Friday, January 22, 2010

2000 AD On-The-Go and Digital Comics

I discussed in a previous post that the only reliable way to get copies of new issues of 2000 AD in the USA is through a digital subscription from ClickWheel. Of course, reading digital comics poses a problem: loss of mobility. I wouldn't say loss of portability, because digital comics are actually more portable. A digital comic in CBZ format is 20 MB or less (double that if it's in PDF format). Just think how many comics you could fit on a 16 GB
MicroSD card
.* What I mean is that you lose the mobility of comics in that they aren't like books anymore, they are more like movies; you need a "player". The absolute best way to read digital comics (in my opinion) is on a big computer screen. Widescreen monitors these days are big enough so that you can make the two page comics fill the screen and it can actually be bigger than if you'd held a paper comic over the screen. Add a comfy desk chair and you're good to go. And don't give me that "I don't want to sit in front of the computer for hours and read" business. How many hours do you sit in front of the computer now? Right. Now stop your whining.

So the only big drawback to digital comics is the loss of mobility. Well, I stumbled upon a pretty good solution: iPhone/iPod Touch. There are lots of apps on Apple's App Store for reading digital comics. There is iVerse, PanelFly, and ComiXology, just to name a few. I recommend downloading PanelFly and ComiXology because they're free and they have a good deal of free comics content, like #1 issues so you can see if you want to read the series in print or purchase it to read on your iPod. I just don't like the interface for iVerse, but that's just my opinion. The only real problem with all of these apps--and this is a big problem for me--is that you are buying the comic to view in this program only. Let's say you buy a comic on the ComiXology app and you decide that the art is such that you'd really like to view it on a big screen so that you can take it all in and appreciate it fully. Well, you can't. There is no way to get the comics off your device and onto the computer. That sucks. It's called DRM and it's the same problem that people have with digital music. I'm not going to go into it any more than that, except to say that this lack of freedom with my media prevents me from buying digital comics from these outlets.

However, there is another nice app in the App Store called ComicZeal. ComicZeal is a digital comics viewer for the iPhone/iPod Touch. They do not sell comics. You pay $3.99 for the app (the only app I have ever found useful enough to pay for), and you can download a free piece of software from their website called ComicZeal Sync which is how you put comics onto the device. Comics are sent over your home Wi-Fi network onto your iPod. What comics? That's the awesome part: anything in CBR/CBZ format! There is also support for PDF comics, but I hear it's buggy in Windows. To test the PDF support on my Mac I used Tales of Suspense #39, which was included on my Iron Man DVD. The PDFs on this DVD are watermark protected (a MARVEL watermark appears if you try to print them, but not when viewing them), and I've found that some non-Adobe PDF viewers show the watermark on the screen. So I wanted to see if ComicZeal would show the watermark when I imported the PDF. As you can see in the screen grabs below, the watermark is nowhere to be found. Score! You might not be able to tell from the size of the images, but when zoomed in the panel is perfectly readable on the iPod screen.

By now you might be wondering what this has to do with 2000 AD. Well, if you recall from my previous post, ClickWheel sells their digital copies completely DRM free. So all you have to do is download your 2000 AD in CBZ format, drag it into ComicZeal Sync, and you have 2000 AD on-the-go! It's not exactly one-click, but it's still really easy. I should mention that ClickWheel does offer comics on the iPod. The problem is that not everything is offered on the iPod, and weekly 2000 AD are not.

The purpose of this post is to tell you what's out there and that it works. I really like ComicZeal and it works great! There is a demo video on their site, but I have to say that it works exactly as advertised. No funny stuff. You can read the reviews in the App Store, they are all pretty positive.

There has been a lot of talk in the last few weeks about digital comics. Lots of comic blogs are saying that 2010 might be there year they take off. I don't know. All I know is that I can't buy weekly issues of 2000 AD in print in the USA, so digital is all I've got. Digital comics are cheaper though. That is a plus. I won't even talk about storage. Okay, maybe I will. Actually, I'll let these pictures talk about storage for me.

I think that sums up storage right there.

Don't get me wrong, I will not give up my print comics without a fight. A really nasty, pulling hair and spitting kind of fight. It's not just the DRM issue, but the experience. Home theatres have decreased movie theatre attendance, but lots of people still go to the movies. Going to the movies is an experience. For many comic fans (myself included), going to a comic book shop is part of the experience, as is reading comics in the way we always have: on paper. I don't want to get bogged down in this discussion, so that's all I'm going to say.

While I'm back to pimpin' 2000 AD, I want to mention the Halloween Special. If you want to check out either ClickWheel or 2000 AD for cheap, purchase and download the 2000 AD Halloween Special (it's listed between Progs 1656 & 1657). It's $2.50 for 136 pages of collected Halloween-themed stories. Complete stories.



Come ON!! I shouldn't need to sell it harder than that. It has an Alan Moore story, how's that?

Okay, I'm done. Hope someone finds this helpful. And I hope you all point your browsers at ClickWheel to download that sweet Halloween Special for only $2.50!

*As a side note, the fact that the iPhone/iPod Touch doesn't have a MicroSD slot is a major (although undoubtedly intentional) design flaw.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that we have reached the point where technology has become one with our world, and I think it is safe to say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further advances, the possibility of copying our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I daydream about almost every day.

(Submitted by N3T 2 for R4i Nintendo DS.)