To flip or to scroll? The digital vs paper comic book debate

Colered numbers

The avid reader has come a long way since the first record of the Greek’s institutional libraries of the 4th century B.C. Today, we read on the go. We want our books on e-readers, our magazines online and our news in 140 characters or less.

Following the trend, comics have joined the ranks of digital copy, causing quite a stir in the comic community. Is digital really the medium in which comics were meant to be enjoyed? Is it a crime against comics or is it the unstoppable evolution of reading?


Digital Comics

Digital enthusiasts feel that acquiring and storing comics on a device makes collecting much neater and more manageable, according to HubPages. A careful collector stores comic book series in individual boxes, but this method can be challenging as he or she collects back issues and discovers new titles. The collector may end up with scores of partially filled boxes in towering stacks that clutter the limited space. This method also makes finding a particular title a time-consuming and tedious task. However, if your comics are stored digitally, all you need to do is type the title into the search bar, and the issue you want is magically available.

Proponents also assert that comics are easier to handle in digital form. You can bring your entire collection with you when out for a walk, in the car or on a plane without worrying about them getting damaged or bent. Many also prefer reading the digital versions of their old favorites to prevent smudging and creasing and because mobile devices have large, clear screens that make them easier to view.

Several comic publishing moguls, like Marvel and Dark Horse, have embraced the digital medium and have created specific apps and marketplaces for Android and iOS users, which offer issues of some of their most popular franchises. The Dark Horse app features comics like Mass Effect, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Wars and Alien in addition to an expansive selection of manhwa and manga.

Traditional Comics

On the flip side, comic purists say the true medium for genuine comic fan boys and girls will always be print. These are the buyers who know every comic book shop in town and have been supporting these local shops for ages. For them, physically visiting the shop is a big part of the comic buying experience. Leafing through the issues, dirtying their fingers with old ink and dust and feeling the familiar weight and smell of the paper, otherwise the sensory participation in the hunt for that rare and elusive edition is not there when purchasing digital copies. You just don’t get the same satisfaction.

The traditionalist also argues the collectibility and value factor, stating that digital comics aren’t worth as much. But, collectibility is a subjective concept. You may assign the value of a comic based on more than market value. Often it is tied into the effort placed into finding the comic, how rare it is, the limited edition status and sentimental value. To old-school collectors, it’s not just about how much it costs. Plus, it is really difficult to get a digital copy signed.

The decision on which medium best suits comic book reading ultimately lies with you and your personal preferences. Whether you are a progressive or purist, one thing is for certain: either medium beats reading the Epic of Gilgamesh on a slab of stone.



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