By Kevin Mahadeo
Pull out your mobile devices and get ready to download, because starting today, April 17, writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips' creator-owned series CRIMINAL and INCOGNITO will both become available on iVerse, PanelFly and Comixology via iTunes and the PSP for your digital reading pleasure.
"For the past year or so I've been hearing from e-comics and digital comics distributors who have deals with iTunes and PSP," explains Brubaker. "I felt like there was this huge untapped market that we weren't reaching with CRIMINAL or INCOGNITO, people who actually prefer to read comics digitally."
Released under Marvel's Icon Imprint, both titles follow a more noir-style of storytelling. The Eisner Award-winning CRIMINAL began in 2007 and features self-contained story arcs each focusing on a different set of characters, with some recurring in supporting or background roles. The six-issue limited series INCOGNITO, on the other hand, focuses on a retired super villain looking to bring back some excitement into his life after regaining his powers. Brubaker says that he hopes releasing the titles onto iTunes and the PSP will allow the books to reach a completely new market of readers.
"Clearly there is an audience for this stuff that don't want to buy the comics and own books and bookshelves," says the writer. "They want to have it on electronic devices. So, why should we not provide those things? The most exciting thing to me about this whole thing is that our comics are put out mostly through the direct market. But with something like the
"And I have to say, I went out to buy an iPad and the most impressive thing to me was the comics apps," says Brubaker. "I've never been able to enjoy sitting at my computer and reading. I spend enough time on my computer. But I think it was [Marvel Publisher] Dan Buckley who said this was the closest we've come with electronic media to the actual experience of reading comics, and I agree with that. The pages actually look really good. The colors look as vibrant as what we see before they go to print. The lettering was all crisp and very readable."
The digital downloads also allow for a much wider release than would otherwise occur. Whereas print publishing only yields a certain amount of copies printed, the digital market allows for unlimited access and unlimited downloads.
"We have never been at the level where we don't have any idea how many people you're going to reach with something," explains Brubaker. "Just put the issues out and as many people as are interested can just grab it and read it. That's kind of crazy to me. With stuff like INCOGNITO and CRIMINAL we've sold a lot of these, but I'm constantly meeting people that have heard about the books, but haven't read them. Their store doesn't carry it, or they do but they sell out all the time. The ability to reach people directly, clearly that's what we've been looking forward to as we saw this all coming, that there was eventually going to be a bit of a game changer."
"A lot of cities don't have a comic store at all and the closest you can get is the graphic novel wall in Barnes & Noble," he relates. "Now someone can go see 'Iron Man 2' and in their car on the way home they can order a bunch of Iron Man comics. It feels like we're in the future."
However, Brubaker insists that print will always be around-as it has been for thousands of years-and that digital downloads really just provides a benefit for a different type of comic reader.
"I mean, have a power outage and try to use your iPad," jokes the creator. "What do you do when the power goes out? You sit around and read books or sit around and read comics. There are always going to be people who prefer the print version. It's not an either or situation. It really is a different audience. What we may end up seeing is people sampling a lot more stuff because the digital comics right now are cheaper. We might get a lot more impulse buys than we would normally get. And we might see books that don't do well in print do better digitally and that can keep them going. It's going to be an interesting time."
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