No Strings Attached With Ultron And Black Widow Comic book-inspired movies have been all the rage since "Iron Man" came out in 2008, and Marvel has quickly become one of the top studios in the industry. As the popularity of these franchises has increased, some fans have started to turn back to the comic books these characters were based on, mainly to learn more about their favorite characters or to guess what direction the Marvel Cinematic Universe is heading.

But comic books are still a niche area, and dedicated comic book shops are becoming hard to find and tend to cater to a more hardcore audience. However, publishers have realized the advantages of distributing their comic books in a digital format. With touch and high-resolution screens saturating the market, now is a great time to start getting into the digital comic book realm.

Batman on The Bat Phone
Special and Interactive Content

Special and interactive content is one area a physical book can't compete, no matter how nice it is to feel and hold. Apps interact with the user in a different way than a traditional comic book. For example, depending on the dialogue style, it can be confusing which direction to read the panels. Digital comics solve this problem by giving visual clues, such as a slight shake in the next panel or speech bubbles appearing in the correct order. Being able to buy the next issue, or all the back issues of a particular story arc, is also extremely appealing for those who like to go all-in on their hobbies.

Subscriptions and the Digital Market

With digital delivery, there isn't the need to go into a physical store any more. Readers can have the latest edition delivered straight to them more quickly than ever to find out what their favorite superhero is going to face next.

Marvel offers a Netflix-like subscription service that gives users access to its entire library, which boasts more than 17,000 comics for only $9.99 per month. For readers that want a wider breadth of publishers, Comixology provides comics from Marvel, DC, and many smaller independent publishers, such as Dark Horse and Oni Press.

The prices of individual issues are competitive with physical copies. Digital comics also have the advantage of being able to add deals to back issues or related content, making them a better deal in the long term than physical copies.

Marvel Digital Phone

The technology of modern smartphone and tablet screens enable writers and illustrators to do things that aren't possible in print. New technology like the iPhone 6s' 3D Touch allows for innovation and creativity, such as motion comics that are a combination of illustration and animation that enable characters to move and speak. Long presses also could bring up biographies and background information on a character, or a list of other issues they have appeared in. Even seemingly little things like increasing the size of the dialogue text can make reading digital comics easier and more enjoyable for older or younger users who need a little help understanding what is happening within the story.

Just like books, physical comics probably aren't going anywhere. There will always be a market of users who want to hold a physical object in their hands. But with the ease of digital delivery and the ubiquitous nature of screens in modern society, there isn't a reason not to get into digital comics -- if only so fans don't need a flashlight to read them in bed.
COMICS IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL MEDIA COMICS IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL MEDIA Reviewed by David Andrews on January 18, 2016 Rating: 5
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