The Stochastic Game

Ramblings of General Geekery

Posts tagged with comics

Fanexpo Vancouver 2015

This week-end in Vancouver was FanExpo, with the shopping frenzy, celebrity line-ups, cosplay contests, and friendly comic-book sketching that you’ve come to expect from such conventions, albeit at a smaller scale for our relatively young Vancouver edition.

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Here’s my artist-commission-focused loot this year:

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Nadia (from Kukuburi) by Ramon Perez, Conan by Cary Nord, and Iron Fist by Kaare Andrews. And a nice Thundercats t-shirt because I always need a new t-shirt.

After the jump you can see some cosplay pictures I took, although you can probably see better ones elsewhere on the internet.

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DRM-free backup on Comixology

Me, a few months ago after the “scandal” of Comixology removing the ability to buy comics directly from inside their iOS app:

I would hope ComiXology manages to revert the change, but frankly I’d rather put my hopes in more DRM-free comics available directly from the creators and publishers instead.

Well my hopes have been answered in a way: Comixology announced last week that you would be able to download DRM-free versions of your Comixology books for publishers who are OK with that:

The first wave of participating publishers making their books available as DRM-free backups include Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. In addition, creators and publishers that are self-publishing through comiXology Submit are now able to choose to make their books available with a DRM-free backup.

No surprises here about the publishers who are indeed “OK with that”, since they’re the ones who were already offering DRM-free comics on their own website… but those are excellent news. I can’t stress enough how huge this is.

I’m not sure whose idea it was – whether publishers like Image pressured Comixology to do this, or whether Comixology came to this logical conclusion on their own – but I’m very happy either way. As I said before, I had completely stopped buying Image comics from Comixology, preferring instead their own DRM-free website… but that website was slow as hell and barely usable. Ideally I’d rather give 100% of my money to Image, instead of – probably – 70% through Comixology, but the usability is night and day between the two, and uploading independently acquired files to an iPad is still a huge pain in the ass1.

“For those out there who have not joined the comic reading community because of DRM – you have no excuse now,” said co-founder and Director of ComiXology Submit John D. Roberts

Indeed.

The only problem I’ve found so far is that those backups are extremely bare: just a ZIP file with the pages as JPEG images. They’re the “retina” hi-res versions, so that’s good, but the archive is missing any kind of metadata. The only way to know what it is, short of having a human open it and read the cover, is to parse the file name.


  1. Something I’m hopping will be greatly improved in iOS8. 


ComiXology Scandal

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have missed the news that ComiXology released a new version of their mobile app that drastically changes how comics are purchased. It was reported on technology, gadget, Apple-related, and of course comicbook-related websites. It was even discussed heavily on RPG forums.

A summary of the situation is that:

  • The iPad/iPhone app doesn’t have in-app purchases anymore – you’re forced to buy directly from the web by switching to Safari.
  • The Android app still has in-app purchases, but as I understand it they don’t go through Google Play anymore and, instead, directly hit ComiXology’s servers.

Of course, the internet being what it is, a lot of people are pissed off and are voicing their rage on social networks. I’m not happy with the change either but I’m going to try and articulate my more moderate opinion in a few points here.

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Image Comics going DRM-free

Image Comics is now selling DRM free digital comics on their website.

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This is huge. Image Comics is the third biggest comics publisher in the U.S. after DC and Marvel. It “owns” famous titles like Spawn or The Walking Dead, and other very good series like Fatale, Invincible, Saga, or Morning Glories (I say “owns” with quotes because the whole concept of Image Comics is to publish creator owned comics, so those titles are actually owned by their respective authors).

With Comic-Con only a couple weeks away, they’re probably hoping (and I’m hoping too) that DRM free digital comics will be a hot topic of discussion, with them at the top. I mean, look at what Image Comics’ Eric Stephenson has to say about it:

My stance on piracy is that piracy is bad for bad entertainment. There’s a pretty strong correlation with things that suck not being greatly pirated, while things that are successful have a higher piracy rate. If you put out a good comic book, even if somebody does download it illegally, if they enjoy it then the likelihood of them purchasing the book is pretty high. Obviously we don’t want everybody giving a copy to a hundred friends, but this argument has been around since home taping was supposedly killing music back in the ’70s, and that didn’t happen. And I don’t think it’s happening now.

This is quite an enlightened view on piracy for someone in his position. My hat’s off to you, sir.

Now does that mean Comixology‘s in trouble? Not quite yet, no:

  • First, Image Comics will still sell their issues through them – they’re just adding the option to buy directly from them for people who are, like me, quite keen on actually owning the stuff they buy.

  • Second, as far as I can tell, there’s no back catalog available yet, so you can only buy the new issues coming out now.

  • Third, there’s quite a difference between tapping a button in the Comixology app to buy and read a comic, and buying a comic on a website, downloading the file, transfering the file to your reader app, etc. One takes 2 seconds, the other 2 minutes (if you count storing a copy on your file server). Most people go (erroneously) for the faster and more convenient solution.

  • Fourth, I noticed that some issues are more expensive on the Image Comics website compared to Comixology.

But I’m cautiously optimistic. Hopefully, Image Comics will want to invest a bit in making their own sales portal better, so that they can get the whole price of an issue for themselves (I can only imagine what’s left from an iPad sale once Apple and Comixology have taken their cut…).

I’m crossing my fingers for Dark Horse to start removing DRM in a few months. Unlike DC and Marvel, they’re independantly owned, and have their own online store, so that puts them in the best position to follow suit. They may not be able to do it for their whole catalog (for example, licensed IPs like Star Wars, Buffy or Avatar may have constraints attached), but they could probably do it for titles like Hellboy and B.P.R.D, assuming Mike Mignola is on board with DRM-free comics. One can only hope…


Tough Time for Honest Comics Readers

JManga, a digital manga service created less than 2 years ago by 39 of the biggest publishers in Japan, is shutting down in a couple months. Most cloud services related fears became a reality when it was clear no refund or backups would be offered. Check out their “Urgent Message” for more details, but believe me when I say it can’t get any worse:

It is not possible to download manga from My Page. All digital manga content will no longer be viewable after May 30th 2013 at 11:59pm (US Pacific Time)

Everybody then wondered what would happen if ComiXology went down. And funnily enough, just the day before, ComiXology had experienced a massive blackout which left people unable to read any issues they didn’t have in their cache.

Rich Jonston from Bleeding Cool concludes:

This is the moment when the real winners are comic stores… and pirates.

As I said before, and as many others said before me: own your data. Cloud services are fine by me as long as there’s a way to easily backup my stuff on my file server, thank you very much.