Sunday, April 27, 2014

A few words on Comixology...

While I've got several bookshelves at home groaning under the weight of trade collections of old comics like New Gods, New Teen Titans, New Mutants, Uncanny X-Men, Tomb of Dracula, Creepy, Eerie and assorted other old school delights, my primary reading source for vintage comics (and new) these days has been Comixology.  And despite a glitch here or there and the lack of Fantastic Four #50 and the rest of the Nick Cardy/Bob Haney-era Teen Titans, I'm pretty well satisfied with Comixology.

I carry a huge collection of individual issues around with me on my iPhone.  Or, rather, I did until the other day when Comixology retired their old iPhone app in favor of a new one.  I only just downloaded it so I can't say if it's an improvement over the old.  The old one was a little frustrating when I wanted to stop reading one book and switch to another.  Finding the sweet spot on the screen proved difficult and I'd be stuck paging through a comic, back and forth, while puffing out my cheeks or whatever the hell it is I do when I'm mildly annoyed.  But it was worth it to have a collection like that at my fingertips, especially when waiting for a bus or riding a train.

Comixology's at-home reading app has vastly improved.  The newest reading method beats their older one.  When they gave customers the option to beta-test it, I found it more responsive and easier to enjoy because the pages displayed larger.  You can zoom way in on panels and really look at the details.  Of course, since most of these comics came out in the days of cheap printing on newsprint, and they've been subject to some at-times clumsy restorations, this isn't always the best way to experience them.  The guided-view technology is generally well-handled, with panel transitions appearing almost cinematic at times.  Guided-view provides zoom-ins for emphasis and scans full-page panels in ways that seem well-chosen.  I haven't noticed whoever programs that for any particular book screwing much of anything up as far as reading flow goes, and in fact, for some newer books where the panel-to-panel order can be... er... confusing at best, Comixology has managed to provide a clarity which enhances the reading experience.  You know, by actually giving you one when the artist has failed to.

While my preferred way of reading will always be sitting up in bed with an actual book in my hands, turning real pages, Comixology is providing me with a convenient way to tote a lot of books around while also saving shelf space at home.  I tend to worry about licensing agreements giving out and since thanks to copyright laws and corporate issues you can't download the comics and store them on your own hardware to preserve what you paid for forever (you're actually buying a license to read them rather than the ownership of the actual comics), but as long as Comixology and the publishers maintain friendly relations and my books stay available, then I have no complaints about the service.

Getting 5 bucks to spend thanks to the iPhone app changeover is pretty nice, too.  I just wish I could spend part of it on Fantastic Four #50!

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