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Why I Switched to Digital Comics

This is just one person's story about making an economic decision. I'm sure that sounds riveting, but I hope you'll take something from it. I'm never going to tell you that people buying physical comics are wrong or making a mistake. It's obvious in retrospect that I did this, but you might not agree for yourself. I just hope something here makes you think.

Why I even considered switching

I don't have a large collection - only four shortboxes. I was moving, and tripped on the stairs, twisting my ankle while carrying two of them. While it could have been anything I was holding when I tripped, my monkey brain focused on the comics. When the rational side of my brain took over, I saw that my comic buying habit was getting a little out of control. It was growing faster, and not having a job at the time made me realize I had to rethink my comic buying anyway.

I eventually had to wrestle with a question: do I want the stories, or the comics?

The series of obstacles falling

I like having things too much to be a minimalist, but I've been trying to be functional about what I own. I'll reread Wayward and Saga often, but those comics are the exception. I read most of them once and only see them again when filing another issue away. It takes up a lot of space, and I'd far rather they just take up space on a hard drive.

But then came the economics. Most digital and physical comics cost the same. Digital should be cheaper because they have no need of printing or shipping or retail space. I hung on to a theoretical resale value, but we need to admit that almost nothing has had resale value since the 80s. I can almost justify paying the same for the convenience of not having physical objects, but that's a stretch, and this should be a transitional phase that goes away eventually.

When you look beyond new issues, prices look very different. Comixology usually discounts older issues, but I realized I'd been buying digital comics for a while, just not recognizing it.

I was buying almost every comic bundle I could find (the Humble Indie Bundle, and then some). I also had a Marvel Unlimited subscription, which was getting used a lot, but felt very different for a reason I can't really explain now.

The sticking point that held me for the longest time was having a good tablet to read comics on. The first-generation Nexus 7 is a great tablet for many things, but a cramped comic reader at best. I never liked guided view, so I had to try and make a small screen work until I bought a Surface Pro.

You don't want to spend that much money just for reading comics, but it's a great bonus for something you want to get anyway. I've looked at the tablet side by side with a trade, and I can't tell if the differences I thought I saw were real or not. The only time it falls short is with two page spreads, but those aren't so common that it's a major problem.

Having bought that, it was only a matter of time until the inevitable happened.

What I discovered once I switched

You can't predict everything, and there were positives and negatives to the switch that I didn't expect beforehand.

It's hard to share comics when you have digital copies. I do that just often enough to be a problem, and don't have an answer for what to do. I get a little practical here and buy physical copies for what I want to share with people; when you love a comic enough to want to share it, that little expense is worth it.

There are occasionally too many comics. Take everything stored in my tablet, everything I bought in Comixology, and everything in Marvel Unlimited, and I too often end up with analysis paralysis and end up reading nothing.

I also feel bad not helping comic book shops. It's completely irrational, but the fact that I'm doing nothing to help places that I love doesn't help me feel good. I credit Vault of Midnight in Ann Arbor for why I got so into reading comics every week, and I don't like not helping them, but there's not an easy answer.

Still, the positives win out. Some is a stupid joy at feeling like I live in the future. This screen can become any comic that I want, and do so many other things that it sometimes doesn't feel real.

On a slightly more serious note, this helps me remember what I've read. I tend to forget everything, so my greatest and most pathetic discovery is that I can clip digital comics as I go. I save screenshots to Evernote as I read, so later I can open the note and see everything I thought was interesting about the comic. (Yes, my memory is so bad that the best I can do is avoid having to remember.)

All those aside, I couldn't make this site without digital comics. Even the best and most expansive comic shop wouldn't have everything I write about. No one can order everything, and many have no physical form at all. I can dig deep into whatever corner I want to, discovering comics I never could have elsewhere.

In the end, it lets me find more of the things that I love, which is just a good thing. (And supplement a spotty memory.) I could never go down the comic rabbit hole to this extent without digital comics, so switching to digital was worth it for that alone.

Hold me to this: I finally have no excuse not to read Valiant Comics

Pepe the Frog killed by wrong kind of success

Pepe the Frog killed by wrong kind of success