morons like me who don’t have other options have gone ahead and bought them and now the system knows that we will pay for them at that price if we HAVE to and so now they have no reason to change. I have never been angrier with myself. Still, what can I do now? As far as I know...NOTHING.

#7. As a sidebar to #2. I must admit that as someone who has to do a lot of comics research these days for pitches and writing purposes (both writing comics and writing columns) it’s WAY easier to call up my digital library and look at something on my ipad than to dig through short boxes all afternoon. The latter is much more fun of course, but I’d get NOTHING done. So there ARE advantages to digital comics over print above and beyond just the space saving aspects (though that makes me no more okay about the price gouging).

#8. Additionally, while I don’t want local comic book stores to suffer, the rise of digital comics buying has SO helped bring comics to people that don’t have stores nearby or worse, have felt unwelcome in stores nearby…and that’s an amazing equalizer…it’s the kind of thing that makes me sort of love digital comics. Digital comics, for all their flaws do feel like COMICS FOR EVERYBODY and that’s very much something I’m behind. Digital comics plus social media (twitter/tumblr/whatever) creating a comics community for those who don’t have or don’t feel comfortable IRL stores/communities is a huge win, for comics, for readers, for diversity. This kind of makes me love them more. However...

#9. The entire reason I've been thinking about print vs. digital so much lately and am writing about it now is because other than the price point issues which I just have no idea how to address, I thought I had come to terms with buying digital. Yet…about a month ago I held Jem and the Holograms #1 in my hands and it was SO MUCH BETTER than reading it on my ipad. For some reason I didn’t expect this. As someone who has published both basic digital editions and gorgeous hardcover print volumes of my prose, I did not expect to be so struck by the difference between print and digital when it came to my comics. But I was.


Does it mean anything? Should it?

What do you guys think of digital comics? What’s the future of digital comics? Why do we still not see any solid/reliable/regular stats on digital sales? Trying to figure out what a book sells is more impossible than ever…will this ever get fixed?

Do you ever even read digital? Do you read it exclusively? Will you ever give up print? Why?

Alright, that’s it for my “position” and all the questions I have…sound off with all your digital vs. print thoughts in the comments and let’s make this a great and really productive discussion!

Kelly Thompson is a freelance writer living in Manhattan. She is the author of the superhero novel THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING recently optioned to become a film, and her new novel STORYKILLER is out now. She is also writing IDW’s JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS, co-writing Marvel’s forthcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL & THE CAROL CORPS, and her first graphic novel HEART IN A BOX is forthcoming from Dark Horse this year. You can find Kelly all over the place, but twitter may be the easiest: @79semifinalist

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