When I first heard DC had setup their own digital comics imprint I had my own, wildly inaccurate picture of what that meant. I imagined DC comics being distributed digitally for download or viewing online. The truth is somewhat less revolutionary.
The truth is that comics are already free for download if you’re willing to… uh… not pay for them. I would not have read Miracleman if this were not the case. I prefer my comics in a physical form, however, which is why I have almost no money but for some reason I cannot fathom, I own the first volume of the terrible Ultimate Galactus trilogy (anyone want to buy it? It’s awesome. Really).
If anyone at DC or Marvel had any balls, they’d be setting up an iTunes-style download service for their comics. Imagine: the Big Two opening up their entire archives for download, at a dollar an issue. Wanna read some ultra rare golden age comic from 1940-something? A dollar. Wanna peruse some short-lived but fondly remembered mini-series from the 70’s? A dollar. That’s the future. The sooner The big two get wise, the better.
I dream of an even more glorious time, when the service I describe above is expanded to offer print-on-demand collections. If the pages themselves are scanned, what’s stopping Time-Warner from buying out some sort of quick-print service like Lulu Press and using it to print collections, as created by the consumer? I want a book that has every Batman/Green Arrow team-up. I do a quick search. I select the issues I want. I click “Collect It!” and select the order I want the issues to be printed in. I pick from a selection of images for front and back cover art. Then I punch in my credit card info and a week later I’m kicking up my heels with an honest-to-god ink-and-paper collection of the very best of the Dark Knight and the Emerald Archer.
I recognise that there are a million-and-one legal and logistical hurdles to this vision being realized, but I think that one day, it will be reality. And that’ll be a good day.