Wired’s Tired Article on Digital Distribution of Comic Books

I opened up the May 2006 issue of Wired Magazine to see an odd article by products editor Mark McClusky arguing in favor of digital distribution of comic books. McClusky writes,

The two biggest comics publishers, Marvel and DC, control huge back catalogs — as in 70 years of content. But if you want to read old issues of a venerable franchise like Spider-Man, your choices are either to hunt down expensive original copies or to buy costly paperback compilations. . . .

But imagine what these publishers — and smaller imprints — could do in the digital realm. Last year, thousands of readers snapped up The Complete New Yorker, a $100 DVD set containing scans of every issue of the magazine . . . If DC were to release The Complete Batman, fans wouldn’t just be excited — there would be mass hysteria. Comics lovers aren’t averse to spending money; it’s easy to imagine them happily paying $300 for such a compilation. I would. And while it might cannibalize sales of the trades, the radically lower production costs of a DVD set would offset the difference.

Yeah, imagine if instead of having to buy an expensive trade paperback to read all those early Spider-Man comics, you could buy a CD or DVD set that had the entire 40 year run of the book?

It’s such a good idea, Marvel did just that in 2004. It followed that up with DVD collections of the entire run of The Fantastic Four and X-Men with an Avengers DVD-ROM on the way (and for about $50 rather than $300; sadly, there was no mass hysteria or UFO sightings accompanying the release of any of these products).

Here’s an article idea for Wired — what if companies would create programs that would scan incoming e-mail and files for viruses and notify the user or automatically delete them before a user’s computer became infected? Wouldn’t that be a great idea? Probably worth a cover story, even.

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