Kiel Phegley: How significant an impact does Marvel feel the iPad and similar devices will have on Marvel’s bottom line? Any predictions as to when – if ever – comics go completely digital?
Joe Quesada: Are you kidding, the significance could be…well, significant. The iPad could be the new feeder system for brick and mortar stores. Ever since the newsstand really died for comics, that element has been missing in many ways. Trades in bookstores picked up some of the slack, but the newsstand used to be huge. I think the iPad will be that and more and will improve the sales of comics in all areas, especially at comic shops. That’s why we have the comic shop locator built into the app.
Joe Quesada, Cup o’ Joe 04/02/10
I don’t know that I agree with Joe Q’s answer. When I stopped buying CDs, getting an iPod didn’t send me back to Best Buy. It sent me to AmazonMP3. What’s much, much more likely is that mainstream digital comics and comic shop comics will split into two separate, but complementary, revenue streams. I try to minimize the floppies I buy because I vastly prefer trades. I buy mp3s and ebooks at a wholly irresponsible pace due in large part to the fact that I don’t have to worry about storage. If I start buying comics on the iPad, I’m not going to click the little “Go to a comic shop!” button to start filling up my house. I’m going to click the “Buy digital comics” button to fill up my iPad with every issue Hypno Hustler ever appeared in.
While it’s nice that Marvel is attempting to maintain favor with the retailers, and stressing that in their press releases to an almost absurd degree, but I can’t see any iPad revolution sending people to comic shops without Marvel self-sabotaging their digital sales. Remember when DC Comics announced that there’d be no trade of Identity Crisis until at least a year after the series ended?
Yeah, that’s self-sabotage. It’s stupid. You’re leaving money in wallets. It’s nice that retailers make bank off floppies, but there’s a large subset of readers who don’t care to buy a 32 page pamphlet. Manga used to come out over here in floppies, remember that? Now it comes out in fat little trades. The market adjusted to the demand.
I hope Marvel goes all in. I’m talking simultaneous releases on Wednesdays, fat packs of classic stories, freebie issues to get people caught up on characters… go big or go home. DC is asleep at the wheel, as anyone who attended the terrible DC Nation panel this past weekend knows. They have vague platitudes about how stuff is on the way, we’re looking into it, really, and asinine anecdotes about how digital comics can’t replicate the experience of folding out pages in Blackest Night #8 and wah wah wah plastic doesn’t feel like paper.
Pop quiz, hot shot: who cares? You aren’t trying to sell digital comics to people who already buy your books and care about whether or not you use crappy paper that smells bad. You’re trying to sell digital comics to people who don’t already buy your books. If some fanboy loves paper so much, let him buy the physical product. Shoot, push a variant out there and let him buy two. You’ve got us, all two hundred thousand of us. We’re there, hook, line, and sinker. Now, go get them. Get my mom, get my grandparents, get my cousins. Get people who have never, and will never, step foot in a comic shop, whether that’s because they can’t find them or because they don’t exist in their area.
Marvel is big enough to force a change in the industry, for good or for ill. Coming hot out of the gates on the iPad is great. Now keep it up and break out of the crap complacency and one-upsmanship that defines both companies and start throwing some weight around. Put the boot in.