The World of Digital Comic Books

I was able to go to New York Comic Con this past weekend. While I’m not a huge reader of comic books, a number of people in my life are, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to find out more about the hobby and industry.

First off, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Peter Rios and Bryan Deemer of the Comic Geek Speak podcast for offering me a great amount of insight into the state of the industry and interesting things going on there.

I was also able to speak with Chuck Moore who handles marketing for a new venture called Comics XP. I had heard several people mention this new innovation to me while at the convention, and while the site is still not fully implemented yet, they are have a very intriguing business plan.

The idea behind Comics XP is to serve as a warehouse for independent comic book creators for digital content. Initially, I believed that this was a totally new way of doing business in the industry. Marvel has been doing something like this for a couple of years now and has an offering of over 5,000 of their comics on a subscription basis of $10 a month or $60 for a year.  DC, the other major comic book publisher, offers comparatively very little of their content digitally at this time, and it will be interesting to see how their methods work out for each of them.

Comics XP, though, would serve as both a social networking tool for comics and a store for content. They would also work on a a la carte basis. Comic book creators who aren’t in a position to transition their content to the digital realm, or those who just want to increase its visibility could both use the site. It serves as both a marketing tool and a revenue generator as Comics XP would share revenue with the content creator. Moore envisions it as the “iTunes of Comic Books.”

This is the sort of thing, in my opinion, that this industry needs. As the guys at Comic Geek Speak podcast pointed out to me, while there is a lot to be said about the feel of paper comics, the costs involved in producing them are going to be an increasingly large drain on the industry.  I will be watching this industry to see if it needs to and is able to develop a viable post-print business model.

To get back on point as far as the blog go, the costs of digital comics are drastically different from those of print and some of those savings will certainly be passed along to the consumer as the Marvel site and assurance from Comics XP tell me. As digital content in all areas grows more and more prominent, generating revenue off of this content will become more and more crucial if want more quality content to be generated. With these two pressures pushing the industry, only time will tell what the results will be.

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