Pay attention to this, everybody. It could be looked back on as a significant event in the history of comics distribution. Marvel’s just put out a press release regarding INVINCIBLE IRON-MAN ANNUAL #1. The 80-page giant, written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico, is hitting comic store’s shelves on the 30.
Its three chapter will also be available for download on the Marvel Comics app on the 30.
That’s right, this will be the first time a Marvel title will be made available for purchase in print and digitally on the same day. I’m sure it’s success will determine whether fans we’ll be seeing more of this distribution model soon. Actually, given how rapidly things happen with “new media”, it could very well mean we’ll see many more Marvel titles offered like this, very soon. The debate regarding print versus digital has raged for many a month now and I’m sure this is going to be a major talking point in the discussion. To mix metaphors, it could crack open the dam or snuff out like a flash in the pan - - either way it’s going to open a can of worms.
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The biggest question, of course, is whether the digital version’s availability will undercut the analog version’s sales. Why pay more for print when you can get the same comic on your computer for less, and not even have to wait longer for it, either? Again, I don’t claim to be a market expert, but I’ve heard enough anecdotal stories from industry people at conventions that digital sales supposedly translate into physical copy sales. Supposedly that’s been happening a lot in the music business. Apparently, a lot of people who download a song on iTunes and love it go the store and buy the CD, or tell their friends to - - and that kind of buying habit could very well translate to comics.
As always, I stress that I personally prefer to read comics in print, but there’s a sizable portion of the audience who enjoys digital just the same and any sensible business is going to cater to all parts of its audience. Marvel has to address the (pun intended) torrent of digital piracy eventually. I don’t think digital will necessarily ever replace print so much as supplement to it. So keep your eyes on how INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1 does in a few weeks.