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December 7, 2012


Assembled, Zipped, Transferred And Downloaded: News From Digital

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By Tom Spurgeon

* so Richard Thompson's Richard's Poor Almanac is now up and running at the GoComics.com site. If there's anything that will tide us over at Richard recovers enough to start into what will surely be his next grand thing, it's a frequent re-running of some of that great and little-seen material. Please join me in bookmarking or otherwise subscribing.

image* two digital comics efforts with a major PR push did some of that pushing this week: the new Dandy; a "tablet magazine" called Symbolia that's featuring comics-related journalism. This was an inauspicious week to launch anything targeted for one device, if that's what "tablet magazine" means, although I suspect that even if it's meant for one device over another it can be used by several. I'm certainly not on a tablet, and I got to look at the first issue made available at the site. As for that first issue, I'm always interested in what Sarah Glidden and Susie Cagle are up to, and I thought Glidden's work in particular was pretty strong. None of the rest of it really jumped out at me on a first read, certainly not to match the hype offered on its behalf. It's difficult to find the time for a more thorough reading during the holiday months -- December is an odd time for a publication launch for that reason -- but I'm going to keep on paying attention to it and I hope you will, too. I'm encouraged that the pay model seems to stress paying the artists for their work right from the start.

* as for the Dandy stuff, not having anything to say in the previous graph means I don't have a lot to say -- again, I'm even just sort of taking it on faith that this is a new launch as opposed to an old one that found critical mass on my twitter feed. I wish them luck, although at this point I might argue the news part of something like this is a successful digital launch, not just a digital launch with the usual lip service paid to how something like this could potentially do if certain trends or whatever continue. That seems to me a 2004 narrative.

* there is so much material out there it's hardly even funny.

* here's another one: Styx Taxi.

* here's a story I've been all but close to punting on, that I want to make sure I get up on the site in some form before year's end: some hassles between how digital material gets released and how the supposed same-day print material is going to be available in comics shops and even bookstores. That's sort of fascinating on a bunch of different levels, not all of them worthy of the reaction I've seen so far from certain corners, which is a sort of clenched-teeth fury at the mainstream publishers that may end up releasing material like this. One thing that interests me is related to that, in that the fact that digital availability didn't lead to a massive closure of comics shops is bound to come with a bit of relief that may manifest itself in playing slightly faster and looser with certain expectation than otherwise might have been the case. In other words, we may be looking at a philosophy of "Well, digital didn't kill the comics shop; digital a bit earlier than the comics shop probably won't kill it either." This is frustrating only in that most of what the mainstream comics companies have done right in the last quarter-century with their Direct Market opportunities comes when they seek to maximize its effects rather than get away with as much as they can in terms of moving business elsewhere.

* as if there wasn't already a significant amount of teasing the end of the world out there, Dylan Horrocks actually updated his Sam Zabel And The Magic Pen serial.

* finally, Ben Towle's Oyster War is yet another comic to join the GoComics effort. I'm not sure I all the way understand what's going on over there, but I approve.

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