DIGITAL COMICS AND E-READERS
The following is a pathfinder for finding fundamental and up-to-date information about digital comics and their modes of distribution and access in addition to other helpful aspects of the electronic format and how to best understand their role and context in today's electronic-resource-centred society. It has been designed in consideration of both comics readers and users new to the literary form.
What are digital comics?
Things From Another World: "Digital Comics" provides answers to FAQs about digital comics from prominent distributor and vendor, TFAW, including topics such as "What are digital comics?," "Can I subscribe to digital comic book series?," "Which devices are currently supported by the Dark Horse Digital and ComiXology comics apps?," and more.
Digital Comic News: "What Are Digital Comics?" concisely elucidates the difference between digital comics and webcomics and explains files types as well as supporting hardware.
Wikipedia: "Digital comic" provides an outline of the creation of digital comics and their history, as well as suggestions for further reading, both of the works themselves and further secondary scholarly texts.
How do I read them?
Three major components are required to read digital comics -- the hardware (or e-reader, which must be purchased or otherwise physically obtained), the software (or application/program, often doubling as an online store/distributor, which must be downloaded and installed), and the digital comic file itself (often separate from the app, which is also usually purchased and downloaded).
WikiHow: "How to Read Comic Books On Your Computer" comprehensively outlines the steps required in reading digital comics, including summaries of file types, distributors and vendors, software, and methods of organization.
About.com: "The Top Ways To Read Digital Comic Books" lists a number of methods for viewing digital comics, such as CBR/CBZ files, ComiXology, Apple apps, Android apps, Graphic.ly, Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, PDF files, WOWIO, Longbox Digital Inc., and publisher websites, including requirements, costs, and descriptions of each.
In addition to utilizing software for viewing digital comics on PC, MAC, and various handheld tablets and devices, the following articles provide insights into the functionality of some of the most popular e-readers currently on the market: the Nook, Kindle, and Kobo.
Publishers Weekly: "Digital Comics Offerings Growing for Nook" reviews the functionality and accessibility of the Barnes & Noble e-reader, the applications it supports (such as Graphic.ly and iVerse), comic costs, and the preponderance of various file types on the platform such as EPUB.
Publishers Weekly: "B&N Pulls 100 DC Graphic Novels From Shelves Over Kindle Fire Deal" discusses the digital comics void created (in 2011) by Barnes & Noble filled by the Amazon Kindle products and the company's growing support of the format; it also summarizes the conflict between Amazon and Barnes & Noble and its effect on major comics publisher, DC.
Comic Book Herald: "Monday Morning Comic Rack: Why Iím Using Kobo for Digital Comic Reading" reviews the use of the Indigo Kobo e-reader, noting its versatility as an e-bookstore, its multiple models of hardware, and its compatibility with a free application for iOS and Android devices.
Software often doubles as not only a viewer of digital comic files, but as an online store, a form of social media, and a tool for comic collection organization among other various common features; some of the most popular platforms include ComiXology, Comical, and Graphic.ly.
Open Directory Project: "Comic Book Files" provides an annotated list of common multi-purpose software for the specific use of viewing (among other functions) digital comics, including ComicMaster, ComicRack, Comix, Comical, and Jomic.
Comics Beat: "What Platforms are Selling the Best?" reports on its top 12 digital comics platforms, as of 2011, such as B&N's NookBook Store, ComiXology, Amazon's Kindle Store, DriveThruComics, Graphic.ly, and others.
Which file types are available?
In addition to standard e-book formats, such as EPUB, BBeB, HTML, AZW, and TXT, the following are a number of digital-comic-specific file types.
WikiHow: "Read Comic Books On Your Computer" outlines a number of common digital comic file formats such as PDF, Flash, CBZ, CBR, CBA, CBT, CB7, and ACBF, as well as their digital makeups and required software for viewing.
Wikipedia: "Digial Comic Archive" explains variations of the digital comic archive format such as CB7, CBA, CBR, CBT, CBZ, in addition to image file types such as PNG, JPEG, GIF, BMP, and TIFF; it also outlines a variety of common software used on a variety of common devices.
Publishers Weekly: "How Many File Types Are Too Many?" analyzes the variety of available e-readers, digital comics, software, distributors (like ComiXology, Graphic.ly, iVerse, and Panelfly), and publishers.
Who publishes them?
The majority of mainstream comics publishers as well as independent and exclusively digital publishers. There are also services and applications available for both the distribution and acquisition of self-published works.
Digital Comic News: "Digital Comic Publishers" lists a number of the mainstream, as well as some less prominent, comics publishers, such as DC, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, Top Cow, Ave! Comics, Visionary Comics, and Digital Webbing, with examples of titles for which they are well-known.
What are the most popular titles?
Best selling lists of primarily mainstream titles from online reports, distributors, and publishers.
Comics Alliance: "The Dramatic Data About Who is Buying Digital Comics -- And What They're Buying." states for 2011, among others, The Walking Dead, Kick-Ass, Wanted, Civil War, Grimm Fairy Tales Return to Wonderland, Hack/Slash: The Series, Chew, Hunter Killer, Witchblade, and Sandman.
ComiXology: "Best Selling Digital Comics" lists first, for 2013, The Walking Dead, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman, Batman and Robin, Uncanny Avengers, Justice League of America, Avengers, Thor: God of Thunder, Adventures of Superman, and Green Lantern Corps.
DC Entertainment: "Best Selling Digital Comics" says, for 2013, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Batman, Batman and Robin, Justice League of America, Adventures of Superman, Green Lantern Corps, Constantine, Smallville: Season 11, Superboy, and Suicide Squad.
Marvel: "Best Selling Digital Comics" says, for 2013, Uncanny Avengers, Avengers, Thor: God of Thunder, Uncanny X-Force, Avengers Arena, Wolverine, Ultimate Comics Ultimates, Deadpool, Avenging Spider-man, and Avengers Assemble.
Where do I get them?
Insights in addition to the publishers' websites (such as Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, IDW) themselves.
Kotaku: "A Comic Book Lover's Guide to Going Digital" provides guidance for finding digital comics of various formats from the publishers themselves, online vendors such as Amazon and eBay, among other methods, and also presents a list of advantages of the format, e-reader guidance, and further suggestions for getting the most out of them, like organization.
Digital Comic News: "Where Can I Buy Digital Comics?" lists a number of digital comics distributors (such as ComiXology, Drive-Thru Comics, Ave! Comics, and Graphic.ly), online booksellers (such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indigo), and e-book distributors and sellers (such as Smashwords and BookBaby).
Comic Rack: "eComics" provides a brief listing of online providers of free digital comics -- Digital Comic Museum, Golden Age Comics, Flashback Universe Comics, and Free Online Comic Books.
How are they different from comic books in print?
Insights beyond the obvious advantages of portability, preservation, cost effectiveness, and accessibility.
The Nerd Cave: "Comics: Print Vs. Digital" presents both pros (print: collecting, shop experience, digital codes; digital: cost, availability, avoiding spoilers) and cons (print: travel, space; digital: no backup, cost) for both print and digital comics.
About.com: "Digital VS Print" compares the benefits of print comics (such as collectibility, tangibility, respect, portability, and permanency) with those of digital (like cost, potential readership, instant gratification, change to grow, and control), plus introductory advice for beginner comics readers.
Dharbin!: "Fifteen Thoughts on Digital Comics" is an expression of comic artist Dustin Harbin's thoughts on subjects such as publishing cost comparisons between print and digital, digital rights management and product ownership, and trends among retailers and distributors.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: "The Future of Digital Comics According to SXSW 2013" discusses the advantages (such as multimedia approaches, interactivity, and spatial abundance) and disadvantages (multimedia approaches, layout, and print comics conversion) of digital comics versus their print counterparts.
Venture Beat: "Everything you need to know about getting into digital comic books" explains the process and key elements such as supporting viewing devices, where to purchase comics, pricing and release schedules, as well as conversion of existing print comics.
JimZub.com: "Okay, But What About Digital Comics?" discusses trends in digital comics and their sales, including data visualization of a "digital comic retail financial breakdown on creator-owned titles."
Astor, David. "Should comic creators go digital?" Editor & Publisher November (1998): 26.
Astor analyzes the pros and cons of digital comics, including the use of digital
techniques and hardware in their creation, suggesting that often digital comics lose
a certain element of the comics essence found in print, and the well-debated
subject of product ownership.
Lee, Elizabeth. "Digital Revolution Transforms Comic Books." Voice of America News / FIND
Lee explores the differences in digital comics and its newfound technology-savvy
readership, a new digital comics market and industry, as well as insights from both
creators and retailers.
McCloud, Scott. Reinventing comics: how imagination and technology are revolutionizing an
art form. New York: Paradox Press, c2000.
McCloud explores comics in today's society via creators' rights, the new comics
business model, shifting public perceptions, online delivery, and challenges of the
Ponsard, Christophe and Vincent Fries. "An Accessible Viewer for Digital Comic Books."
Lecture Notes in Computer Science 5105 (2008): 569-577.
Ponsard and Fries discuss issues of accessibility in relation to comics in print and
the benefits of the digital format within this context for users with movement or sight
disabilities or even simply those on the go.