Comic Con or Pro?
"Flash" From The Past
The other day I stumbled upon a review for an application for the iPad that caught my attention. Now, if you have read some of my other articles you might get the impression that I am not a fan of technology, this is partially true. I worry about a day when the technology that man invented will eventually become our greatest enemy. But that worry does not stop me from benefiting from and even enjoying the advancements that have been set before me.
I wrote a hub titled Is Technology Going To Kill Us? Paging Mr. Schwarzenegger! and another titled Attack of The Killer Cell Phones. In both I pointed out various negative effects that technology has placed upon our society. These ranged in topic from radiation to Artifically Intelligence possibly taking over the world. Still, all in all I have to admit to being very reliant on certain technology.
Without a computer I would not be able to be doing what I am doing right now, writing an article that will have the ability to be read by millions or billions (yeah right, I wish). And I don't have to pay a cent to publish, manufacture, or distribute. As far as my cell phone goes, I hate to admit it but...it's a necessity. Life moves too fast these days for me to try to survive the way I would like to without one. But when it comes to other technologies I am not so intertwined. Most of the time when I see the newest cell phone or Apple " iCrap" I say to myself, "is this stuff even needed?" Also, "didn't a new one of these just come out last month?" Before I go off into what seems to be another article entirely let me move on to the focus of this one. e-Comics.
Back To The Future?
All In The Palm Of Your Hand!
If you saw the picture above a few years ago would you think it was cut from a scene in a futuristic movie?
Just like many other young boys I grew up reading comic books. The escape from reality is a breath of fresh air, especially when reality forces you to realize that sometimes the good guy doesn't always win. As a kid you like to see superhero's do super things, beat up the bad guys, and save the world. Hell even as adults it appears that we still like it. Do I need to pull out the box office numbers for comic book movies? The Dark Knight alone holds the #8 spot for All-Time Box Office: World-wide. Even before that you had the Spiderman and X-men movies which both proved that comic book movies are cash cows, starting what has become a comic book movie phenomenon.
I could go on forever about why I think comic book movies are so successful but I want to stay on topic here. Something that I thought was another piece of unnecessary over hyped crap from Apple, has actually left me almost impressed. But don't give them all of the credit.
This article is not about the ipad rather its about the e-comic applications that allow comic book fans to read comic books digitally, similar to the way people read novels on The Kindle. The ipad just makes it look really cool and futuristic!
Below I will explain how the e-comic thing works and even give you some information on how to get some of the stuff for free.
e-Comics are essentially, electronic comic books (like email, get it?). To put it in technical terms they are digitally formatted comics which can be displayed on a PC or any other device that has a display and memory. Below is an excerpt from an article titled How to read e-Comics (cbr and cbz files) by Rohan. In it the author explains what type of files and software is needed to obtain and view e-Comics, for free. He even rates what he believes is some of the best software out there on the World Wide Web.
"You can easily open these files in winRAR or any other archive manager (7zip etc.) to get the images (jpegs) and read them as they are. But here you do not get the ‘feel’ of the comic. For that you need dedicated softwares."
"If you are an ardent comic reader, you may be aware of the digitalization of many of your favourite comics .You can get such ‘eComics’ easily off the internet. But what you may end up with would be a .cbr or .cbz file."
"So what are these files with such strange extensions? Nothing really, all they are are the images of each page of the comic, compressed together in a .rar or .zip file."
As mentioned before, these digital comic formats can be viewed on a PC as well as other devices that have display and memory capabilities but, it seems like Apple's iPad has seeped the air out of everyone else's balloons, for now.
Below is an excerpt from Marvel Comics for iPad: Hands-on Review by Xeni Jardin. In it the author reviews an application that was made specifically for the ipad by Marvel Comics, one of the top two major comic book companies in the world.
