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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wha?! A Digital Comics Model That Isn't Terrible?!

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM

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  • Private Eye #1, art by Marcos Martin

Everything about the following two paragraphs is fantastic. Because (A) Hey, cool, new work from Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, the same team behind the excellent miniseries Doctor Strange: The Oath! And (B) Hey, cool, someone found a non-terrible way to sell digital comics!

Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin may have officially set a record for quickest "teaser to release date" turnover. While many publishers tease books months before they appear, the creators have released theirs only hours after sending out their first batch of project hints.

As of today, readers can download the first issue of Vaughan and Martin's The Private Eye at PanelSyndicate.com. The comic is a serial story colored by Munsta Vicente and released at a Radiohead-esque "name your price" rate for a wide range of DRM-free digital formats including CBR, CBZ and PDF. (Via.)

Right now there are two main ways I read comics digitally: Via the Comixology app, which is slick and easy and boasts comics from most major publishers, but has drawbacks—namely, obnoxious DRM and prices that usually match what one is expected to pay for a hard copy of the comic. I also read some stuff using Dark Horse Comics' app, which functions much the same way as Comixology's, except—for me at least—it's a lot slower and crashes a lot more. Wheee! In either case, you're stuck reading the comics you buy inside the app, you can't lend them to friends, you can't save them to a hard drive, and you've gotta pay whatever publishers decide to charge you. (Which, more often than not, is now a fairly ridiculous $4 per 22- or 20-page issue.) It should be noted that, like most DRM-shackled digital purchases, these drawbacks only affect those who legally buy things—if you illegally download comics, you won't have to deal with this annoying shit.

So: Not only does The Private Eye sound great—it's a "a detective story set in 2076" from two excellent creators—but Panel Syndicate's pay-what-you-will and read-it-how-you-want freedoms both respect the customer and provide a far easier reading experience than found elsewhere. This is something worth supporting. The further away we can get from the onerous, overpriced models that currently define digital comics, the better; the fact we can do so with work from the likes of Vaughan and Martin seals the deal. I just gave 'em $2.99. And, just like I do when I buy things from Radiohead and Louis CK, I felt good about it.

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