Ramblings part 3: comics, more specifically digital comics and Marvel Unlimited…

So, having now written a couple of these pieces, it seems likely that future posts will be on one of a few topics: writing and self-publishing, digital media, politics or another of my passions, comics. This week I’m discussing digital comics. Right, first things first, I love comics. I think they are a wonderful medium in which to tell stories that could not be told as well any other way, and I read and own a large number of graphic novels, my preferred way to purchase them. I adore big, beautiful hardcover’s that I can collect and store in a bookcase, alongside my other books but that is not the point of this week’s blog post. As with previous posts exploring books published via digital means, I want to talk about digital comics.

Now, until recently I didn’t read comics electronically, I only ever read physical copies. I went through a period, many years ago now, where I bought single issues, or floppies as they are known, and I thoroughly enjoyed my weekly sojourn to my local comic store. Over time I gradually built a small collection of these and I also bought the collected trades so I was actually double-dipping on the series that I loved. When my wife and I moved to Canada, money being tight, I stopped buying singles and only selectively bought trades and only the stuff that I really loved: Locke and Key, Astro City, Mind Mgmt, Saga, that sort of thing. Mostly I borrowed what I wanted to read from my excellent local library.

So I would buy or (mostly) borrow trade paper backs, or graphic novels as they are also known, and then tear through them at an astonishing rate. Seriously. My library allowed me to request up to ten items a month and every month I would request the ten graphic novels that I most wanted to read, everything from Batman to Fables, and Hellboy to Criminal and all that falls in between. In this way I read an astonishing number of trades, my guess being that the number was in the region of 500 a year. But I think that is likely a conservative estimate and that, between rereads and the ones I actually bought myself, I probably read much more than that. As I said, I love comics!

Then my wife and I moved and I lost access to that wonderful library and became reliant on a much smaller and less well-stocked local library and on my own, also relatively small, collection of trades. Then we bought a well-known brand of tablet and I decided to give Marvel Unlimited a try and, in their efforts to encourage me to purchase a subscription, I ended up getting three months worth of access for the price of one. This was a bargain too good to pass up and over time I realised that this is a phenomenal way to read comics. I was already something of a fan of Marvel’s output so this was not a difficult thing for me to enjoy but it’s even better than I hoped. In the past few years DC has lost my interest with the relentless negativity of almost everything in the New 52 stable and I think Image is doing a stellar job of supporting creator-owned projects, many of which I purchase in trade form. You can also purchase these issues through services like Comixology but none of these publishers offer a service like Marvel Unlimited.

And I’m so glad I gave it a try for I have to say that I love it! In order to get the value from the service that I wanted I imposed a rule on myself that I should try to read at least 2 issues every day. And what I found is that this works for me. I keep up to date with current series and I have time to explore some things that are new to me. I have access to an incredible back catalogue of issues and runs and every Monday they update their services with new releases. So, in a way, I have gone back to reading singles, which I find interesting. I still read trades that I own or borrow but for me one of the really great parts of the subscription, besides allowing me to read comics that I probably would not have bothered with before, was that I could read story arcs that were either out of print or would require a substantial hunt to find: series like Peter David’s entire X-Factor run, or Paul Cornell’s Captain Britain.

I have to say that if you are interested in comics or Marvel Unlimited, then you should give it a go. In my opinion it’s worth the cost and Marvel frequently offer cheap trial period so you can almost try it for free. The other major comic book companies; DC, Image, Dark Horse, IDW; should follow Marvel’s lead and, were they to do so, they would have a customer in me. But then I would have quite a severe time-management problem so maybe it’s not a great idea. Actually, I hope they do but as ever, we shall see.

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world which is out now at all electronic retailers’! Also, follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!



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