"First impression: I like it. Scrolling is intuitive, brisk, and elegant. I'm amazed at how smooth. The store interface makes sense to anyone familiar with iTunes and App store. Flipping and reading, one luminous full-color page at a time, I do not miss paper. When zooming deeper into single frames, to scroll frame-by-frame, transitions (with "animated" option selected) feel almost cinematic— but sometimes zoomed-in art is not as crisp and high-res as I'd like (it varies by title). Unless I'm missing something, no way to view two pages at a time, as you might with a paper comic. I didn't miss that detail, but others might. And some comics were designed and drawn by the artist with that view option in mind. I'll be interested to see how the app and the content available for it evolve."
Now before you start to think I am one of those "Apple Zombies" (no offense to Apple Zombies), I will reinterate that these comics can be viewed on just about any device that has a display and memory such as a PC, Mac, PSP, Kindles, Nintendo DS, and other tablet devices. So, if Apple is your Arch Nemesis you can easily find other means of supporting your e-Comic fix. Also, In addition to Marvel's iPad application there are other options that seem to be the top choices among e-Comic readers who prefer to venture outside of the Marvel Universe Application: ComicZeal4, Stanza, Comic Viewer, CloudReaders, ARCreader.
There are some who might think that digitizing comics may be taking things a little too far. Some might argue that part of the appeal of comic book reading comes from going to the store and grabbing the newest issue off of the rack. There are others who might say this technology will have a positive effect on comic books and will eventually prove to broadened the comic book reading audience. Then there are those who could care less because, they either don't care for comic books or because they don't like to read (insert American joke here). Right now you might be wondering how I feel?
As I said in the beginning, I am not one to hop on every new, shiny, blinking, radiation emitting gadget that goes out on the market. I think most of the stuff that comes out now consists of duplicates of previous technologies with added on features that warrant companies to hike up the price (ex. iPod, iTouch, iPhone, iPad). But this time I am impressed. And I think this e-Comic thing is a great idea.
I stopped buying comic books a long time ago. I wouldn't say it's because I grew out of them because I still go to see these movies based on comics when they come out. Just like everyone else does. The reason I stopped is a combination of many things. School, movies, TV, friends, girlfriends, parties, work, bills, life! You might see guys in there 50's and 60's still going to the store to buy comics or showing up to those comic conventions dressed as a dorky looking Darth Vader or the classic out of shape Superman, but that ain't me. I always liked reading comics but I never took it or plan to take it that far. In other words, catching me at the store standing in line to by the newest edition of whatever is most unlikely to happen but, reading a comic from my computer screen or a cool ass looking iPad is not out of the question.
For those who look down on comics as a juvenile attempt at respectable literature I will say this. Yes comics may seem less intellectual than say a novel or the New York Times with its colored picture pages and superhero nonsense, but we must remember that comic books are...well they are books. And they do tackle social issues in a unique and creative way which should not be seen as beneath other types of literature, but different. Besides, with all the crap being fed to us by our own government, the puppet news media, and the totally absurd things that have happened to our society in the past and present, the far fetched stories that can be read in the comics don't seem that unrealistic anymore.
At the end of the day I look at it like this;
Good books are like good movies. After reading it you are amazed at how well it was written and how certain parts of the story touched you. You may read the book again or see the movie for a second or even third time but, after that I doubt reading it again will prove to open any new chapters in your mind or body. In comparison, a good comic book is like a good TV series. Instead of one two hour movie you have countless hours of entertainment that only end when everyone on the show decides that its a wrap. Even after that you have spin off's and dvd's. With so many stories, characters, and episodes to chose from, revisiting these shows seems to never get old. I can easy remember every part of a movie I've seen before while watching it and eventually it makes me turn it off. But when it comes to a TV series there's always a part I didn't notice before or a scene that I didn't see (maybe I went to the bathroom or the kitchen during the first viewing). This comparison puts great stories (books) against great never ending stories (comic books). I respect both, and in my opinion, anyone who calls themselves a writer or reader should also.
Oh! You Know I Had Video
Rohan. How to read e-Comics (cbr and cbz files). Comptalks.com. Web. 13 July 2011.
Xeni Jardin. Marvel Comics for iPad: Hands-on Review. boingboing.net. Web. 13 July 2011