Digital VS PrintFor years, comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, and other related material was all done on paper in a book, leaflet, or magazine format. With the advances of technology, however, there has become a new voice in how comic books are created and digested by fans. The digital format has come and is here to stay, so what are we doing about it, and which is better? This article will take a look at making a comic available digitally vs printing it. The discussion of whether to produce the comic digitally or on paper is another topic entirely.
Definition of Print and DigitalPrint – For the purpose of this discussion, something that is in the “print” format, is something that is printed on paper. It might me a stapled comic, glue bound graphic novel, photocopied black and white mini comic, newspaper strip, or some other form of printed material.
Digital – For the purpose of this discussion, something that is in the “digital” format, is something that has been converted into electronic data for the purpose of being viewed on some kind of screen. In most cases, it will be a computer screen, but you can now see digital comics on phones, ipods, DVD’s, TV, and other electronic devices. Webcomics, downloadable comics in a PDF or CBR/CBZ file formats, phone comics, and other electronic media are all types of digital comics.
Benefits Of Print
- Collectibility: Comic books are a collectible item. People put a monetary value to them. Rare comics like Action Comics #1 can be worth as much as a million dollars. Variant covers, limited editon runs, and signed comics are all things that digital cannot do. People like to own stuff and reading a comic book has a certain personal feel to it that has been hard to recreate on the computer screen.
- Tangible: A printed comic is a tangible product. You can touch it, smell it, open it, destroy it if need be. There is a weird connection with these items that have brought us so much joy over the years. When people own a product, it becomes a small part of who they are.
- Respect: Right now, printed comic books have a certain respect attached to them. Getting your comic book in print can be seen as a mark of success for many. Continuing to have it printed, read, and bought by others is another mark of success. Whether this is really something we should be attributing respect to, is a topic for debate, but seeing that comic on a shelf brings a certain amount of pride for sure.
- Portable: A printed comic book can be transported easily in a backpack, briefcase, or even in your back pocket. Advances in technology make this somewhat true for digital comics, but the printed comic can be easily swapped from one person to another with very little effort.
- Permanency: Once something is printed, it has an eternal quality to it. You can find it in bookstores, libraries, or in archived collections that will be on display for years to come. The digital format is often dumped to make room for the newest material.
Benefits Of Digital
- Cost: Overall, the digital format is especially cheap. The only thing you really need to invest is time. Typically, the creator takes the comic and uploads it to a website, many of which can be gotten for free. This makes it very easy to put up digital comic content. Printed comics can take a huge investment to even get printed, and then you have to sell them to make your money back.
- Potential Readership: According to many research sites there are as many as 700 million people using the internet. That is an enormous potential readership. Now, granted, not every one of those people will choose to read it, but the potential is there. A printed comic has a much lower potential. Sure it can be passed around from one person to another, but it doesn’t meet the same potential readership as the Internet can bring.
- Instant Gratification: A digital comic book can be created, uploaded, and read, all in one day. A printed comic will typically take much longer. Some can take years to complete and print. The speed in which a digital comic can be distributed is amazing.
- Chance To Grow: The digital format will give you a chance to grow, without much risk. It’s cheap (as stated above), so you won’t be out much money. It will allow the creator to try new things and believe me, if people like or dislike, they will let you now with their feedback. Getting that experience through trial and error will be a great asset for the future.
- Control: Unless you self publish your comic, you will need to go through a publisher of some kind. The digital comic is in complete control of the creator. Advertising, updates, style, content, these are all under control of the creator and can be changed in an instant.