One of the very first posts I wrote for yr an adult, before I even knew that, literally, hundreds of people (I know! Hundreds!) might be interested in reading what I had to say about how weird I think adulthood is, was about my recently returned love of buying comic books. If you weren’t with me since the beginning (don’t worry, that doesn’t make you a poser), I’ll summarize: I’m dork, I like spending money impulsively, and there’s a comic book store around the corner from my apartment, so I’ve been spending $20-40 bucks a month there of late, all in attempt to not being a complete grown up yet. Anyways, late last night, my mind wandered to, of all things, Miles Morales, the new alternate-Marvel Universe black Spiderman, who inspired an obnoxious race-is-a-thing-we’re-still-not-good-at-talking-about media stir late last year (it’s summed up pretty perfectly by Jon Stewart, here). “Was that still a thing?” I wondered to myself. A couple iPhone strokes and I was wikipedia-ing whether the comic had lasted since the summer and whether the “critics” thought it was any good. After a little perusing, I was filled with a sudden impulse to read the comic book, but, it being 10:00 pm on a Sunday night, that didn’t seem possible. Then it occurred to me:
“Can’t you buy electronic comic books on your iPhone?” If less-practical lightening has ever struck, I’m not sure where.
Literally, five minutes later, I’d downloaded the Marvel Comics application, connected it with my Apple ID and downloaded the first issue of Ultimate Comics Spiderman, which cost $1.99 and I read in about 10 minutes. From there, I proceed to buy the next issue and immediately read it. While my girlfriend slept, I repeated this process seven times, until I was completely caught up with the new series. I know. I have some work to do on impulse control, right?
I should say what I like about the electronic comics makes me concerned they are going to be a HUGE moneywaster for me. For one, the obvious ease of purchasing them is great/terrible, but also the reading style is surprisingly cool. You flick through panel by panel and the transitions naturally direct your eye to where you’re supposed to look. As such, the conversations are beated out in a way is almost better to read then in the book format, and you can immerse yourself in it really easilyy. Plus, the fact that you can carry an airplane-trip’s worth of comic books in your pocket is neat.
And as a complete aside, I should say that, the new Spiderman is great. Miles Morales feels like he’s more real than Peter Parker (who, in the Ultimate Marvel Universe where this book is set, died). And it’s not because of the race thing, but because of the Brooklyn he lives in, the charter school he goes to, the way we watches the old Spiderman on YouTube to “train”, his set of nerdy friendsand the way they’ve written his parents. All in all, Morales feels like a real reflection of our time. And that’s what comic books are ultimately supposed to do.
What I don’t like about my recent discovery of e-comic books, beyond the fact that the power to buy them and immediately read them is now at my fingertips, is, that I like comic book stores. Our generation has seen the almost complete extinction of video-stores and record-stores. Comic book stores have done a better job of holding on, because there’s something about their merchandise that needed a physical product. If these e-comics really catch on (and I’ll say, I know nothing about the comic book industry), it could be good for the business/artists, but bad for the communities. Also, since very few of my friends think they like comic books, until I force one into their hands, not having a physical product to share could kill the virality of the form. And for kids, how do you trade a file on your phone?
For the time being, I will try to mostly still only buy comics in the store, where the physical exchange of money tempers my trigger-happy impulses. And save the e-books for when I’m in a real pinch.
Pray for me.
Henry Goldman is the founder of yr an adult. You don’t actually have to pray for him.