Digital ComicsAlliance 06/12/11: Bared Fangs and Bare Bums
Welcome to Digital ComicsAlliance, your headquarters for digital comics news and recommendations. This time around, we've got the big sales so you can get good books cheap and our recommendations for three comics you should be downloading. Throw on a bib, because this week's recommendations are bloody.
1. Name: Butcher Baker
Creative Team: Joe Casey (story), Mike Huddleston (art), Rus Wooton (letters), Sonia Harris (graphic design)
Platform: ComiXology (iOS, Web, Android)
Price: $1.99 each (first issue is free)
Why: Sometimes, you've got to rock out with your... well, you know. Butcher Baker is the story of a superhero who does one last favor for the government in his twilight years; it's ugly, baby, a slice of hardcore triple-x Americana, and it rules. The key word is "gratuitous." The nudity, violence, cursing, and action can all be described as grindhouse slash roadhouse. And it's wonderful. Huddleston's art is like nothing else on the stands, due to its high energy and great colors. This comic is something that takes the past and twists it into a new shape, resulting in something familiar and very entertaining.
Creative Team: Kathryn Immonen (story), Phil Noto (pencils), VC's Clayton Cowles (letters)
Platform: Marvel App/ComiXology (iOS)
Price: $1.99 each
Format: Four issues
Why: Now this is how you make lemonade out of lemons. X-Men: Curse of the Mutants was, the occasional issue with great art aside, largely execrable. Poorly written, poorly executed, and full of bad ideas. Making Jubilee into a vampire is the sort of thing that makes you wrinkle your eyebrow, but Immonen and Noto redeemed that idea in this four issue miniseries. It goes from angry to sad to triumphant, and by the end of it? You're totally okay with everyone's favorite Wolverine sidekick sucking blood. Immonen's script is just as funny and poignant as the rest of her work, and Phil Noto? The man's a legend, the type of artist that can get me to buy books with premises I hate. So you've got believable action, some pretty solid plotting, and plenty of humor all in one package. Put aside your dislike for Curse of the Mutants and get on board the Immonen/Noto train. There's nothing to regret here.
3. Name: American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest
Creative Team: Scott Snyder (story), Sean Murphy (art), Dave Stewart (color art), Pat Brosseau (letters)
Platform: ComiXology (iOS, Web, Android)
Format: 1 issue (of 5)
Why: Sean Murphy is a monster artist. Seriously: he's too talented. He might even be too talented for most of his collaborators. His prior work for Vertigo, Hellblazer: City of Demons with Si Spencer and Joe the Barbarian with Grant Morrison
, were uneven in writing but explosive in art. Murphy carried both writers on those stories, but it seems like he's finally got a series that he can really sink his teeth into. Murphy's a guy who can turn a conversation into something special, but there's plenty of violence here, too. Murphy's hand-lettered sfx, beautiful layouts, and great use of body language all show that he's a guy you need to pay attention to now, before everyone else gets on the bandwagon. Snyder's script is good--which is what I expected considering the rest of American Vampire--but Murphy is incredible.
-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.
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)
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.