Comic Book Fix: Digital Comics on the Google Nexus 7
Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 02:19 Written by david golbitz Wednesday, 25 July 2012 02:20
Like many of you, I have multiple interests. It’s not simply “All Comics All the Time” for me. Just most of the time. But in addition to being a pop culture junkie, I’m also a tech geek. I have the laptop, the smartphone, the netbook, but the one thing I haven’t had before now is an ebook reader. Why? Because until recently, most ebook readers weren’t in color. They came in grayscale or eInk varieties, but full-fledged, in-living-color eReaders simply didn’t exist until a year or two ago. And why is a color eReader so important? For comic books, of course.
Read on for my first impressions of digital comic books on the newly-released Google Nexus 7.
When Google announced its Nexus 7 tablet computer, I saw what I had been waiting for: an inexpensive, full-color, WiFi, Android tablet that would finally unshackle me from that bane of comic book collectors the world over: space. I would no longer have to worry about where to store my thousands upon thousands of comic books. They could all be digitally stored on the Nexus’ internal storage, and if/when that gets filled up, sites like comiXology store records of past purchases, so if I had to delete something from the Nexus 7, I could easily re-download it with the press of a couple buttons. No fuss, no muss.
But how do comics look on the Nexus’ 7-inch 1280×800 HD screen? Really, really nice. Nothing will ever replace the look and feel of a physical comic or book in your hands, not even Apple’s vaunted Retina display, but they can come close and the Nexus prove it. The comic pages are clear and crisp, despite being on a screen about half the size of a print comic book. The artwork pops off the screen in bright, beautiful colors, and if the text is a little small for you, you can pinch-zoom in for a closer look. The comiXology app also gives you the option of reading a comic panel-by-panel, blowing up each individual panel and word balloon to make them more readable.
I’m still going to collect some physical comics, of course, and graphic novels. There’s something more enjoyable, more tangible, about holding a book in your hands, but it’s probably safe to say I’ll be cutting my pull list in half at my local comic shop. Something I know they’re not going to want to hear, but I just don’t have the room anymore for all these books.
To test out the comic book capabilities of the Nexus 7, I downloaded the various comic book apps and went to work. With the release of The Dark Knight Rises this past weekend, comiXology had a huge Batman sale. All the Bat-books you could want for $.99 each. I downloaded Batman issues 404-407, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s seminal “Year One” storyline from the ’80s. I also downloaded Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. And in addition to noticing many nods to these seminal works in The Dark Knight Rises, I definitely enjoyed reading the books on the Nexus. The artwork, albeit smaller, was still crisp and sharp, and the Nexus’ backlit screen gave the art an additional pop that I never got from my print copies.
Over the weekend, comiXology also had a big “Scott Pilgrim” sale, most likely in advance of the newly-colored versions of the graphic novel series that will be available soon. Each volume of “Scott Pilgrim” was on sale for $4 each, which I thought was a great deal. And Bryan O’Malley’s black and white artwork looked just as great digitally as it does in print. I’m still going to buy the colored hardcover versions of each of the six books in the series, but it’s still nice to be able to carry each book of one of my favorite graphic novel series on a small, slim device that fits in the side pocket of my messenger bag.
Digital comics aren’t for everyone, of course. I was adamantly against them when they first became prevalent, but the Nexus 7 has changed my tune. Well, that and a lot of comic book creators have started publishing “digital first” or even “digital only” comics, and who wants to miss out on a bunch of great stories by some of the industry’s best writers and artists just because you don’t like looking at comics on a screen. It’s a digital world now. It’s time to embrace it.
Picks of the Week
- Everybody Loves Tank Girl #1 (Titan Comics), by Alan Martin and Jim Mahfood
- Godzilla #3 (IDW), by Duane Swierczynski and Simon Gane
- The Manhattan Projects #5 (Image), by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra
- Prophet #27 (Image), by Brandon Graham and Giannis Milonogiannis
- Spaceman #8 (DC/Vertigo), by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
- Winter Soldier #8 (Marvel), by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark
- SDCC 2012 – comiXology Brings the Announcements (graphicpolicy.com)
- Is ComiXology the future of comic books? (neowin.net)
- SDCC 12: Fantagraphics finally goes digital with Love and Rockets (comicsbeat.com)
- ComiXology Sales Total An Estimated $19 Million In 2011, Could Triple in 2012 (comicsalliance.com)
- Fantagraphics And ComiXology Team For Digital ‘Love and Rockets’ (comicsalliance.com)