A digital age of comics may be upon us. How do you feel, will you embrace it? When I went to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance tonight, I got in with something called a mobile ticket. I paid electronically to have a bar code sent to my cellular phone. When I arrived at the theater, I presented the text message to them and they scanned the lines. Neat trick, you like? As our use of technology continues to evolve, it becomes more a part of our everyday lives. The so called “Digital Age” has already begun to make its impact on our photography, music, novels and our movies. As this revolution sweeps over the land, it’s finally becoming more prevalent in the world of comic books.
Exactly how prevalent is hard to determine, as digital publishers are not often very forthcoming with their sales figures. Recent estimates put last year’s digital totals around $25 million. Whatever the exact number was (or how much growth it represented), it obviously approached one high enough to persuade DC to go same day digital. You can now buy your digital copy of a comic book online the same day the material is released in stores! This also seems to make the statement that the electronic version is not just an add-on or an extra, it’s every bit as legitimate as the one printed on paper. Some have gone as far as to release titles exclusively via digital formats.
If the numbers are right and the trend continues, digital sales could account for 10 % or more of the total market in 2012. Does this mean we should start a widespread panic over the death of the printed page? No, but it does raise some very serious questions about the future of the hobby though. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I do think we may be living in a very important era in comics. We’re at a crossroads where decisions will be made that can set us on either one course, or another. The companies may own the rights to the characters, and the general public may hold the heroes closer to their hearts as they become more mainstream, but I still think of comic books as “our” thing, if you know what I mean. So this is our decision to make.
In a capitalist society, we vote with our wallets- or wherever else you may keep your money! The “Digital Age” gives us a myriad of ways to express ourselves as well. We vote with our comments on websites and forums. We vote with our emails to the people in charge, with our blogs and our tweets. Fan campaigns can be heard, and as a fan and a customer your voice deserves to be heard. You also owe it to them and to yourself to make your opinion an informed one.
If you already feel against it, maybe you should give it a shot! Comixology is making that easier with their ongoing President’s Day sale on Marvel Icon titles that runs through Monday night. If you already want to rush into it, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to slow down and try to visualize some of the alternate futures a shift like this could bring about. If you’re sitting on the sidelines, get off the bench! Who knows, your idea or opinion on the subject could be the one that optimizes things for everyone. Don’t let someone else weigh all the pros and cons, get out there and YOU be the judge!