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Digital ComicsAlliance 05/26/11: Gross-out Violence and Stan Lee

Welcome to Digital ComicsAlliance, your headquarters for digital comics news and recommendations. In our weekly post about digital comics, we’re going to give you three important things: the major news, the big sales where you can get good books cheap, and of course, our recommendations for the comics you should be downloading. This week? This week, we’re going to gross you out with some good (but gross) comics.

1. Name: Chew: Taster’s Choice
Creative Team: John Layman (story), Rob Guillory (art)
Platform: ComiXology (iOS, Web, Android)
Price: $1.99 each (first issue is free)
Format: #1-5
Why: John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew is liable to give you food anxiety, if that is in fact a thing that people can get. Tony Chu is a cibopath, meaning that if he eats something, he experiences that thing’s life. He works for the FDA, who are the #1 police organization in the country after bird flu decimated the population, and his job is solving crimes… by eating gross things. Disgusting food, body parts, you know it, and it has probably been in Tony Chu’s mouth. Chu soon finds himself swept up in double crosses, spies, inter-departmental rivalries, and a boss who is determined to make him eat crap (not a metaphor). You need this comic in your life.

2. Name: Moon Knight: The Bottom

Creative Team: Charlie Huston (story), David Finch (pencils), Danny Miki (inks), Frank D’Armata (colors)
Platform: Marvel Comics on Chrome, Marvel Comics app (iOS)
Price: $1.99 each
Format: Six issues
Why: moon knight I wasn’t a Moon Knight fan until Charlie Huston took over the series. While I’m not particularly fond of David Finch’s art, Huston’s fast-paced and mean script set the perfect tone for this series, and nobody writes nervousness like Huston does. He breathed life into a stale character thanks to a take that brought Moon Knight from the bottom back to fighting trim. This Moon Knight is mean, with little time for superhero theatrics… but plenty of time for paying homage to his god. Honorable mention should be given to the Profile, a new character with the most interesting gimmick in ages. Violent, funny, and thrilling: get it.

3. Name: The Last Resort

Creative Team: Jimmy Palmiotti (story), Justin Gray (story), Giancarlo Caracuzzo (art),
Platform: IDW (iOS)
Price: $1.99 each
Format: Five issues
Why: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are a couple of prolific writers, and their stab at a comic rooted in exploitation cinema is… it’s gross. Giancarlo Caracuzzo’s art is cartoony, and thank goodness for that. If he were going for ultra-realism, this book would be disgusting. Well, more disgusting–people still get their faces bitten off, lower jaws chewed off, and a lion mauls a lady partway through. On top of that, you’re looking at some good old fashioned gratuitous sex and nudity, explicit language, and all the other things that made movies great for teenagers in the throes of puberty, pre-internet. This one’s not the type of book you want to show your mom, but if you want a dirty laugh? This is your best bet.

THE NEWS

-DC Comics Is Getting There: Click that link for 82 pages of free comics. The catch: they’re previews of this week’s comics from DC. Is that a catch? This is an interesting move on DC’s part. Each comic has around three pages worth of preview material, and I’ve got to say, the best way to get someone to buy something is to give them a free taste. I do think that DC and ComiXology are making a few simple mistakes here, though. There’s no Guided View on the comics, which is kinda-sorta understandable, but there are no chapter breaks, either. If you want to check out a preview of John Rozum and Frazer Irving’s Xombi, you’ve got to wade through seventy-some pages of other comics.

Breaking these out into separate files would be a better idea, though it may grow unwieldy without proper organization. Finally: good luck buying any of these comics, sucker. You’ll have to go to a store to get them, which seems pretty counter-intuitive when you’re reading all these previews in a digital comics app. I like this concept, though, and would like to see more companies begin doing it, preferably with a big fat button so that I can buy the comic right then and there. Being able to zoom would be great, too.

-Stan’s Got A Brand New Bag: Boom! Studios has unveiled its Stan Lee app, which features his comics and Twitter feed. Development was handled by iVerse. A branded app for Stan Lee makes sense. He’s probably the most popular comics personality out there, so when people who don’t read comics look him up online, they’ll find his comics directly. Smart move.

THE SALES

-ComiXology runs Marvel Mondays sales (wait for it) every Monday. Certain Marvel comics, usually ones from a specific series or united under a theme, are offered for half off. You can check their blog for the current sale on Monday mornings, and sometimes Sunday nights. Once Monday is gone, though, so is the sale. Keep an eye on their blog for other sales, too.

-Dark Horse’s weekend sale this week is for some classic Conan comics. There’s a new movie coming out this year, and it doesn’t take a genius to want to strike while the iron is hot. These old comics have some pretty sweet Barry Windsor-Smith art, so if you’re in the mood for some classic ’70s books, check Dark Horse Digital

THE PLAYERS

There are a few different ways to get digital comics right now. Here’s a selection of the methods, listed by company in alphabetical order, and the formats they support:

Archie Comics
(iOS)
Boom! Studios (iOS [identical to the Boom! offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])
Comics4Kids (iOS [ComiXology for all-ages comics])
ComiXology (iOS, Web, Android)
Dark Horse (iOS, Web)
DC Comics (iOS, Web [identical to the DC offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])
DriveThru Comics (CBZ, PDF, ePUB, and more)
Dynamite Entertainment (iOS,Web, Android [identical to the Dynamite offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])
Graphic.ly (iOS, Web, Android)
IDW Comics (iOS)
Image Comics (iOS [identical to the Image offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])
iVerse’s Comics+ (iOS)
Marvel Comics on Chrome (Web)
Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited (Web)
My Digital Comics (PDF, CBZ, and more)
The Illustrated Section (PDF)
Viz Manga (iOS)


THE BASICS

There are a few things you need to know. You no longer need an iOS device (you know: iPad, iPod, iPhone), but you will need an internet connection, web browser, and, usually, Flash. Generally, you don’t get to actually own your digital comics. You’re paying to read them, and while this has been a fairly smooth process this far, that may rankle for some readers.

Are all these distributors different? Functionally, no, they aren’t that different at all. Most of them allow for panel by panel reading (or a variation thereof) or page-based reading. The main differences are in selection. Frustratingly, certain comics are offered on several services, but released at different times. Marvel alone offers five choices. Most other publishers keep to one distribution method, and if they don’t, they tend to keep their stuff mirrored across the various methods. If you want DC Comics, you’re using ComiXology, for example, but Boom! Studios has comics on both. For Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, you’ll have to pay a subscription fee. It’s essentially Netflix for comics, however, so that may be worth it for you.

Personally, I use a mix of all the services, which is far from an optimal configuration, but one that works well. Poke around and see which one you like the most.

When do digital comics come out? Marvel has a weekly schedule, with an option for viewing the next month’s releases. That’s as close as you’ll get to a release schedule. To see what’s new on ComiXology, subscribe to this RSS feed. IDW generally releases books four weeks after they ship in print. ComiXology updates on Wednesdays, Graphic.ly updates throughout the week, and IDW’s app updates on Tuesdays, with day-and-date books arriving on Wednesday. Dark Horse updates on Wednesdays. This category on iVerse’s Comics+ site lists the updates for the week. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited releases books every Monday.

I’ll update with RSS feeds and landing pages that show new releases as they appear! If you’re a digital comics publisher and you don’t have a feed or page that users can visit… well, please create one. We’d all appreciate it.

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