Home Comic Books The Digital Revolution: Digital vs. Real Comics

The Digital Revolution: Digital vs. Real Comics


By Julio Dominguez

The Digital Revolution: Digital vs. Real Comics

comic booksMore and more people are getting their comics online or on tablet devices instead of down at the local comic shop. While nobody is arguing that digital and print comics offer two completely different experiences, one question remains: Is one type of comic book better than the other? The answer will likely depend heavily on your own personal preferences and just why you started collecting comics in the first place.


If your favorite part of the comic book experience is the stories artwork contained on each page, digital comic books offer a fantastic experience that is difficult to replicate. You no longer have to call all over town trying to find those rare issues of “X-Men” or take to eBay and pay exorbitant prices for an unbroken run of Grant Morrison’s “Doom Patrol.” Now you can load up the Comixology app on your tablet device and download the issues in just a couple of seconds. Marvel has also made the majority of their back catalog available online through Marvel.com.

Wireless Internet for tablets makes the process of getting your favorite comics as easy as tapping a few buttons, especially if you’ve got a fast Wi-Fi connection at home or are traveling with a 4G connection on a device like an Apple iPad.

You also don’t have to wait for your favorite comic store to open to check out the latest issues each week. Comics released “day in date,” meaning that both versions of an issue become available at the same time, become available shortly after midnight each Wednesday through a variety of different services.

Comics as Collectibles

If you’re a fan of the “collecting” part of being a comic book aficionado, there really is nothing quite like the print experience. Though digital comics are readily available, they also can’t be resold. If the value of a particular book skyrockets due to a movie announcement, for example, it won’t matter because your digital copy is still essentially worthless.

The romantic idea of the “hunt” is also gone. While it can be convenient to tap a few buttons on an iPad and download early issues of Jeff Smith’s “Bone” or Robert Kirkman’s “The Walking Dead” right to your device, it lacks the sense of accomplishment that goes along with searching and searching until you find that holy grail at a shop or during a convention.

Transportation and Storage

Though expensive “Omnibus” editions have increased in popularity in recent years, digital comics are still by far the best way to transport your collection and enjoy comics on the go. You don’t have to carry a long box filled with dozens of issues or heavy soft cover collections with you on your trip. Tablet devices and even laptop computers can carry thousands upon thousands of issues at a time. If you can’t decide whether you want to read the complete run of “Sandman” or “Y: The Last Man” while on vacation, you can easily take both if your collection is digital. With a print collection, you’d either have to carry (and protect) dozens of issues during transportation or lug heavy hardback collections around with you wherever you go.

Digital comics are undoubtedly the way of the future, but they’re only a part of it. Print comics offer an experience that digital comics just can’t match. Digital issues, however, also have benefits that can’t be matched by the print experience. Instead of turning the comics industry into a “this one or that one” decision, it is important to realize that for the best possible experience you can embrace both at the same time. DC Comics, Marvel Comics and many other publishers offer digital copy codes in their new weekly books, similar to the digital copies found in Blu-ray discs for movies. For about $1 more, you can have both a print and a digital copy. You can have the print copy to cherish, catalog and maybe even sell if the value increases and still enjoy all of the benefits that digital copies naturally have.

The way of the future, at least as far as comic books are concerned, is realizing that digital and print don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Creative Commons image by Sam Howitz


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Brian Pate
Brian is the owner and founder of Convention Scene.