One of my favorite comic guys Jimmy Palmiotti posted his thoughts about the future of print comics on Facebook today. He was basically proposing that the industry move from single-issue “floppies” to monthly hardcover trades that could be categorized by character and sold for a similar price to what the individual issues would cost. So, instead of getting all of the individual books in the Batman family each month, you’d buy one hardcover that contained all of that month’s titles (Batman, Detective, Batman and Robin, etc.).
I really like that idea, and it’s similar to something Erik Larsen proposed back in 2010, and other creators have talked about as well. There is growing consensus that the single-issue delivery method for print comics will eventually have to go for the industry to survive long-term.
As people who listen to Secret Identity and read my posts on the SI website know, I am also a big fan of digital comics, and the work that creators like Mark Waid have been doing to experiment in that arena.
Whether you agree with one of the current theories or not, I’m glad there is ongoing discussion and brainstorming about how to keep the hobby healthy moving forward. I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between print and digital, and what I’d like to see is something of a combination of what Waid and Palmiotti have talked about. A strategy that plays to the strengths of both formats, and gives readers options.
Quite simply, what I would like to see, much like Palmiotti and Larsen, is the end of single-issue print comics. BUT, single issues could continue to be available in digital format, just like they are right now.
Think about it. For folks that still want their comics in small bites, they could buy single issues digitally every week. Each month, collected editions would be released in print (perhaps in both paperback and hardcover), and those editions could feature letters pages and extras that cater to the collector. On the digital front, single issues would feature digital extras similar to Marvel’s AR or be presented in a more dynamic style like Waid’s comics on Thrillbent. While the story would be the same, each format you bought your comics in would have unique extras.
This is not a new idea. When you look at some of the “digital first” initiatives by Marvel and DC, you’re basically seeing a pilot of what I’m proposing. Titles like Smallville and Injustice: Gods Among Us are huge digital successes that are then released in print as well. The only difference with what I’m proposing is that they would not be released as single issues anymore, but rather as collections.
So, to recap--single issues available in digital, collected editions available in print. Play to the strengths of both formats, and give readers a choice as to how they want to experience their comics.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!