Friday, 17 February 2012

.1 Issues...The Good and the Bad

Recently Marvel has been putting out ".1" issues of their comics.  As I understand it, these .1 issues are meant to be a jumping on point for new readers.  When they first came about I thought they were going to be a one-time thing, but I keep seeing solicitations for new .1 issues so I guess that isn't the case.

I'm of 2 minds on these issues.  The long time comic book reader in me doesn't really like them.  I do like stand alone issues, without question, but since the .1 issues are usually done by a different creative team the tone of the .1 books just doesn't resonate with the rest of the series, at least in the ones I've read.  If I'm going to go back and reread a run (which I enjoy doing), I don't care for the .1 issue throwing off the tone of the main creative team.

Due to that lack of consistency, it seems to me that the .1 issues are also a way to pad the time the creative teams have to put out their book.  I'd rather see a planned fill-in issue than a mad scramble or delay, so if that's part of the strategy then that's fair enough.

I do, however, like Marvel making an effort to reach out to new readers.  Dan Slott commented on Twitter that for everyone who complains about the Amazing Spider #679.1 issue numbering, somebody else tells him that the numbering is why they picked it up.

I guess part of what bugs me is I don't care for the Big 2's "creative accounting" to get to milestone issues.  I've detailed this before using the Thor books as my example, so I won't go too deep into it here.  Basically, I don't like how books are canceled and relaunched with a new #1, only to revert back to the original numbers to get the sales boost of a #1 and a #500.  With the .1 issues, this approach to issue milestones can get even more convoluted.

I really do think that comics should look at adopting a volume system.  You get the sales boost of a #1 and a "final issue" every year or two, however long you decide a volume is going to be (I would say at minimum 12 issues since that's two-6 issue story arcs).  It would also make it far easier on new readers to break in and be able to follow along; to be honest, if I hadn't of bought the Thor books as they came out, trying to follow the story through the numbering system alone would be a nightmare (again, see the linked post for details).

So good on you Marvel for reaching out to new readers, but I think there is still work to be done as that same approach is going to make things even more confusing in the long-run.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Digital Comics...When & Why I Buy Them

I have to say, I really enjoy reading comics on my tablet.  With that said, I'm pretty choosey about what I purchase.  Not necessarily because of the content, I like reading a variety of books, but moreso because of cost.

I generally will not pay more than $1.99 for a single issue, and even then it has to be something I really want.  However, if I can get a digital book for $.99, then I'm willing to snag a bunch.  I know that debate rages about the price of digital books, and I don't pretend to know all of the costs involved with digital, but I do know what the value is to me.

If I shell out $3.99 for a physical comic book, I own something.  If I resell it I'm probably not going to make a profit, but I am probably able to get something for it.  I can't do that with a digital book.  What happens if the company I bought the digital book from goes under, and I suffer a data loss?  I'm now out that money, whereas with a physical book once I have it I have it, barring something like a basement flood or fire I'm not going to lose them; and even if I do, I have insurance on my physical books, you can't do that with digital.

That is why I will not spend $3.99 on a digital comic book that takes me 5 minutes to read.  However, there are times when I am willing to spend that much or more, and I wish that more of these collections existed.

While browsing around on the Comixology app on my tablet, I happened across an X-Men/Spider-Man digital pack for $5.99 that was over 150 pages, containing team-ups of Marvel's merry mutants and their friendly neighborhood arachnid from various comics over the years.  Now this is exactly the kind of initiative that can be done easily in the digital comics world. I mean, you made the money on the content the first time around, why not offer it in a bundle like this to entice readers to try out something they haven't read before?  In fact, this was created to promote a (then) upcoming crossover between the two teams, that's great marketing!

I would love to see more stuff like this...why not put Bloodties together in a digital pack for $5 as marketing for the upcoming Avengers vs X-Men?  Or in the lead up to the Galactus-Asgard snorefest war put out a bundle of cosmic Thor stories, such as his battles against the Celestials, Ego the Living Planet, etc.  Marvel has made their money already with these stories, so why not use them as gravy to marketing upcoming events?

Really my only beefs about the X-Men/Spider-Man bundle was one of the stories within ended on a cliffhanger and the resolution wasn't included.  My other beef was that I already owned 4 of the issues in the pack, and there was no way to read what issues were included before purchasing.  Fix that little mistake and I'd be very satisfied.

Feel free to steal this idea Marvel, DC, any comic company that wants my money!

Monday, 13 February 2012

Smell Like An Avenger

I was reading an article today about a line of Avengers colognes and perfumes coming out in advance of the movie, and while at first I scoffed at the notion, I will admit based on the descriptions that these guys actually did their research.

Patriot, inspired by Captain America, pays homage to the "confident, stand-up-to-bullies average Joe" in every man, with "hints of green lime and white pepper, and finishes of dry oak, sandalwood and tequila."

Okay, this one doesn't knock my socks off, though the tequila finish kind of caught me off guard.

Mark VII smells like mandarin and jasmine with light patchouli, reads a company release, for an Iron Man-like "I don't play well with others" confidence.

Okay, I almost laughed out loud when I read that the principle odour in Iron Man's fragrance is mandarin.  While at first I thought this was just really ironic, as I kept reading I get the impression these guys actually did their homework.

There is also a "Russian spy/trained assassin" perfume, called Black Widow; a Nick Fury-inspired scent, called Infinity; and a "dangerous-sexy" unisex scent based on the villain Loki, the bad brother of Thor.

Okay, giving Iron Man a scent of mandarin as opposed to WD40 could have been a one-off, but the fact that they named the Nicky Fury scent "Infinity" really leads me to believe these guys put some thought into these.  For anyone reading this unaware, comic book-Nick Fury owes his longevity to a little chemical cocktail called the Infinity Formula.

I skipped posting the details of Thor and the Hulk because nothing really struck me there, you can read them at the full article if you wish (  Well done JADS, well done.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Reading GIT Corp on Android

I've posted before about reading comics on a tablet, and how the Asus EEE Pad is perfect for digital comics. The aspect ratio is pretty much perfect for a comic book page, they don't fit as nicely on an iPad's screen.

I've also made mention of the GIT Corp DVD collections that Marvel put out some years ago. Before Marvel created their online subscripton service, they were licensing their books to GIT Corp to create DVD's containing entire runs of books like Amazing Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Hulk, etc, stretching from their inceptions in the 60's until a cut-off in the early to mid 2000's (when the discs came out). At the time they were a tremendous deal, between $40 and $60 for 40 years of comics. Some of the collections are hard to find now and as a result very expensive, but I have collected almost all of them.

I never cared for reading comics on my desktop computer, so I didn't read the GIT Corp collections as much as I wanted to. When I got my tablet, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to start reading them more. The question was, what app would be best to read them on?

The books are PDFs, and there are a number of PDF viewers available in the Android market. The trick is, most of these readers display a MARVEL watermark on the books, which can be read through but is annoying.

After some trial and error I finally found an app, for free no less, called Perfect Viewer, that lets me view my GIT Corp comics without the Marvel watermark.

GIT Corp comics are a little different than current digital comics; the GIT Corp comics are all 2-page spreads (think of a comic book opened up and laid flat on a scanner...since that's what they are!), meaning that they read a little bit small even when the tablet is horizontal. However, Perfect Viewer will let you invert the comics and then zoom in so you can view one (comic) page at a time, you just need to swipe across. This lets you read the GIT Corp comics like current digital comics, very easy to read!

You'll need to download the PDF plugin for Perfect Viewer, but it's also free so that's no big deal. For all my fellow Androids out there, here is a link to the Android Market where you can download the viewer!