Digital ComicsAlliance: Witchfinder for $0.99, Saint of Killers, and solanin
Welcome to Digital ComicsAlliance, your headquarters for digital comics news and recommendations. This week, comics legend John Severin provides art duties on Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever, which Dark Horse is offering for $0.99 till Wednesday. After that? We've got an intense Western and a nice palette cleanser about twenty-somethings.
1. Name: Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever #1
Creative Team: John Arcudi (writer), Mike Mignola (writer), John Severin (artist), Dave Stewart (colors), Clem Robins (letters)
Platform: Dark Horse Digital (iOS, Web)
Price: $0.99 (from 07/25-07/27, $1.99 thereafter)
Format: One issue
Why: John Severin should be a national treasure. Over the years, he's drawn for Blazing Combat, Hulk, Creepy, Mad, and dozens of other fantastic comics. He turns ninety years old this year, and you know what? He hasn't missed a step. Witchfinder stars Sir Edward Grey, an agent of Her Royal Majesty, as he takes a trip to the Old West and discovers supernatural horror. He's an old hand at horror, though navigating the raw social landscape of the West may be tougher to accomplish. A good story and a great artist is something that's hard to beat.
Creative Team: Garth Ennis (writer), Steve Pugh (artist), Pamela Rambo (colors), Clem Robins (letters)
Platform: ComiXology (iOS, Web, Android)
Price: $1.99 each
Format: Four issues
Why: The Saint of Killers is one of the hardest characters in Preacher. He's a force of nature, to borrow a cliche, and capable of wrecking dudes like a Terminator with anthrax, testosterone, and gunpowder running through its veins. This miniseries, which was just released last week, explains how he went from an unpleasant, ugly bastard of a cowboy to the supernatural monster that we all know and love. Some of the major beats may be a bit familiar--he's got a family that's a symbol of innocence in his life, he's a Civil War vet who maybe went a little too far -- but overall, this is a pretty fun and exceedingly violent tale. It will have more weight if you're reading Preacher, of course, but on its own? This is a very, very solid Western.
Creative Team: Inio Asano (writer/artist)
Platform: Viz (iOS, Web)
Price: $5.99 (until 07/31, $9.99 after)
Format: One volume
Why: Let's break the streak of hairy, barrel-chested men dominating this feature this week and look toward a different type of story: one about real life. If you're in your twenties, or if you just remember them, you probably know what I mean when I refer to the "quarter-life crisis." It's that point where you're out of school and trying to figure out what you should become once you grow up. It's a weird, distressing period of time, one that can easily lead to listlessness and depression.
solanin features Meiko Inoue at the peak of her quarter-life crisis. She quits her job and she has relationship issues, but she gets by with a little help from her friends. This is a really, really good story, and I'm not saying that because I'm in my twenties. Asano's art style is very pleasingly cartoony, particularly when contrasted with his realistic backgrounds, and his writing is top notch. Characters are very easy to relate to, despite being fictional and living in Japan. This isn't a mope-fest, either. It's about learning to enjoy life on your own terms, rather than fitting yourself into a box. Buy it -- you won't regret it.
-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. This week, you can buy Captain America #43-50 and #600 for $0.99 each.
-Dark Horse runs themed sales every weekend. They've run sales on Serenity, The Goon, Conan, and Fray, among others, so you're pretty much sure to find something to like at some point. This week's sale hasn't been announced yet, but stay tuned to the Dark Horse Digital blog.
-VizManga just launched, and in celebration, they're offering 40% off every first volume on their store. The sale runs until 07/31, so act fast.
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 app that syncs to your account on the 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, Nook Color)
IDW Comics (iOS)
Image Comics (iOS [identical to the Image offerings on ComiXology and syncs with your ComiXology account])
iVerse's Comics+ (iOS, Nook Color)
Marvel Comics on Chrome (Web)
Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited (Web)
My Digital Comics (PDF, CBZ, and more)
The Illustrated Section (PDF)
Square Enix Manga (web)
Viz Manga (iOS, web)
Yen Press (web)
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.