Thursday, January 20, 2011

Welcome To......The Future!

As if on cue, this gem of a paragraph about digital comics from Mark Millar:

"My point last week was that we're always told digital cuts out all the middle men between creator and reader, but as I illustrated by detailing the percentages we're in exactly the same situation as we are with print and I still have no idea what my books sold as downloads. I read online that I had 8 out of the top 10 downloaded comics for the year, but I still don't know what the total numbers were. All I know is that my combined income for having the top ten downloads of 2010 is projected to be less I got for one issue of Superman Adventures twelve years ago (and that wasn't very much money at all)."

A couple of really interesting things happening in that paragraph.  He's talking there about Comixology, which has developed into the place to buy digital books. Comixology's Top 10 biggest downloads were indeed dominated by Millar's Wanted and Kick-Ass.

He's telling us that he had eight out of Comixology's top ten books for 2010, and that said downloads combined paid him less than one comic's wages from the late 1990s. 

And THIS is the future?

And yes, I do get that the scenario isn't perfect.  The concept hasn't saturated into everybody's mind yet.  We don't have the perfect app or the perfect device yet, and these Millar books aren't surrounded by every last single comprehensive comic book title.  It's not ideal.

But at the same time, it's what we've been begging for all our lives, isn't it?  This isn't some black sheep New Coke launch or Crystal Pepsi debacle being tested or forced down anybody's throats.  They're giving us what we apparently can't live without!  The prevailing wisdom across all stratospheres of the comics kingdom for years has been that nobody wants monthly pamphlets.  Digital is what everybody wants, except for five dinosaurs who should still be able have a trade paperback because we feel pity for their poor dinosaur ways.  So cute, the paper dinosaurs.  We'll let them have some books while we bask in our cyber awesomeness.

Except, everybody keeps saying that, but absolutely nobody behaves that way.  I don't know anybody paying for digital books, and you don't either.  Mark Millar doesn't know anybody buying digital books, because he has the all the "hot" ones, and they haven't paid squat.  I don't know why he'd lie about that.

This is a really curious future, is all I'm saying.  It's a future with no real people or any actual money in it.  You'll pardon my prehistoric yet sardonic grin about the sublime awesomeness of The Future.

- Ryanosaurus Rex


Drew said...

Stop saying that! Just kidding. It is really not fair to compare digital to print. Digital seems superior in every way except for price and availability. I can still get most print comics cheaper than digitally and there is still very little day and date digital.

But seriously, I don't buy CDs, anymore. I only get the newspaper because my wife wants the ads. I buy most of my books digitally, and if there is a book I want to read that isn't available digitally I buy a different book that is.

Chronic Insomnia said...

Yeah, Drew, I know....I'm starting to annoy myself with all of the bluster, frankly. I'm just not happy unless I'm unhappy about something, I guess. Lucky for me I was born to love comics, so there's plenty to bitch about! I'm glad you're enjoying your digital comics, and I'm extra glad that you're buying them. I don't dislike digital comics, especially now that I don't fear them. The only thing that rankles is me the incessant pounding and the certainty of the pro-digital rhetoric. Maybe that camp should wait until they have even ONE THING to hang their hat on before crowning themselves? That's all I ask, really. But right now, I'm actually more upset about Spectacular Spider-Man 1,000 and Marvel's childish and transparent attempt to "one-up" Action Comics than anything else. So I'll be moving on to other gripes soon, have no fear!

Web Wreckage said...

There was an interesting article on BLEEDING COOL a couple of days ago about the high, exorbitant rates that Marvel is rumored to be asking for digital distribution rights to vendors - coupled with an inverse lack of choice or flexibility in letting vendors choose what product they would get to sell. The article's comments section devolved somewhat into 'digital comics are the future so you must accept it', but there were some interesting points made about the opportunities it might present smaller publishers (and even DC if they learn from Marvels possible pricing mistakes).

Here is the link: