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January 19, 2011

Comic Books and Technology - Bringing Back my Childhood

This post is a personal journey culminating in a wish for the future.

I was a comic book collector for a very long time. I think I started collecting comics when I was in Junior High or High School (can't quite remember). I wasn't particular as far as companies went, other than the fact that they were all superhero comics (though I guess I did read the occasional Archie comic as well).

I collected all through college and through my years in Chicago. I figure it was around 10-15 years of comic book collecting. Sometimes more titles than others, but always a fair number.

And I devoured them.

I did keep them in plastic bags like a collector, but I always read them at least once before putting them away. I would file them away, in alphabetical order, in boxes that were designed to hold comics.

(The long ones, not the short ones)

I read as much as I could. Spider-Man was a favourite (there were four series with him at the time), Daredevil, Avengers, Fantastic Four (among others) from Marvel. Teen Titans, Justice League, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc from DC. As I got older, I read some of the more mature ones like Hellblazer and the pure beauty of Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic.

All read, then lovingly stored away in their boxes. Occasionally to be brought out again, but not that often (didn't want to destroy them in case I ever wanted to sell them!).

When I moved out to Seattle, and then to Vancouver, they couldn't come with me. I didn't have anywhere to put them. So my parents graciously allowed me to store them in their basement. But I kept collecting. I started new boxes in my new home. Which ones I collected changed often, but I was still collecting quite a bit.

Until finally I just looked at everything, the space they were taking up, the space they were taking up at my parents' house, and said "maybe I should get rid of these?" I was still enjoying them, but that enjoyment was slowly being superseded by the part of me that realized that I was running out of space, and the problem would only continue to grow.

So I got rid of them. 3000-4000 comics, sold. I don't remember for how much. The money wasn't important (though it was nice); it was the space and the effort of collecting that had become just too much for me. While they were enjoyable to read, they weren't enjoyable to collect anymore. So I stopped.

And never looked back.

In fact, I didn't really miss them that much.

Until both Marvel and DC came up with their iPhone and iPad apps that would let you read comics on the device, as well as Marvel's "Digital Subscription Service" that allows you to read over 8000 of the comics that they've digitized, all for a monthly subscription fee.

What an idea!! Electronic copies of comics that you have access to at anytime, and no storage!

And I'd be on that faster than a fly on...well, you can probably guess.

Except for two things, one limitation of the app/subscription and one much broader:

1) Where are the new titles?

So far, most of the comics available seem to be old comics and old stories. While that's kind of cool, what I'm interested in is paying a subscription for *new* comics that come out every month. Say print comics right now are $4.95 (I'm not sure what they actually are, but this is just an example). For $2.00/month, you could subscribe to each new issue of a comic (say, Detective Comics if DC was doing this). And it would be $2.00/month for each book, so if you wanted Action Comics as well, it would be $4.00/month. Maybe even a bulk rate if you subscribe to 5 or more titles.

That doesn't appear to be an option right now, though I would welcome being shown differently.

Instead, I see stories from 2005, 2001, 1995, and even reprints of the originals from back in the 60s. Which is definitely cool! Just not what I want.

2) The state of the comics industry

From everything I've heard, the superhero genre has gotten *really* strange, with massive reboots even more massive than the massive ones that were happening when I was collecting. Do any of the stories that I remember even still "exist?" (and by that, I mean in the current continuity, as I know the stories themselves still exist...don't be pedantic). Are they even well-written anymore? I don't know. I guess I could certainly dip my toe in...if they started offering the subscription option I mention above.

But Marvel's "Civil War" saga? From everything I heard about it, it was seriously stupid, though I guess some people might disagree. I certainly can't give an informed opinion about it.

Anybody knowledgeable in the current comics field have any recommendations? Something I can keep an eye out for if it's ever available electronically? Even smaller press, though obviously those are less likely to ever be available electronically.

This is a perfect technological way to bring back my childhood (and earlier adult years), one that would solve all of my storage problems and still allow me to enjoy something I love.

If I loved it anymore. I guess they do say you can never go back.

But it might be worth a try?


  1. I'm sure I've seen sites where they charge you in order to read "new" comicbooks, just don't remember where, seek and you shall find.


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